The Real Thing – Brandon Belt

One of the coolest things happened.

A baby giraffe was born last Friday at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, and they named it Brandon. I just found out yesterday, and I saw a photo of him online. He’s awesome. Sometime during this home stand, I’m going to go up there to see him. He’s already is 6 feet 2, almost as tall as I am. I’m told when he’s full grown just his neck alone will be seven feet long. He’ll be 18 feet tall! So I guess I better see him now when I can look him in the eyes.

It’s really amazing. That giraffe is probably going to live for a while, which means people will go there for years to come and see a little Brandon. Pretty cool.

I’m seeing more hats and stuffed animals in the stands. I love it. But sometimes I think I’m putting pressure on myself to live up to the whole thing. I want to play better than I’m doing now, though I know it’s all a learning process. Not everybody jumps in and does awesome right away. It’s an adjustment being up here. I have to learn how to separate other people’s expectations from my single-minded focus on each at-bat. I feel at times I’m carrying the expectations of everybody from Hudson, Texas, plus the fans here. Balancing the responsibilities, and blocking them out when you have to, is part of learning how to be a pro.

I’m not sure what’s going on with my strikeouts. Sometimes I think too much about my mechanics. You can’t do that when you’re in the box. You have to just react. I don’t think there’s a hole in my swing. Mostly it’s that I’m fouling off pitches I should be hitting, and then I get behind in the count. The other day the pitcher threw me five straight curve balls. I thought he was going to try to sneak a fastball by me. So when I saw the pitch, it looked like it was out of the strike zone. But it was a big curveball and dropped right into the strike zone. By then I had already decided to let it go. Strike three.

Baseball is a game of adjustments. You might feel great for one week and then you feel terrible. I don’t know why that is. You just keep tweaking till it all comes to together again.

We have an off day on Thursday, so Haylee and I are going to Napa. We’ve made plans to visit before but I’ve always been sent down right before we were set to go. We’ve been hooked up with some winery tours, even though I don’t really drink wine. Haylee’s more interested than I am, but I’m told how beautiful the landscape is and how great the food is, so I’m looking forward to it.

I’ll post a photo when I visit my namesake in Vallejo.

See you the park.



  1. Karen Datangel

    I was so happy when I heard of the baby giraffe at Six Flags being named after you. 🙂 Looking forward to your visit with him! It sounds epic already.

    Wish I could offer more concrete advice about what you’re facing on the field, but from a fan, just keep your head in the game. We all are rooting for you and we believe in you, always.

    And hope you and Haylee enjoy Napa! It really is gorgeous up there.

  2. Janet Snyder

    How exciting! And congratulations!! You’re doing awesome! Everyone has off days (or weeks). I sit at a desk and have off weeks! Just keep doing it the best you can!!

  3. Sierra Wilson

    I think that you work the count A LOT. The key for you is to stay aggressive in the full count. I notice you almost always make it to a full count, then take strike three. You are really tempted by the three balls. Don’t change anything about your at bats until you make it to the full count. The pitchers in the league have probably heard from the scout reports that you don’t generally swing at the pay-off pitch. They will quickly catch on and see you as an easy out. Don’t lose that great eye of yours, but be aggressive in the 3-2 count!! Just get a piece of it at least to stay alive! I think that would make a huge difference! But you are doing great, I love how big your fan base is becoming!! I LOVE YOU!!! PLAY HARD!!!!
    ♥ Sierra Wilson
    P.S. That giraffe thing is sooo cute!!! Can’t wait to see a picture of you and your twin! 🙂

  4. Tormund.Giantsbane

    Enjoy Napa – it’s the perfect place to get into drinking wine. All it takes is that one wine that makes your eyes pop and your tongue dance, and you’ll be hooked. Relax, and stay loose.

    It’s fun watching you out there, and it’s really great to have you sharing your thoughts with the fans online like this. You’ll get dialed in, and then the league will fear you. We see your big games, and they speak of good things to come. Stay with your game and keep working counts.

  5. Mimi Petrsen

    Brandon, Enjoy the moments…….you have proven you are good enough to be in the show…… now just play. The rest will fall into place. In life there will always be nay sayers. No matter if you are a common Joe/Jane, or a soon to be famous athlete (smile), there will always be critics. You belong in the bigs, own it!

  6. Laura Romer

    Brandon, congratulations on the namesake! Great article, and good luck! Don’t freak out about strikeouts or anything… somewhere in baseball history, there is a player who’s done much, MUCH worse. 🙂

  7. Monica Galvan

    Enjoy Napa with your wife and enjoy your visit to see your namesake.
    Take a break and enjoy it…no stress allowed 😉 Don’t let all the distractions disrupt you, as you said, you have to separate.
    Can’t wait to see you play on Saturday!!

  8. cindy pursley

    Napa is one of the best places in California and there are lots of beautiful places in Cali. Hope you and Hayley have a blast,

  9. Morgan

    Yo Brandon, I work at Honig winery and would love to see you come by. It’s a great sustainable winery. I’ll be at the game Saturday, hope you’re in the lineup.

  10. Jennifer Won

    What a great story! You must be so proud that they named that giraffe after you. Just hang in there and everything will fall into place. You are doing a great job and have brought so much spunk to SF. Everyone is rooting for you! Enjoy your day off and good luck this weekend!

  11. Ashley McMullen

    Brandon, great post. We would love to host you and Haylee at Regusci Winery on your trip up to Napa! You definitely have a fan base in the Napa Valley 🙂 Enjoy your time off, and hope to see you up in the Valley soon.

  12. Erlene Bird

    I think Kuip gave you the perfect nickname. I have collected giraffes for years and my online name is Gramma Giraffe. There is something about your gait that is so giraffe -like. Have fun playing the game you love and try not to think about anyone’s expectations for you but your own and it will come together. Welcome to the big leagues and I am so happy you are a Giant.

    Gramma Giraffe
    Huntsville, Alabama

  13. Cathy Valceschini

    Brandon, How special to have a baby giraffe named after you in your first year in the big leagues! It shows just how special you already are to the S.F. Giants and their fans. We saw you play on Sunday, it was a beautiful day and a great game…unfortunately a bad call at second changed the outcome of the game. I watched the game on t.v. the next day and DeRosa was definitely safe! You will love the Napa Valley, it’s beautiful country. I’m with you on not liking wine, I never have and don’t think I ever will…but, it’s still enjoyable to sit and eat some great food with whatever your drink choice might be. My husband and I live in Grass Valley, CA, Sierra Nevada foothills and we’ve got some great wineries up here too. You and your wife will have to take a trip up here…truly God’s Country. We make it down 3 to 4 times a year to see you guys live but watch every game on t.v. I grew up with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Davenport, and the rest of the “old crew”. My parents didn’t have much money but the one thing they always did was make certain we got to at least 2 baseball games each summer at Candlestick Park. I like AT&T Park much better but the Giants will always be “my team”…to late to change at 58! You hang in there kiddo, practice makes perfect. Every one of us has doubts in our lives…it’s never giving up and doing what you love that makes you successful. I just retired after 32 years as Chief Deputy Coroner at Nevada County Sheriff’s Office…the first few times I saw a dead body, I fainted. I ended up with my dream job and learned something new everyday. Hang in there…the Giants need your talent and youth, you will make it big…dream big and pray!

  14. Susie C.

    So great about the baby giraffe! Funny…Kuip was the first to call you that, and right after he said it he regretted it–but it was PERFECT! Don’t worry about the pressure–we just really like you, Brandon! Hope you enjoy your trip to my hometown (Napa). You may find that you like wine after all! 🙂

  15. JenniferRose


    Just be you don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. The only expectations you need to worry about living up to are your own.

    Napa is beautiful! I’m sure you and your wife will love it! I’m more of beach bum lol and on nice days Pacifica and Half Moon Bay make great places to hang out along with the boardwalk at Santa Cruz… I could go on and on about all the places you guys could go but in time you’ll learn em all 😉 Have fun at the zoo…bet you never thought this nickname would go this far huh lol

  16. Marshall Brown

    Brandon — Great post…. and pul-ease try to remember to have fun playing, Yes, there’s pressure to perform — as there was all the way from Little League et seq — but it’s the fun of playing that keeps players from getting pressure cooked. Have a great series this weekend!

  17. heidi alberti

    When I heard about baby giraffe Brandon I just smiled 🙂 What an honor for you (& the giraffe!)
    Everyone has streaks & slumps — no worries. I have total faith in you and the organization! Sure, we need a few wins but I already have playoff fever — I’m feeling it.
    You’ll love Napa! Enjoy your much deserved day off.

    Heidi & Atticus (the baseball loving dog)

  18. Derek

    Thanks for the article Brandon. It’s great to hear thoughts like that from someone like you, who’s not caught up in their ego or who has shut off their personality (not judging, just saying). Here’s to a long Major League career and a long happy life for your namesake giraffe!
    God Bless,

  19. Phil

    They’ve been nailing you with those curve balls! But don’t worry, the fans will still root for you – we know what you’re capable of! I’m sure we’ll be seeing another 4-hit game soon enough!

  20. Audrey Bigelow

    Tell Haylee that San Luis Obispo is AWESOME wine country!! And congrats on your new born friend! Hang in there, everyone is still behind you! Strike outs or home runs, people love you Brandon!

  21. Larry Wright

    Brandon- I want to echo the comment above about expectations. Don’t worry about anyone’s but your own. Do your best, be coachable and open to suggestions from the veterans. I’m sure you already do that, and with the way the rest of the team is hitting right now, I’m not sure that’s a good idea even! Just keep hanging in there, and enjoy your day off. And we have some great wine up here in Walla Walla, too! We’d love to see you come here and check out our award winning wines after the season is over.

  22. Andres Brambila

    We (the bay area) love you and the Giants. You guys are the heros of the children of the bay. About the mechanics, I say that sometimes you gotta just say screw the mechanics and listen to your gut.

    I’m from Napa and its cool except that I lived there before I could drink and now I’m 21 so…. also the Raiders practice there and I’m a 49ers fan. As far as the Giraffe, I say its a good call. I rember when it was called Marine World though. Have fun man, and don’t sweat the BS, when the D Backs come, you’ll be ready. All of you will.

  23. Shirlee Lott

    Brandon I have been a Giants fan since 1962 and have always been one. No team will ever be as good as the Giants and the players. When someone loves to play the game like all of you do, it makes it so pleasant to watch. I don’t get to go to many games anytmore but love you on tv. The giraffe story was adorable and you and other Brandon will always be friends.

  24. Debra-Reno

    Great to hear from you Brandon! Remember baseball is a game of “what have you done for me lately?” I’ve been a Giants fan for 43 years so have seen many ups and downs. Be patient. Talk to Nate, it took him awhile. If the veterans were pulling their weight, then there wouldn’t be as much pressure on you.

    But, have fun and enjoy life and your namesake.

  25. Robert

    Keep up the great work Brandon. You are such a hopeful player for the future, and a great one presently.

    Visit me at the book store in Napa Brandon! I wanna give you a high five! Copperfields Books! Keep on doing awesome!

  26. Anthony Reyes

    Have fun visiting the wineries..There is one that looks like a castle going towards Calistoga past the Napa Valley State Park on Hwy 29. Be sure on your way home to stop and eat at the Rutherford Grill in Rutherford..Its right next door to Beaulieu winery where my mom worked and retired from. Both my parents live just down the road near the Napa River. I had a great childhood growing up in this little town playing baseball, basketball, football with all the neighborhood kids and going fishing with my fishing buddy at the river. Everybody knew everybody cuz the population was about 325 for the whole town. I think its grown to about 600 by now. Brandon you are gonna be a great player because you are still young and eager to learn from your mistakes. Keep the faith and you will be an all-star player in the near future. Best of Luck in the Playoffs! Go Giants!!

  27. Israel Luna (@izzyluna)

    Brandon, the Luna’s missed you playing in Fresno but we are happy that You where called up! Find you balance when batting and I’m sure you have plenty of people to help you out. Congrats that people support you and acknowledge you, I’m sure there are many other pro’s that may not gotten animals named after them. Back to to your basics and remember where you came from.

  28. Teresa Woods

    Hey Brandon,
    If you and your wife end up on the Silverado Trail in Napa, come by Pine Ridge Winery and ask for Teresa. I pour our wines at certain Giants games in the Luxury Suites; in fact pouring before Friday’s game vs. the D-backs. Lots of big-time GIants fans work at Pine Ridge, so you would be right at home!
    Go Giants!

  29. Giant Fan

    We just names our new 7 week old black lab puppy Haylee Belt! We were trying to come up with something to do with the Giants – our whole family loves YOU but since puppy is a girl….she is named after you and your wife! Cute, right!?!

  30. Stephanie Oriarte

    I love reading your blogs because its so refreshing to hear what you have to say. From a fan’s standpoint, you are a superstar and it’s really easy to forget that you aren’t much older than I am! So to hear about your struggles in the batter’s box and your life outside of it is really a breath of fresh air. It’s inspiring to have someone who is around my age pursuing his dream, who hasn’t being defeated by the obstacles that he’s been presented with. To still have a level head throughout it all is amazing. Enjoy wine country and baby Brandon. I grew up between Napa and Vallejo and they truly are both awesome! Speaking of giraffes, I really need to get my hands on one of those hats….

    See you on Sunday and enjoy your off day!! 🙂

  31. Cheryl

    Love your Blog! The “Keep Belt Awkward” shirt that I ordered arrived today! It’s so cute!! Have a nice trip to Napa! The food IS great and the wine tasting is fun, even if you aren’t a wine fan. Enjoy meeting the baby giraffe too 🙂 and good luck to you and the team. Lots of people love you!!

  32. Nikki


    So happy about little Brandon. I saw a cute story about it on the news the other day! Please come visit Duckhorn winery in St. Helena and or Paraduxx in Yountville. Our wine is sold at the park. We even did a special all star lable.

    Hope to see you there!


  33. Cheryl

    The best moment on The Franchise? When Bochy welcomed you to the Big Leagues! Hands down, the best moment of all. Sad tonight was the season finale.

  34. jeanne buckingham

    When you go to Napa, take haylee to Castello di amarosa winery in Calistoga. It is a huge Tuscan castle built from materials imported from old buildings in Italy. Their wines are great. By the way, we are happy to have you back. Best of luck to you.

  35. mamayuen

    Congratulations on the honor. What other ball player can say a zoo animal was named after them?! You’ve demonstrated how much of a “pro” you already are as you’ve done what the team has asked you to do, even if that meant a trip (or two) back to Fresno. Enjoy your time in Napa with Haylee. Glad you’re still here in order to finally take the trip. On Thursday, I’ll be looking to add a giraffe hat to my fandom collection.

  36. Jessica

    I empathize with you when you mentioned baseball being a game of adjustments, feeling great for one week and then you feel terrible. I play softball for my church team and we play in an annual summer league that plays only once per week, for 2.5 months. For 1 or 2 weeks, I’d feel really great at the plate and hitting well; but then the week after, I might have no hits, or too many errors, then finish the game feeling frustrated. For those days, I leave my frustration on the field and forget it during the week. I then play the next game with a complete new mindset, as if I’ve played softball for the first time.

    As the newer guy, you’re playing just fine. Keep going out there with a fresh new mindset and always remember what your coaches tell you. With more experience, you’ll be able to adjust faster than when you started. It’s cliche to say this (as I can also empathize about thinking too much), but don’t think too much up there. Keep a clear mind. If I may quote something from the Bible: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training…Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

    Congratulations on the namesake, hope you’ll get to see him soon! Enjoy your off-day in Napa!

  37. Kendall Hoxsey

    Sometimes just a day of relaxation is all that’s needed to clear out the cobwebs or whatever is blocking us from achieving our goals. Have a wonderful day in Vallejo and in Napa. If you have any spare time we invite you and Haylee to visit us at Napa Wine Company on Hwy 29. All of the employees are huge fans as the winery makes a yearly field to see a Giants game. I think a visit would pretty much make all the employees year!

  38. Carly Meyer

    Brandon! Come by Clif Family Winery in St. Helena! We also make Clif bars!

    709 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574

    Go Giants!

  39. Nancy

    I hope you both enjoy your off-day. Napa is lovely. And Brandon the Giraffe is adorable!

    I know it’s easy for us fans to say “relax and have fun”. Just remember that there are a lot of us pulling for you. I doubt I’ll make another game this year, but I’m definitely going to have my hat in time for next season!

  40. ramredcat

    Brandon, please don’t put pressure on yourself. You are an awesome player and the fans love you no matter what. You are going to have a great career, and we all know it. Just relax and have fun, like the fans are having fun rooting for you and calling you baby giraffe. I watched you play in Fresno and am so happy that you are in SF for good (I was the gal in the front row behind the on deck up circle that always yelled your name, lol). I took some great pictures of you as a Grizzly, but all the future ones will be at a Giant!

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