SAN FRANCISCO -- Jorge Costa's fingerprints are everywhere at AT&T Park.He prefers that they remain invisible, and he succeeds in keeping them that way. As the Giants' senior vice president of ballpark operations, Costa has a hand in virtually everything that happens at the corner of Third and King streets. Security, groundskeeping, parking, maintenance -- those are just a handful of the facets Costa's reach envelops. "I look at this operation as being the heartbeat of it all," said Costa, who's entering his 23rd year with the Giants. "Pretty much everything in the ballpark, we touch in one way or the other." Costa's name occasionally appears in news reports. That usually meant something went wrong. But when all the trains run on time and every plane lands safely, so to speak, nobody cares. In those instances, which is the vast majority of the time, Costa simply keeps plugging away at his job.
"Nobody should really know who I am or what I do," Costa said. "Like a good umpire."For the Giants, Costa is the little boy plugging leaks in the dike. Once he solves a problem, another invariably arises. Even when everything's running smoothly, various issues demand his scrutiny. "It's constant evaluation, similar to painting the Golden Gate Bridge," he said. "You're never going to be finished." As the Giants' home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday at 1:35 PT approaches, a partial list of Costa's responsibilities included supervising the detailing and cleaning, making sure the laser work on the pitcher's mound left it at regulation dimensions, hanging the bunting, fine-tuning the diamond, checking the lights and flags and dealing with the San Francisco Police Department to coordinate traffic control. "I feel a difference this year because of the championship and the fans' expectations," Costa said. Costa manages to mix a little fun into his job. Each Opening Day, he sports a new suit, which often prompts fascination or amusement. "They tend to be very, very bright," he said. Costa would do stuff like this more often if he could. But typically, he's simply too busy. "By nature, I'm a prankster," he said. "But the job has made me a serious person."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.