It started with a Tweet: The story behind the Bay Bridge Series trophy

Some baseball purists still cringe at the notion of inter-league play during Major League Baseball’s regular season, but one indisputable benefit of the practice is the advent of cross-town series in markets with two teams. This gives us Mets-Yankees, Cubs-White Sox, and A’s-Giants for multiple series every season.

Last summer, NBC Sports’ Brodie Brazil, who among many other on-air duties is the host of the Oakland A’s pre-game show, was watching a cross-town matchup between the Cubs and the White Sox and saw that the winner of that season series received a trophy. If it worked in Chicago, he wondered, why can’t we do something like that in the Bay Area?

“I posed a poll on Twitter to see if local fans would be interested in having some kind of similar hardware going to the regular season winner,” Brazil said. “The response was pretty positive, and so were some of the ideas that folks responded with. Several accounts mentioned fashioning such a trophy from steel that was part of the old Bay Bridge eastern span.”

The Bay Bridge, longer but less famous than nearby Golden Gate, connects Oakland and San Francisco. Its eastern span, built in the 1930s, had been demolished and rebuilt in 2015, so there was a heap of historically significant scrap metal looking for a home.

Brazil reached out to CalTrans, the local transit authority, and dipped his toe into the administrative and bureaucratic adventure of procuring a piece of the bridge and getting both Bay Area baseball teams on board with creating a trophy from it.

“CalTrans had a lot of questions, and I don’t blame them one bit,” Brazil said. “Who are you guys? Why do you want this? Are the teams on board with this? Why should we give it to you?”

In the end, CalTrans supported the project and provided the metal—and was surprisingly easy to work with, so far as government agencies go, according to Brazil. Next up was getting the teams on board. Brazil approached the A’s and Giants with a proposal that included design, rules, fabrication, and presentation. Since he works with the A’s directly, Brazil was able to get Oakland’s investment right away. After the proposal, the Giants soon followed, and even offered support in terms of design and execution of the project.

“The design was a collaborative effort,” Brazil said. “We invited a lot of chefs into the kitchen, which was important because a large group of public would be evaluating this concept… so why not get as much input as possible in all the ideas floating around?”

The final concepts were put together by Scientific Art Studio (who also created the giant glove and the Coke bottle at AT&T Park) and Oakland-based industrial arts school The Crucible. The trophy features interchangeable team logos (depending on who wins the series each year) set on a cross beam, as well as a baseball with the Bay Bridge Series logo on top of a vertical truss.

The final product will stand about 18 inches tall—the original idea was for a larger trophy, but there was one important limiting factor in the design.

“Weight was a HUGE issue,” Brazil said. “Our main requirement was a final trophy that was  ‘hoistable’ by one adult.”

The Bay Series will take place this year July 13-15 in San Francisco and July 20-22 in Oakland. The first winner of the Bridge Trophy will be the team who wins more games, or in the event of a tie, the team who wins the final game of the series.

“Now it’s all about the excitement in waiting… for this sketch to become the actual tangible trophy that will be delivered sometime early this summer,” Brazil said. “I can’t wait to hold that final product in my own hands.”