Category Archives: Baseball

Great San Franciscan Characters #9: “Sunny Jim” Rolph


Mayor, successful business man, future governor, whorehouse owner “Sunny Jim” Rolph

March 3, 2011 by A Golden Gate State of Mind

English: Official portrait of California Gover...

English: Official portrait of California Governor James Rolph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)










Charming, charismatic, successful businessman and whorehouse owner, ”Sunny Jim” Rolph was the longest serving mayor in San Francisco history.

He was born to British parents in the city on 23rd August 1869 and educated in the Mission District where he  also lived in adult life in a large mansion at the corner of San Jose and 25th Streets.  After jobs as a newsboy, clerk and messenger he entered the shipping business in 1900, forming a partnership with George Hind.  For the next ten years he served as President of two banks, one of which he established, as well as founding the Rolph Shipping Company and James Rolph Company.  He also directed the Ship Owners and Merchants Tugboat Company and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to his country’s entry into the First World War he supplied coal and ships to the Allied Countries.  With an estimated wealth of $5 million he bought a ranch west of Stanford University.  It is reported that the Department of Public Works made all the improvements to the ranch at the taxpayers’ expense, not the last time his appropriation of public funds for his own personal gain was mooted.

In 1911 Rolph was encouraged to run for Mayor against the incumbent P.H. McCarthy who had failed to curb the corruption that was rife in the city.  Following a six week campaign categorised by egg throwing, fist fights and police riots, he won comfortably.

His first major project was the construction of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, designed not only to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal but, equally importantly, to showcase the remarkable renaissance of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.  It was  during the latter that he he had earned the gratitude of the city by, as head of a relief committee, delivering water and supplies with his horse and wagon.


He opened the Exposition by, pied piper style, leading 150,000  followers down Van Ness Avenue and Lombard Street to the Fairgrounds, now the Marina District.  The profits from the highly successful event were used to build the Civic Auditorium.

As Mayor, he personally oversaw the construction of City Hall, and on the day it was dedicated in 1915, climbed the golden dome, “beamed at the astonished faces below”, and ran up the American flag.

His nickname derived from his relentlessly cheerful, gregarious disposition.  With a theme song entitled ”There Are Smiles That Make You Happy” he paraded about town in, alternately a stovepipe silk or derby hat, dapper black suit with a flower, usually a carnation, in the buttonhole, smiling and “pressing the flesh” of the city’s residents as if he were on a continuous election campaign trail. He would often pick up pedestrians on his way to City Hall and drive them to their destination.  He was known as the “Mayor of All the People”, relating to people of all races, religions and political parties.  He even invited Communist protestors into his office for a chat.

He had time for everyone as he ”popped up” at just about every public event, seeing it as a photo opportunity to promote himself.  His role was primarily as the charming figurehead for city government, leaving the day to day running of his administration (which bored him), including several major public works projects such as the Bay Bridge, Hetch Hetchy water systemwhich supplies most of the city’s water,  and San Francisco Airport, to trusted colleagues.

Rolph’s affable manner and the spectacular but costly festivities he arranged to celebrate major political events may have endeared him to the man in the street, but he presided over a “lawless, debauched city”in which “gambling and prostituion thrived”.  Moreover, he contributed personally towards this by owning the Pleasure Palace, an “entertainment hideout”at 21st Street and Sanchez on Liberty Hill.  It is hardly surprising, therefore, that he made only half-hearted attempts to clean up the city.  This, along with his lax stance on enforcing Prohibition, may have partly accounted for his four re-elections and nineteen years in office.

His flamboyant image extended to appearances in several films, notably the 1915 documentaryMabel and Fatty Viewing the World’s Fair at San Francisco, directed by Fatty Arbuckle and the short, Hello Frisco.

Rolph’s drinking and alleged affair with movie star, Anita Page, however, scarred his final term in office.  He missed meetings at City Hall and drivers would be despatched to find him. When he did turn up he appeared drunk and patently unwell.

San Francisco's exuberant mayor, "Sunny Jim" Rolph, was a...

He was elected the 27th Governor of California from 6th January 1931 when he resigned as San Francisco Mayor.  However, the advent of the Great Depression and the budgetary constraints that that inevitably imposed upon the State, had serious personal and political consequences.  Moreover, laregly as a result of his shenanigans over a previous gubernatorial campaign, his contract to build three new ships for the Federal Government was cancelled and he was banned from selling ships to foreign governments, accelerating his financial ruin.

His political inadequacies were also regularly exposed, provoking a recall movement against him within two years of taking office.  His tenure was dogged by controversy, not least when he publicly praised the citizens of San Jose, whilst promising to pardon anyone involved, following the November 1933 lynching of the confessed murderers of Brooke Hart, the son of a wealthy local merchant.  He was thereafter known as ”Governor Lynch”.

As he fell into serious debt his health failed, although he continued to make personal appearances against medical advice.  Following a number of heart attacks he died on 2nd June 1934 at Riverside Farm, Santa Clara County.  He was brought home to lie in state in the City Hall rotunda.

Notwithstanding his many flaws, Rolph’s popularity in his home town was unquestioned. and illustrated in the decision to name the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, that had begun to be built under his stewardship, the “James “Sunny Jim” Rolph Bridge”.

Finally, I am particularly indebted for much of the detail in this article to the historical essay on Rolph written by Daniel Steven Crofts.



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    What to Eat at AT&T Park, Home of the Giants – Eater Guide – Eater SF

    What to Eat at AT&T Park, Home of the Giants

    Thursday, April 5, 2012, by Eater Intern

    241ATT Park,  Home Of The Giants, San Francisco, California
    [Photo: Photo credit]

    There’s no need to settle for a mediocre hot dog or an $8 Bud Light at AT&T Park; some say they’ve got the best stadium concessions in the country. Peanuts, Cracker Jack boxes and other typical snacks of baseball, are all within reach. But so too are rock cod tacos from Mijita, gruyere panini from the farmer’s market cart, ice cream from Humphry Slocombe, and fresh strawberries with whipped cream. Of course, you can also find that above-average hot dog made with beef from 4505 Meats at chef Traci Des Jardin’s Public House.

    Now, leading into the Giants’ home opener against the Pirates next Friday (4/13), here’s a guide to what to eat at AT&T Park and where to find it.

    AT&T Park’s Five Standouts

    Public House

    Public House: Traci Des Jardin has raised the standards for stadium feasting, and this season there are new gourmet options from her new chef Chris Wade. Here, they serve snacks like gruyere mac and cheese, deviled eggs topped with salsa and bacon, and cauliflower with raisins and pinenuts. The hot dogs and bratwursts come from 4505 Meats, the fish and chips is made with fresh Pacific cod, and for dessert there’s a double stout float using Humphry Slocombe’s best. [Willie Mays Plaza]

    Crazy Crab'z

    Crazy Crab’z: Located at center field is a sandwich that Giants fans crave every season. Sweet and fresh Dungeness crab between two slices of garlic butter-brushed grilled sourdough. A crab salad and crab cocktail also grace the menu. [Center Field]

    Orlando's Carribean Bowl

    Orlando’s Caribbean BBQ: This outpost is know for the Cha-Cha bowl. Rice, beans, grilled chicken, pineapple-zucchini salsa all mixed together like a Caribbean incarnation of bibimbap. It’s one of the most filling and satisfying meals in the park. [Promenade Level and View Level]

    Farmer's Market Cart

    Farmer’s Market Cart: A nice break from the hot dogs and fried goods can be found at the Ferry Plaza’s farmer market stand. Seasonal produce is available as well as a gruyere grilled cheese, fresh strawberry shortcake and a blackberry cabernet sorbet. [Club Level]


    Mijitas: This Mexican restaurant, also from chefs Jardin and Wade, serves chicken tamales, jicama salad with grapefruit, avocado and pumpkin seeds and an assortment of tacos, like carne asada and crisped carnitas. [Willie Mays Plaza]


    Center Field
    Anchor Grill: Serves up ahi tuna and portobello mushroom sandwiches, burgers, kielbasa.
    *Pier 44 Chowder House: Warm clam chowder served in a bread bowl, the San Franciscan way. Other seafood items on the menu include calamari and fish and chips.
    *Pipkins Pit BBQ: An array of southern specialities like beans, beef brisket sandwiches, cole slaw and pulled pork. And one of the best commercials for a concession stand ever.
    *Say Hey! Sausage Specialties: A large selection of sausages, bratwurst and hot dogs. And everyone’s favorite, Kozyshak pudding.
    Stormin’ Normans: Well known for their Fry Bread – fried dough topped with powdered sugar. Or cinnamon. Or honey. The options are endless. And, according to their menu, free whooopie [sic] pies.


    Field Level
    California Cookout: Offers a hefty sized kielbasa sausage sandwich topped with onions, pepper and sauerkraut. Other options include chicken sandwiches, and polish sausages.
    Clam Chowder: Warm chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl.
    Derby Grill:A selection of burgers, chicken tenders, BBQ brisket sandwiches, veggie dogs and corn dogs.
    Edsel Ford Fong: The one and only Chinese concession in the park serving beef & broccoli, Thai beef skewers, Chinese salad, chow fun and Thai yellow curry.
    Gourmet Sausages: Serves bratwurst, hot links and kielbasa.
    *Murph’s Clubhouse Pub: Their sweet potato fries dusted with curry are a nice change from the stadium’s never ending supply of garlic fries. Also on the menu, Irish quesadillas and corned beef brisket sandwiches.
    Saag’s Deli Sandwiches:Roast beef, turkey and ham sandwiches, as well as fresh fruit salads.
    *Tres Agaves Mexican Kitchen: The go-to place for margaritas and a bacon wrapped hot dog. Other standard mexican fare such as nachos, tacos, tamales available.


    Promenade Level
    A Taste of North Beach: A medley of local North Beach dishes, like the forty clove garlic chicken sandwich from Stinking Rose, tiramisu from Victoria Pastry, meatball sandwiches and cheese-stuffed ravioli.
    Outta Here Cheesesteaks: A place where Cheesteaks come in various forms. From the classic Philly, to a Nor-Call Veggie and San Francisco chicken.


    Club Level
    *Ghirardelli:Where one can indulge on their famous hot fudge sundae, plus the much anticipated s’mores sandwich – melted chocolate and marshmallows between two slices of bread.
    Giuseppe Bazurro:Named after the famous San Francisco restauranter from the late 19th century, this stand offers Italian eats like pizza and chicken parmesan.
    Joe Garcia’s: Soft tacos, burritos, quesadillas and other Mexican dishes.
    Mashi’s Sushi Bistro: A refreshing change from the heavy meat and cheese laden delicacies popular at ballparks. With a selection of fresh sushi rolls, sashimi and edamame.


    View Level
    *Doggie Diner Stand
    Offers the much loved Sheboygan bratwurst, served on a sourdough roll with sauerkraut and onions.

    Also widely available throughout the stadium: beer and wine from Bayside Brews, Mission Creek Cantina, Budweiser, Left Field Bar, Right Field Bar, Lexus Clubhouse Bar, California Wine Bar and Cable Car Bar. Coffee and espresso from Cafe Juma. Ice Cream from Dreyers and Haagen-Dazs. Hebrew National hotdogs. Pizza from Port Walk Pizza. Sandwiches from King Street Carvery. Fresh Popcorn. Gilroy Garlic Fries. Nuts from Cinnamon Roasted Nuts, Hot Roasted Nuts & Cervesas. Peanuts and cracker jacks from Doggie Diner. Sno cones, cotton candy and lemonade.

    – Chloe Schildhause
    via What to Eat at AT&T Park, Home of the Giants – Eater Guide – Eater SF.

    Clam Chowder

    Clam Chowder (Photo credit: icebergprinciple)

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