Usher Greets Fans with Open Arms

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Source: 12019, via pixabay (CC0)

This piece is one of six usher profiles I wrote that were published by Major League Baseball on the San Francisco Giants website in 2004. They originally appeared in my Guest Services paper newsletter, ‘The Home Plate.’ To read the piece online, click here.

Folks come out to the ballgame for many reasons. If they regularly take the Willie Mays Lobby elevator to the View Level, one of the reasons they come is for their hug from usher Sedonia Broussard. And pity the poor Guest Services employee who is standing in for Broussard on one of her rare days off.

A recent replacement told her, incredulously, “People come off the elevator with their arms open. They say, ‘Where’s Sedonia? Where’s my hug and kiss?'”

And the feelings are decidedly two-way. “I love it there,” Broussard says. “I have met so many beautiful people. It’s been like a brand new family. And it’s beautiful to be needed.”

Broussard has been in her primary position for almost her whole tenure with the Giants. Hired in June 2001, she worked a couple of times in an aisle in the AAA Club. One day, she was assigned to an aisle on the View Level, and she tells how she went up early to see what it was like. Her face registers the shock she felt when she gazed up at 18 rows of seats, knowing she was expected to climb them as part of her job.

“I said, ‘You didn’t tell me I’d have to walk to heaven. If I walk up there, they’ll have to get the paramedics,'” she says. That’s how she came to be assigned to the elevator lobby, and the rest is a small slice of SBC Park history.

Sedonia’s personal history began in Raceland, La., where she was born. Her grandparents had lost an infant daughter with the same name, so they made an agreement with their remaining two sons. The first one to have a daughter would name her Sedonia, and at 6 months old they would take the child and raise her as their own. When she was born, Broussard’s father kept his word, and she lived with her grandparents in Morgan City, La.

Broussard’s parents were also part of her life. Her father worked for the Southern Pacific railroad and died quite young when a rail fell on him in a construction accident.

“I remember kissing his face in the casket,” Broussard recalls.

Her mother moved to San Francisco with her five own sisters to find work, and when Sedonia was 5, she traveled here with her grandmother to reunite with her mother.

Of her grandmother’s goals for her, Broussard says, “She was determined that I was going to go to school before she left California. She had big plans for me in Louisiana — she had my life mapped out, baby.”

Broussard grew up in the Fillmore district and attended George Washington High. She graduated City College at age 20, and went on to San Francisco State, earning a degree in child psychology. While at State, she was close to two other young women who aspired to be nurses, and Broussard decided to follow them. “I fell in love with it right away,” she says.

As a career, nursing “took me lots of places,” Broussard says. After graduating she worked locally at Mount Zion, Kaiser and San Francisco General hospitals. She then spent three years at the Army hospital at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. When her grandfather took ill in Louisiana in 1974, she went there to take care of him until he passed away at age 91 in 1977.

“He was a beautiful man,” she says.

While in Louisiana, she worked in the small-town clinic. She was reluctant to take the job offered her by the local doctor, because the clinic at that time was all white.

“I was scared stiff — I was the only black nurse in the clinic,” she says. The doctor prevailed, and she came to love the job. Eventually, Broussard notes with pride, “The little white girls would say, ‘I want Sedonia to give me my shot!’ I enjoyed those three years, I really did.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Broussard later worked as a private duty nurse in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her patient was wealthy, and every day they took a helicopter to a different island for lunch.

“It’s beautiful, but it costs too much to live there,” she notes of island life.

Broussard has been an avid bowler since the 1960s. She won her first trophy then, and she realized that “if I can win a trophy with this little score, I can keep doing it.” And keep on doing it she has. She is now the director emeritus of the San Francisco Women’s Bowling Association, having been involved since 1977.

Her personal high score was 263, which she rolled on her birthday, Nov. 22, 1996. She admits she was drinking champagne that day, and says with a sly smile on her face, “I was drunk as a skunk.”

Some other sports she has enjoyed are golf, horseback riding and tennis. “I don’t like baseball,” she whispers conspiratorially. So why is she a Giants usher?

Her good friends from the New Providence Baptist Church are Guest Services employees Irma Williams and Ethel Knight. One day they said to her, “You’re not doing anything; how would you like to come out and work for the Giants?”

Having retired from nursing six years before, Broussard says her immediate reaction was, “Girls, you said work! I’ll think about it.” After some consideration, she decided to come to a job fair and much to her surprise, she was hired.

When she told her son Glenn she was coming out of retirement, he assumed she meant nursing. Told her new work address, he said, “Mommy, you’ve got to be out of your mind!” When she got home from her first day at the ballpark, there was a foot bath sitting at her door.

“He knew what to get his mama,” she says, mimicking how painful it was to walk after that first day.

After a game at SBC Park, Broussard sends everyone off with a heartfelt “Have a safe trip home!” Her eyes light up while she regales a listener with stories about the people she met that day, or how a regular brought her a home-baked chocolate chip cookie. A feisty 78, her world is indeed a “beautiful” place.

Author: paulaonpoint

I live in Oakland, CA and am a native of Trenton, NJ. I love everything about the ocean, especially friendly whales. I'm a warrior in the fight to protect and restore Planet Earth. And I'm a cat person, as Ziggy and ZuZu can attest.

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