When the Padres play in Atlanta, San Diego right fielder Brian Giles stays with his little brother, Braves second baseman Marcus Giles. They swap host/guest roles when the Braves visit San Diego. And in the 2004 season that included Brian bringing Marcus along for lunch at the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports at Lunch Speaker Series, an event that drew 160 baseball fans.
“I see all these 24 Giles out there, ” said Marcus, referring to fans dressed Brian’s replica Padres’ jersey before citing his own Braves jersey number. “But I don’t see any 22 Giles.”
The two brothers grew up in El Cajon playing at Granite Hills High for Gordy Thompson, the Eagles’ retired coach who also made an appearance.
“He taught us a lot about the game,” Brian said. “He also taught us if we don’t pick weeds you might not be in the lineup.”
Brian, recognized as a jokester in the Padres’ clubhouse, said one of the many pieces of advice he and Marcus picked up from Thompson was to keep their sense of humor as Major Leaguers. In fact, Brian and Marcus say they try not to look at each other when they cross paths on the diamond for fear one might make the other start laughing in the middle of a game.
The brothers answered questions from the audience, and Marcus at one point was forced to bail out Brian when fans asked about the dimensions of Petco Park’s outfield, particularly in right-center field, effecting the team’s surprising lack of power in home games.
“Let me say something,” Marcus said. “The park is definitely a graveyard. These guys can’t say anything, but it’s a joke. If a guy hits a ball where Chipper (Jones) did last night (Aug. 16, in deep right-center), it would have gone out of Yellowstone. But it didn’t go out of this park.”
Brian and Marcus also were both asked about their clubs’ division races, with at the time of the lunch the Padres trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by 6 ½ games in the National League West and the Braves leading the Philadephia Phillies by eight in the NL East.
“We have six or seven games (seven, actually) left with the Dodgers and we’re still in the race for the division or the wild card,” Brian said. “There is still a good six weeks to go, and we haven’t played our best baseball yet. We’re looking forward to the challenge. We’ve got a good group of guys who compete hard. Even though guys aren’t having a normal year, they’re still pushing hard. That builds character and when it’s all said and done character is what pushes to the top.”
Marcus, bound for his fourth playoff trip in his four Major League seasons, thinks this Braves roster can be a better post-season team than some of the past Braves clubs with more talent.
“This year we may not be as good on paper, but I like our chances better than the other years,” Marcus said. “It’s hard to explain, it’s just the way you feel and the chemistry in the clubhouse.”
This season marked a homecoming for Brian, who was acquired from Pittsburgh on Aug. 26, 2003. Marcus was asked when he would make his homecoming. He sidestepped the question like a base runner barreling into second base.
“I’m pretty happy in Atlanta,” Marcus said. “What I’d like to see is both of our teams in the playoffs.”