San Francisco Giants

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The San Francisco Giants are a Major League Baseball team based in San Francisco, California. They play in the Western Division of the National League.

Founded: either 1879 or 1883. The Troy Haymakers (or sometimes Trojans) were expelled from the National League after the 1882 season. New York had been without a club since 1878, when its club had been expelled; John B. Day was awarded the New York franchise, and so bought up the defunct Troy club.
Formerly known as: New York Gothams (1883-1884), New York Giants (1885-1957), moved to San Francisco in 1958. Also colloquially known as "Jints" (rhymes with "pints") from their New York days. Also referred to in old days as "The Polo Grounders".
Home ballpark: SBC Park (formerly known as Pacific Bell Park or "Pac Bell" Park, 2000-2003)
Previous ballparks: The Polo Grounds (New York) (1891-1957), Seals Stadium (1958-1959), Candlestick Park (1960-1999)
Uniform colors: Black, Orange, and Off-white
Logo design: The word "GIANTS" superimposed over a baseball. Alternatively, a script "G", or an intertwined "SF".
Wild Card titles won (1): 2002
Division titles won (6): 1971, 1987, 1989, 1997, 2000, 2003
National League pennants won (20): 1888, 1889, 1904, 1905, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1917, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1951, 1954, 1962, 1989, 2002
World Series championships won (5): 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1954
Contents

Franchise history

The New York years (1883-1957)

One of the most storied clubs in American professional sports, the Giants began life as a second baseball club founded by John B. Day and Jim Mutrie. The Gothams (as the Giants were originally known) were their entry to the National League, while their other club, the Metropolitans (the original Mets) played in the American Association. While the Metropolitans were initially the more successful club, Day and Mutrie began moving star players to the Gothams and the team won its first National League pennant in 1888.

It is said that after one particularly satisfying victory, Mutrie (who was also the team's manager) stormed into the dressing room and exclaimed, "My big fellows! My giants!" From then on, the club was known as the Giants.

The Giants' original home stadium, the Polo Grounds, also dates from this early era. Originally located on the corner of 110th Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, the Polo Grounds moved uptown, to 155th Street and 8th Avenue. There the Giants would make it their home in New York City.

Though considered "the worst owner in the world" during his time, Andrew Freeman changed the Giants' fortunes. In 1902, after a series of disastrous moves that left the Giants 53 1/2 games behind, Freedman signed John McGraw as a player-manager. McGraw would go on and manage the Giants for three decades, one of the longest tenures in professional sports. Under McGraw, the Giants would win ten National League pennants and three World Series championships.

The Giants already had their share of stars during its brief history at this point, such as Smiling Mickey Welch, Roger Connor, Tim Keefe, Jim O'Rourke and Monte Ward, the player-lawyer who formed the renegade Players League in 1890 to protest unfair player contracts. McGraw would also cultivate his own crop of baseball heroes during his time with the Giants. Names such as Christy Mathewson, Iron Man Joe McGinnity, Bill Terry, Jim Thorpe, Mel Ott and Casey Stengel are just a sample of the many players who honed their skills under McGraw.

The Giants under McGraw famously snubbed their first ever modern World Series chance in 1904--an encounter with the Boston Americans (now known as the "Red Sox")--because McGraw considered the new American League as little more than a minor league. His original relunctance was concern that the intra-city rival New York Americans or "Highlanders" looked like they would win the AL pennant. The Highlanders lost to Boston on the last day, but the Giants stuck by their refusal.

The ensuing criticism resulted in Giants' owner John T. Brush leading an effort to formalize the rules and format of the World Series. The Giants were back in 1905, winning the Series over the Philadelphia Athletics, with Christy Mathewson nearly winning the Series single-handedly. It would be the last time (as of 2004) that the Giants would best the A's in the post-season, as they have since proven to be a nemesis to the Giants on both coasts.

The Giants then had several frustrating years. In 1908 they finished in a tie with the Chicago Cubs and had a one-game playoff at the Polo Grounds (actually a replay of a controversial tied game resulting from Fred Merkle's "boner") which they lost to the Cubs, who would go on to win their second, and so far last World Series. That post-season game was further darkened by a story that someone on the Giants had attempted to bribe umpire Bill Klem. This could have been a disastrous scandal for baseball, but because Klem was honest and the Giants lost, it faded over time.

The Giants experienced some hard luck in the early 1910s, losing three straight World Series to the A's, the Red Sox, then the A's again. After losing the 1917 Series to the Chicago White Sox (the other Chicago team's last World Series win as of 2004), the Giants got it together and played in four straight World Series in the early 1920s, winning the first two over their tenants, the Yankees, then losing to the Yankees in 1923 when Yankee Stadium opened. They also lost in 1924, when the Washington Senators won their only World Series in their history (prior to their move to Minnesota).

McGraw handed over the team to Bill Terry in 1932, and Terry played for and managed the Giants for ten years, winning three pennants and one World Series. Aside from Terry himself, the other stars of the era were Ott and Carl Hubbell, one of three pitchers in baseball history to master the screwball (along with Mathewson and Fernando Valenzuela). Known as "King Carl" and "The Meal Ticket", Hubbell gained fame during the 1934 All-Star Game, when he struck out--all in a row--Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin.

Mel Ott succeeded Terry as manager in 1942, but the war years proved to be difficult for the Giants. In 1948, Leo Durocher became manager of the Giants, with some controversy--Durocher had been manager of the Giants' rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers, but he had been accused of gambling in 1947 and had been suspended and the Dodgers let him go the following year. Durocher remained at the helm until 1955, and those eight years proved to be some of the most memorable for Giants fans, particularly because of the arrival of Willie Mays and two famous games.

The Shot Heard 'Round The World (1951)

One of the more famous episodes in major league baseball history, "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" is the name given to Bobby Thomson's walk-off home run that clinched the National League pennant for the Giants over their rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. This game was the third of a three-game playoff series that was called after one of baseball's more memorable pennant races. The Giants had been thirteen and a half games behind the league-leading Dodgers, but under Durocher's guidance the Giants caught up to tie the Dodgers for the lead on the last day of the season.

The game is also remembered for Russ Hodges' commentary for WMCA Radio:

Bobby Thomson up there swinging...He's had two out of three, a single and a double, and Billy Cox is playing him right on the third base line...One out, last of the ninth...Branca pitches and Bobby takes a strike call on the inside corner...Bobby hitting at .292...He's had a single and a double and drove in the Giants' first run with a long fly to center...Brooklyn leads it 4-2...Hartung down the line at third not taking any chances...Lockman with not too big a lead at second, but he'll be running like the wind if Thomson hits one...Branca throws...There's a long drive...It's gonna be...I believe...THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!...BOBBY THOMSON HITS INTO THE LOWER DECK OF THE LEFT FIELD STANDS!...THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT AND THEY'RE GOING CRAZY! THEY'RE GOING CRAZY!...HEEEEY-OH!!!

Unfortunately for the "Jints", despite that dramatic regular season end, another frequent nemesis called the Yankees won the 1951 World Series.

The Catch (1954)

In game one of the 1954 World Series, Willie Mays made "The Catch" -- a dramatic over-the-shoulder catch off a line drive by Vic Wertz to deep center field which could otherwise have given the Cleveland Indians victory. The underdog Giants went on to win the World Series that year in four straight.

The Move Westward (1957)

The Giants' final three years in New York City were unmemorable. They stumbled to third place the year after their World Series win and attendances plunged. Despite objections from shareholders such as Joan Whitney Payson, majority owner Horace Stoneham entered into negotiations with San Francisco mayor George Christopher around the same time that Dodgers' owner Walter O'Malley was courting the city of Los Angeles. In the summer of 1957, both teams announced their moves West, and the golden era of baseball in New York City ended.

New York would remain a one-team town until 1962 when Joan Whitney Payson founded the New York Mets and brought National League baseball back to the city. The "NY" script on the Giants' caps, along with the orange trim on their uniforms, and the blue background used by the Dodgers, would be adopted by the Mets. The Mets still use this color scheme today.

The San Francisco years (1958–)

In sharp contrast to the New York years, the Giants' fortunes in San Francisco have been mixed. Though recently the club has enjoyed relatively sustained success, there have also been prolonged stretches of mediocrity, along with two instances when the club's ownership threatened to move it out of San Francisco. Most disappointingly for the large fan base that they have maintained ever since their arrival in the city, the Giants have as yet failed to win a World Series title for San Francisco.

After a brief sojourn in Seals Stadium, the Giants moved to Candlestick Park (sometimes known simply as "The Stick"), a stadium built on a point in San Francisco's southeast corner overlooking San Francisco Bay. The new stadium quickly gained a reputation for being one of the most inhospitable in baseball, with swirling winds and cold temperatures making for a torturous experience; the radiant heating system installed never worked. Candlestick Park's reputation was sealed during the 1961 All-Star Game, when gusts of wind blew pitcher Stu Miller off the mound. The Giants no longer play at Candlestick Park, which has been renamed Monster Park and remains the home of the San Francisco 49ers football team.

The Giants may never have won a World Series since moving to San Francisco, but they have been close, playing in three of them. In 1962, they lost by 4 games to 3 to the New York Yankees, losing the final game in the bottom of the ninth, 1-0, in a pitchers' duel. With Matty Alou on first base and two outs, Willie Mays sliced a double down the right field line. Rightfielder Roger Maris, whose 61 home run season in 1961 has historically overshadowed his great defensive work, quickly got to the ball and rifled a throw to the infield, preventing Alou from scoring the tying run.

All Willie McCovey needed was a single. He hit a screaming line drive that was snared by second baseman Bobby Richardson, bringing the Series to a sudden end. Earlier in the inning, a failed bunt by Felipe Alou had ultimately resulted in Matty not scoring on Mays' double, which started a lifelong dedication to fundamentals on Felipe's part. In addition, to rub salt in the wound, Richardson was not originally positioned to catch the drive, he only moved there (three steps to the left) in reaction to a foul smash by McCovey on the previous pitch.

Giants fan Charles Schulz made a rare reference to the real world in one of his Peanuts strips soon afterward. In the first two panels, Charlie Brown and Linus are sitting on a porch step, looking glum. In the last panel, Charlie cries to the heavens, "Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?" Some weeks later, same scene. This time, Charlie cires, "Or why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just two feet higher?"

The Giants' next appearance in the post-season was 1971. In the League Championship Series, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Roberto Clemente easily defeated the Giants on their way ultimately to a World Series win over the Baltimore Orioles.

In 1989, the Giants faced the Oakland Athletics in the "Bay Bridge Series", also known as the BART Series in reference to both the Bay Area Rapid Transit and to the baseball Commissioner, Bart Giamatti, who had died suddenly just weeks before the end of the season. The series is perhaps best remembered for what happened on October 17, 1989 before Game 3 at Candlestick Park. In the pre-game TV segment, some game footage was being shown. Unbeknownst to the viewing audience just yet, the ground was beginning to shake. The picture became staticky, the distracted commentator did a verbal double-take, and then Al Michaels broke in and said, "I'll tell you what; we're having an earthqu-" just as power went out. The 7.1-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake caused no major injuries at the ballpark, but there were a number of fatalities in other parts of the cities. The quake caused a ten-day delay in the Series that Oakland led 2-0 at the time. Oakland went on to sweep San Francisco 4 games to none, as the Giants did not have the starting pitching to match up with Oakland.

Following the '89 World Series defeat, a local ballot initiative to fund a new stadium in San Francisco failed, threatening the franchise's future in the city. After the 1992 season, owner Bob Lurie, who had previously saved the franchise from moving to Toronto in 1976, put the team up for sale. A group of investors from Saint Petersburg reached an agreement to purchase the team and move them across the country. However, Major League Baseball blocked the move, paving the way for the team to stay in San Francisco with an ownership group lead by Peter Magowan, the former CEO of Safeway. Before even hiring a new General Manager or officially being approved as the new owners, Magowan signed superstar free agent Barry Bonds (a move which the MLB initially blocked until some terms were negotiated to protect Lurie and Bonds in case the sale failed), a move that shaped the franchise's fortunes for more than a decade.

The Barry Bonds era started with a bang as Barry put up the numbers for the third MVP of his career: 46 homers, 129 runs, 123 RBI, .336/.458/.677/1.135, all career highs. This led the Giants to a great 103-59 record in Dusty Baker's first year as manager, which earned Dusty the Manager of the Year award. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Braves won the NL West by one game as the Giants, in first place much of the year, were just not as hot as the Braves after they picked up Fred McGriff in a mid-season trade. A late-season win streak did put the Giants in position to determine their fate, but destiny spat in their face again as Salomon Torres, their just called-up ace pitching prospect, was put in the impossible position of needing a win against their hated rivals the Dodgers, and was battered.

The period of 1994 to 1996 were not good years for the Giants, punctuated by the strike that cancelled the World Series in 1994. The strike cost Matt Williams a chance to beat Roger Maris' single season home run record - he was on pace for over 60 homers when the strike hit with 47 games left to play. The Giants then came in last place in both 1995 and 1996, as key injuries and slumps hurt them. The only bright spot was Barry Bonds, highlighted by his joining the 40-40 club with 42 homers and 40 stolen bases in the 1996 season.

These bad times led the Giants to name Brian Sabean as their new general manager, replacing Bob Quinn. Prior to being named GM, he was already rumored to have engineered the deal to get Kirk Rueter from the Montreal Expos. In his first trade as GM, he shocked Giants fans across the world by trading Matt Williams for seemingly a bunch of spare parts, and the reaction was great enough for him to have to publicly explain: "I didn't get to this point by being an idiot... I'm sitting here telling you there is a plan."

It turns out he was indeed not an "idiot," as the players he acquired in the Williams trade - Jeff Kent, Jose Vizcaino, Julian Tavarez, and Joe Roa (plus the $1 million in cash that enabled them to sign Darryl Hamilton) - plus the trade for J.T. Snow enabled the Giants to win their first NL West division title of the 1990s in 1997. Unfortunately, the Florida Marlins ended the Giants' season with a 3-0 sweep in the first round of playoffs, as the Marlins marched on their way to their first World Series championship.

2000 was the Giants' inaugural season in Pacific Bell Park, and after a horrendous and inauspicious 0-6 start at their new home, they roared off to win their second NL West title under Sabean and Baker, finishing with the best record in the National League. They actually ended up with a great home record of 55-26, despite the fact that lefties not named Barry Bonds had their power cancelled by Pac Bell Park's configuration. Pac Bell Park played like parks from olden times, boosting up doubles and especially triples, but dampening home run power. The Giants were booted out in the first round of playoffs by the New York Mets, however, 3 games to 1, highlighted by Edgardo Alfonzo's clutch hitting, J.T. Snow's leaning 3-run homer off Armando Benitez to push game 2 into extra innings, and Bobby Jones pitching the game of his life in game 4 to clinch the series.

Following division championships in 1997 and 2000, the Giants reached the World Series again in 2002 as the wild card team. As underdogs in 2002, they beat two teams who had been thorns in the San Franciso Giants' side for much of the life of the franchise: the Braves and the Cardinals. They first defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS 3 games to 2, and then the St. Louis Cardinals (who had beaten the Giants in the NLCS 4 games to 3 in 1987), in the NLCS 4 games to 1, to stake claim to their first NL pennant since 1989.

The Giants faced their wild card counterparts from the American League, the Anaheim Angels, in the 2002 World Series. The games seesawed from well pitched games to wild affairs during the series. The Giants eventually took a 3-2 lead in the series, winning Game 5 by a lopsided 16-4 score. In the seventh inning of that game, a scary and touching moment occurred. With J.T. Snow and David Bell on base, Kenny Lofton smashed what proved to be a triple. As Snow streaked toward home plate, he suddenly became aware that manager Dusty Baker's small son, Darren, had come out on the field to retrieve Lofton's bat. With Bell racing right behind him, Snow deftly snared little Darren by his jacket while stepping on home plate, getting the young'un out of harm's way. As he carried him back to the dugout, he asked him, "Are you OK, buddy?" and Darren assured him that he was.

The Giants were up 5-0 in the seventh inning of Game 6, just eight outs away from their first championship since moving to San Francisco, when Dusty flipped the ball to Russ Ortiz as a souvenir, angering the Angels' players. The Angels then staged a historic rally (apparently helped in part by the scoreboard icon, the "Rally Monkey") to win the game as the bullpen collectively fell apart (with fans not realizing that this was Robb Nen's last appearance as a major leaguer), and then defeated Livn Hernndez in Game 7 to win their first World Series in franchise history.

In 2003, the Giants recorded 100 victories for the seventh time in franchise history and the third time in San Francisco. With their 100-61 record, the Giants spent the entire season in first place in the NL West. They became just the ninth wire-to-wire winner of a division or pennant in baseball history. The previous three were Baltimore in 1997, Cleveland in 1998, and Seattle in 2001. They lost to the wild card Florida Marlins 3 games to 1 in the 2003 National League Division Series as Ivan Rodriguez, offensively and defensively, led the way for the Marlins to their second World Series championship in seven seasons.

In 2004, the Giants ended the season one game behind the Houston Astros for the wild card race, and two games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the division race. It was only the second time this decade in which the Giants failed to make the postseason, 2001 being the other occasion. Once again, their fierce rivals the Dodgers prevented them from winning the division, with a stunning come-from-behind victory on a Steve Finley grand slam. Barry Bonds received his fourth consecutive MVP award, marking the fifth consecutive year a Giant has received the award—Jeff Kent received it in 2000—a feat no other team has accomplished. It was also the first time the Giants had finished first or second in their division for eight consecutive seasons since they consistently were first or second from 1917-1925 whilst still the New York Giants.

What has not changed is the Giants' share of stars gracing the field. Willie Mays, one of the last holdovers of the New York years, thrived in San Francisco, as did Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou, Gaylord Perry, Bobby Bonds, Jack Clark, and Juan Marichal. Recent stars include Will Clark, Matt Williams, Barry Bonds, and Jason Schmidt.

The team is presently coached by former star player Felipe Alou, whose son Moiss was amongst the new players brought in by the Giants prior to the 2005 season. Other new additions include shortstop Omar Vizquel, relief pitcher Armando Benitez and catcher Mike Matheny, a multiple Gold Glove Award winner. The biggest star on the team by some distance, however, is still Barry Bonds, despite the fact that he has not played at all in 2005 due to a knee injury. There are question marks over Bonds' status, with speculation that, at age 40, he may decide to retire from baseball.

Indeed, the Giants' present roster has one of the highest average ages in all of Major League Baseball. Moiss Alou is 38, as are Vizquel and outfielder Marquis Grissom, while first baseman J.T. Snow is 37. Much of the team's youth is presently focused amongst their pitchers, with the popular Noah Lowry, 24, a rising star who went unbeaten in his first 16 appearances in the majors. That said, the roster does also include 42-year-old left-handed pitcher Jeff Fassero.

Manager Felipe Alou claims to be unconcerned by the age of his squad members. His philosophy is one of aiming for immediate success, rather than building towards the future. It is a philosophy which has been seen from other successful MLB franchises lately, notably the Boston Red Sox, who signed pitcher Curt Schilling, then 37, prior to the 2004 season which culminated in a World Series title for the 'Sox and a key role for Schilling in that victory.

The Giants' attempts to return to the playoffs in 2005 did not get off to the best start, however. The team has struggled to win games so far this season, and were dealt another major blow when it was announced that Benitez - signed in the offseason specifically to solve the team's closer woes of the past couple of seasons - would miss four-to-six months after tearing his right hamstring when he stepped awkwardly to cover first base on the final play in a game against the San Diego Padres on April 26th. He was rewarded with the out. At the time of writing, Tyler Walker has temporarily assumed a closer role, amid speculation that Benitez may not return at all this season.

Further injuries have hampered the Giants, with ace starting pitcher Jason Schmidt also missing games, and, as of June 13th, the team has a record of 25 wins compared to 36 losses, which leaves them fourth in the NL West standings, ten games begind the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks. At the present time, Barry Bonds' playing future remains very much in doubt as well, although some positive noises from the Giants' camp have led fans to once again hope that a comeback from their superstar slugger is a little nearer on the horizon.

On May 25, 2005, the Giants held a celebration in honor of Baseball Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. A statue of Marichal was dedicated on the plaza outside of the ballpark. Leonel Fernndez, the President of the Dominican Republic, was in attendance. In the two games which followed the ceremonies, the Giants wore uniforms with the word "Gigantes" on the front (the Spanish word for "Giants".)

Broadcasters

On Fox Sports Net television, the Giants games are called by Duane Kuiper and colored by Mike Krukow. On KTVU, Jon Miller calls play-by-play and Mike Krukow colors. On the radio, Jon Miller and Dave Flemming take turns calling the games (usually Miller will call innings 1-3 and 7-9, and Flemming will call innings 4-6).

Miller holds a second job as play-by-play announcer for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball and therefore usually misses Saturday's game as well as Sunday's. On these occasions, Greg Papa will either fill in on the radio, or Kuiper will move to the radio side and Papa will join Krukow on television.

After the game, all of the announcers will come together on the radio side and give their opinions on the game. Even after a blow-out loss, this segment is usually quite humorous and uplifting.

Players of note

Baseball Hall of Famers

Current 25-man roster (updated on June 13, 2005)

Pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Disabled list

Manager

Coaches

Others not to be forgotten

Retired numbers

   * Has retirement honors, as he played in the era prior to uniform numbers

* * Has retirement honors, with a numberless jersey retired on the outfield wall

Single Season Records

  • Batting average: Bill Terry, .401 (1930)
  • Home runs: Barry Bonds, 73 (2001) [MLB record]
  • Runs batted in: Mel Ott, 151 (1929)
  • Runs: Mike Tiernan, 147 (1889)
  • Hits: Bill Terry, 254 (1930)
  • Singles: Bill Terry, 177 (1930)
  • Doubles: Jeff Kent, 49 (2001)
  • Triples: George Davis, 27 (1893)
  • Extra-Base hits: Barry Bonds, 107 (2001)
  • Stolen bases: John Ward, 111 (1887)
  • Hitting streak: Jack Clark, 26 (1978)
  • Walks: Barry Bonds, 232 (2004) [MLB record]
  • Strikeouts: Bobby Bonds, 189 (1970)
  • Pitching wins: Mickey Welch, 44 (1885)
  • Pitching strikeouts: Mickey Welch, 345 (1884)
  • Pitching ERA: Christy Mathewson, 1.14 (1909)
  • Pitching saves: Rod Beck, 48 (1993)

References

  • Hynd, Noel (1988). The Giants of the Polo Grounds: the glorious times of baseball's New York Giants. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-23790-1.

External link

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