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Remembering Anita Sprinkes

Remembering Anita SprinklesAnita Sprinkles

 

Anita Sprinkles, a beloved member of the San Francisco Giants front office, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. She was 47, and her passing was announced during the Giants broadcast that night.
   

Radio broadcasters Jon Miller and Dave Flemming gave her a tribute over the air while Mike Krukow named her "the Player of the Game" on TV. Before Wednesday's game, a moment of silence was held in her honor.

   

Ms. Sprinkles had worked in the Giants organization for 26 years, starting when she was 21 and hired as a part-time group sales coordinator. She rose up step by step to become senior ticket operations manager. "She was a member of our family in an extraordinary and special way," said Giants President and CEO Larry Baer, who first met Ms. Sprinkles when the new ownership took over in 1992. "She was at Candlestick being a huge cog in our ticket mechanism," Baer added. "If you had a problem or a question you went to Anita. You not only got an answer; you'd often get a giggle and a sweet wink."

 

Parade participant

 

As an employee/fan she was indefatigable, and during October's World Series victory parade, she walked the entire route, carrying the front office banner most of the way, even though she was weakened by chemotherapy.

 

In June 2011, Ms. Sprinkles was diagnosed with cancer that started in her hip and spread to her lungs. After a year of treatment at Mills-Peninsula Health Services in San Mateo, she wanted to do something nice for the staff and her fellow patients, so she arranged for both of the Giants' World Series Trophies to pay a visit to Mills in March, on a day off from the trophies' victory tour.

 

"Anita is our favorite patient," her radiation oncologist Dr. Stephen Weller told The Chronicle, which covered the event. "She brings us joy despite her ailments."

 

During the two-hour trophy viewing, 250 members of the hospital family lined up for a photo while Ms. Sprinkles sat off to the side, smiling. She was trying not to draw attention, although the bling of her authentic championship ring didn't help and neither did her trademark leopard print vest, beret and shoes.  "I'm the leopard-print person," she said. "Everybody at work knows me as that."

 

For the last year, as Ms. Sprinkles has been in and out of treatment, her co-workers in ticket sales and services formed "Cheetah for Anita," and wore ribbons bearing spots to the office and to games.

 

First pitch

 

Ms. Sprinkles wore her own leopard gear beneath her vintage Giants jacket from the Candlestick era to throw out the first pitch for the Friday night game of the Bay Bridge Series in late March. She made it to five more games this year, plus one office outing to see the San Jose Giants farm team on June 6, which turned out to be her last Giants game.

 

Anita Beth Wessell was born Dec. 12, 1965, in Shreveport, La. Her family moved first to Palo Alto and then Marin County, where she graduated from Marin Catholic High School. In 1988, she graduated from the sports administration department of the University of San Francisco while she was already working for the Giants. She was married to co-worker Stanley Sprinkles, but that ended in divorce.

  

For 20 years, she lived in San Mateo, where she was a regular at Curves women's gym.

 

She is survived by her father, David Wessell of Alta Loma (San Bernardino County), and a brother, Dan Wessell of Fort Jones (Siskiyou County).

 

A memorial service will be held July 18, at 1:05 p.m. (first pitch) at AT&T Park. Donations may be made to the Giants Community Fund, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107 or to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital at www.stjude.org.

 

Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: swhiting@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @samwhitingsf

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