Pizarro: A welcome return to San Jose Municipal Stadium

It's baseball's opening week, and while most of the attention is aimed at the major league clubs in San Francisco and Oakland, there's plenty of excitement around San Jose Municipal Stadium, where the San Jose Giants open Thursday night.

And why not get excited? Some of the San Francisco Giants' big World Series stars over the past six years got their start at Muni with the San Jose Giants. I stopped by the park -- 74 years old and still looking good for its age -- during Monday's FanFest, where new skipper Lipso Nava and the team were signing autographs and posing for photos with fans.

There are a few other things new for fans at Municipal Stadium, too: The VIP deck has been expanded and renovated, and there are a few new food offerings, such as Hard Fresco's Noodle Stand, which will serve noodle bowls along with Mexican "hard" sodas, as well as ice cream sundaes from Willow Glen Creamery.

Rows of new box seats, coming from AT&T Park, are going to be installed behind home plate. I expect they'll be pretty nice, but they hadn't arrived as of Monday. Temp seats will be in their place until they find their way to San Jose.

Of course, there's still Beer Batter and Turkey Mike's barbecue to keep bellies filled. And one of the San Jose Giants' best recent traditions returns on Saturday. Partnering with Operation: Care and Comfort, the Giants will be honoring the men and women who serve in the military, and will be distributing a set of Military Trading Cards -- featuring current personnel and veterans nominated by fans -- to the first 1,000 people through the gates. For the schedule and other promotions, go to www.sjgiants.com.

HILARITY ENSUES: San Jose Stage Company is following up the intense and moving drama of "Valley of the Heart" with something a little lighter. "Boeing Boeing," the farce about a 1960s playboy juggling flight attendant girlfriends while living in Paris, opens at the company's downtown San Jose theater Saturday night. You can get in on the fun at www.thestage.org, and remember, back then they called them "stewardesses."

More shenanigans, this time ship-bound, are going on in Saratoga. West Valley Light Opera has docked a battleship onstage for its current production, "Dames at Sea." The show ships out on Saturday, leaving just two chances to catch some great dancing on deck. Passage may be booked at www.wvlo.org.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Over the weekend, I heard from former Mercury News sports editor and golf writer Dan Hruby, who is living the good life in retirement down in San Luis Obispo. Reading about Yosh Uchida reminded him of one encounter he had with the San Jose State and Olympic judo coach.

Hruby got to know Uchida, who just turned 96, at San Jose State and when they both went to the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. During an interview at the Merc, Hruby says he voiced his doubts about Uchida's claim that a small man could beat a bigger man in judo. Uchida literally called him out to the parking lot and told Hruby to bring a photographer.

"Five minutes later, the 5-foot-2-inch-tall Yosh had lifted my 6-3, 192-pound frame above his head, and he was spinning me around," Hruby recalled. "I get dizzy thinking about it."

Contact Sal Pizarro at spizarro@mercurynews.com. Follow him at Facebook.com/mercurynews.aroundtown and Twitter.com/spizarro.



Watershed Announces New Insights Division

PORTLAND, Ore. (February 24, 2016) — Watershed Communications, an award-winning national food and beverage brand strategy firm, is pleased to announce the addition of a new in-house research department. Natalie Padilla, an ethnographer and Millennial expert, joins the Portland-based team to head up the Insights Department. Padilla – a graduate of Harvard University – brings with her a wealth of experience, having consulted with numerous Fortune 100s on brand development and consumer strategy.

“We’re very excited about these new capabilities,” says Lisa Donoughe, Watershed’s founder. “The food and beverage world is shifting dramatically. By 2017 Millennials will spend $200 billion annually. So you have a whole new consumer group to understand, a fragmented media landscape to navigate, and new products introduced from the industry everyday.”

Watershed’s in-house research division will produce quarterly proprietary projects, each focused on a particular issue facing food & beverage clients. In addition, the company will offer custom research for clients including qualitative and quantitative projects, as well as generational consulting workshops. The first workshop is set to take place in April of this year.

“Businesses have an immense amount of data online right at their fingertips; yet, without proper context it’s just noise,” Padilla explains. “Qualitative research is key, now more than ever. Lacking a highly precise marketing strategy is costly for long-term business success.” The collaboration is effective immediately.

About Watershed Communications

Founded in 1999 Watershed Communications is a nimble brand strategy and PR agency specializing in the artisan food and drink economy, representing both small and large category- leading clients. Watershed offers a unique suite of services including public relations, social media strategy, generational and category insight and research, marketing awareness, distribution growth and more. Watershed prides itself on cutting through the clutter and telling distinctive stories and building brand equity. Watershed has offices in Portland, Ore., New York, NY and Pittsburgh, Penn. For a complete client list and to discover the latest and greatest, visit www.watershedcom.com