SAN FRANCISCO -- When Brian Wilson first started playing organized baseball, long before growing his trademark beard and helping the Giants win the 2010 World Series, his favorite day of the year came just before the season started.
He would go to Sports Authority with his father and pore over the expensive gloves they had in stock. Then, he deadpanned Thursday afternoon, he would go to K-Mart and buy a cheaper glove he could afford.
"Every year, I'd get to go to Sports Authority, and it's like baseball heaven in there. It was all the new gear and the gloves," Wilson said. "You tell your dad this is the glove you want. And, of course, Dad's like, 'This is too much. What is this glove?' And then you get the downgrade. But it's still your glove, and it still has the laces and you're chewing on it."
Thursday afternoon, Wilson gave 1,000 children from the Giants Community Fund's Junior Giants baseball program new Wilson baseball gloves of their own, also providing them tickets to Thursday night's Giants-Padres series finale and engaging in a question-and-answer session. The closer came up with the idea himself, looking back on those days at Sports Authority and remembering how exciting it was to get something as simple as a new glove.
And the gesture wasn't lost on the Little Leaguers on the receiving end of Wilson's gesture -- nor was the chance to meet one of their favorite players.
"I'm very excited to see the Giants play, like always," said 9-year-old Ryan Tso. "Brian Wilson is one of my favorite players. ... I think it's very cool."
Tso is playing in his first year with the Junior Giants, a free, non-competitive, co-ed program for 17,000 children in over 85 underserved communitites. The children in attendance Thursday were from the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, San Francisco Police Activities and San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department.
The kids bombarded Wilson with questions, which he answered with his usual blend of sarcasm, honesty and deadpan humor. Some were innocent, "When did you start playing baseball? What position would you play if not pitcher?" Others were a bit more serious, "Were you sad when Buster Posey went down with a season-ending injury?" And a few were hilarious. One child stepped up to the microphone and asked Wilson if he was still a ninja, as he once claimed.
For what it's worth, Wilson replied that he was, in fact, still a ninja.
Unsurprisingly, Wilson fielded several queries about his famous black beard, including his favorite question of the day.
"The way the kid asked, 'Why do you have a big beard?' -- I don't know how to answer that," he said. "Just because ... I do."
During the question-and-answer session, Wilson said one of his favorite Little League memories was getting to eat orange slices and drink Capri Sun after every game, no matter what happened. So, fittingly, as he was personally handing out gloves to some of the children, one brought him a pouch of orange Capri Sun.
"My day is complete," he said.
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.