One of the Giants' best moves of the offseason was to secure a nostalgia piece, an authentic time traveler by the name of Hunter Pence. He walks among us as a 21st century man, but everything about him suggests celluloid film, simpler pleasures and the distinctive ring of a dial-up phone.

Even his new contract - for one year - is a throwback. He's not complaining, nor will any fan who appreciates a true original. The Giants offer their fans a veritable circus of ballpark entertainment, and Pence is the zany sideshow, right at home amid the toy giraffes and panda hats, a curiously essential part of the scene.

As the White Sox-Giants exhibition unfolded on a glorious Monday afternoon, Pence was a study unto himself. I can't recall a ballplayer who approaches the game quite like him, but every bit of evidence is a link to the past.

It started before the game, when I stopped by his locker for a quick chat. There was a time when players cherished the notion of being interviewed, for they had no other way to engage the public. Those days are long gone, thanks to ESPN, the Internet and the swirl of social networking, making it increasingly difficult to have a meaningful conversation.