San Francisco Giants
Opened: March 31, 2000
Address: 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 972-2000
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The San Francisco Giants are a Major League Baseball (MLB) team based inSan Francisco, California, playing in the National League West Division. Originally known as the New York Giants, the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. They are the reigning World Series champion.
As one of the longest-established baseball teams, they have won the most games of any team in the history of American baseball, and any North American professional sports team. They have won 22 National Leaguepennants and appeared in 19 World Series competitions – both records in theNational League. The Giants’ 7 World Series Championships rank second in the National League (the St. Louis Cardinals have won 11). The Giants have played in the World Series a National League record 19 times, but boycotted the event in 1904. With their history, the Giants have the most Hall of Fame players in all of professional baseball. The Giants’ rivalry with the Dodgers is one of the longest standing and biggest rivalries in American baseball.
The Giants played at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, New York, until the close of the 1957 season, after which they moved west to California to become the San Francisco Giants. As the New York Giants, they won 14 pennants and 5 World Championships, from the era of John McGraw and Christy Mathewson to that of Bobby Thomson and Willie Mays. The Giants have won five pennants, the 2010 World Series, and the 2012 World Series since arriving in San Francisco.
Franchise history[edit source | editbeta]
Early days and the John McGraw era[edit source | editbeta]Main article: History of the New York Giants (NL)
The Giants began as the second baseball club founded by millionaire tobacconist John B. Day and veteran amateur baseball player Jim Mutrie. The Gothams, as the Giants were originally known, entered the National League in 1883, while their other club, theMetropolitans (the original Mets) played in the American Association. Nearly half of the original Gotham players were members of the disbanded Troy Trojans, whose place in the National League the Gothams inherited. 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, as well as a victory over the St. Louis Browns in an early incarnation of the World Series. They repeated as champions the next year with a pennant and World Series victory over the Brooklyn Bridegrooms.
It is said that after one particularly satisfying victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, 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. It was originally located north of Central Parkadjacent to Fifth and Sixth Avenues and 110th and 112th Streets, in Harlem in upper Manhattan. After their eviction from that first incarnation of the Polo Grounds after the 1888 season, they moved further uptown to various fields they also named the Polo Grounds located between 155th and 159th Streets in Harlem and Washington Heights, playing in the Washington Heights Polo Grounds until the end of the 1957 season, when they moved to San Francisco.
The Giants were a powerhouse in the late 1880s, winning their first two National League Pennants and World Championships in 1888 & 1889. But nearly all of the Giants’ stars jumped to the upstart Players’ League, whose New York franchise was also named the Giants, in 1890. The new team even built a stadium next door to the Polo Grounds. With a decimated roster, the NL Giants finished a distant sixth. Attendance took a nosedive, and the financial strain affected Day’s tobacco business as well. The Players’ League dissolved after the season, and Day sold a minority interest in his NL Giants to the defunct PL Giants’ principal backer, Edward Talcott. As a condition of the sale, Day had to fire Mutrie as manager. Although the Giants rebounded to third in 1891, Day was forced to sell a controlling interest to Talcott at the end of the season.
Four years later, Talcott sold the Giants to Andrew Freedman, a real estate developer with ties to theTammany Hall political machine running New York City. Freedman was one of the most detested owners in baseball history, getting into heated disputes with other owners, writers and his own players, most famously with star pitcher Amos Rusie, author of the first Giants no-hitter. When Freedman offered Rusie only $2,500 for 1896, the disgruntled hurler sat out the entire season. Attendance fell off throughout the league without Rusie, prompting the other owners to chip in $50,000 to get him to return for 1897. Freedman hired former owner Day as manager for part of 1899.
In 1902, after a series of disastrous moves that left the Giants 53½ games behind, Freedman signedJohn McGraw as player-manager, convincing him to jump in mid-season from the Baltimore Orioles of the fledgling American League and bring with him several of his teammates. McGraw went on to manage the Giants for three decades until 1932, one of the longest and most successful tenures in professional sports. Hiring “Mr. McGraw,” as his players referred to him, was one of Freedman’s last significant moves as owner of the Giants, since after the 1902 season he was forced to sell his interest in the club to John T. Brush. McGraw went on to manage the Giants to nine National League pennants (in 1904-05, 1911–13, 1917 & 1921-24) and three World Series championships (in 1905 & 1921-22), with a tenth pennant and fourth world championship as owner in 1933 under his handpicked player-manager successor, Bill Terry.
The Giants already had their share of stars in the 1880s & 1890s, such as “Smiling” Mickey Welch,Roger Connor, Tim Keefe, Jim O’Rourke and John Montgomery Ward, the player-lawyer who formed the renegade Players’ League in 1890 to protest unfair player contracts. McGraw, in his three decades managing the Giants, cultivated a new crop of baseball heroes with names like Christy Mathewson, “Iron Man” Joe McGinnity, Jim Thorpe, Red Ames, Casey Stengel, Art Nehf, Edd Roush, Rogers Hornsby, Bill Terry and Mel Ott.
The Giants under McGraw famously snubbed their first modern World Series chance in 1904, refusing the invitation to play the reigning world champion Boston Americans (now known as the “Red Sox”) because McGraw considered the new American League as little more than a minor league and disliked its president, Ban Johnson. He also resented his Giants’ new intra-city rival New York Highlanders, who almost won the pennant but lost to Boston on the last day, and stuck by his refusal to play whoever won the 1904 AL pennant. Of note, McGraw had managed the Highlanders in their first two seasons (1901–02), when they were known as the Baltimore Orioles.
The ensuing criticism resulted in Brush’s taking the lead to formalize the rules and format of the World Series. The Giants won the 1905 World Series over Connie Mack‘s Philadelphia Athletics, with Christy Mathewson nearly winning the series single-handedly with a still-standing record three complete-game shutouts and 27 consecutive scoreless innings in that one World Series, a feat unlikely ever to be duplicated.
The Giants then had several frustrating years. In 1908, they finished in a tie with the Chicago Cubs due to a late-season home tie game with the Cubs resulting from the Fred Merkle baserunning “boner”. They lost the postseason replay of the tie game (ordered by NL president Harry Pulliam) to the Cubs (after disgruntled Giants fans had set fire to the stands the morning of the game), who would go on to win their second (consecutive, and their last for at least the next 115 years) 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 the duel between Christy Mathewson and Mordecai “Three-Fingered” Brown 4-2, it faded over time.
The Giants experienced a mixture of success and hard luck in the early 1910s, losing three straight World Series in 1911-13 to the A’s, Red Sox and A’s again (two seasons later, both the Giants and the A’s, decimated by the short-lived Federal League signings of many of their stars, finished in eighth [last] place). After losing the 1917 Series to the Chicago White Sox (the last Chisox Series win until 2005), the Giants played in four straight World Series in the early 1920s, winning the first two over their Polo Grounds tenants, the Yankees (after winning the first two of their many pennants, led by young slugger Babe Ruth), then losing to the Yankees in 1923 afterYankee Stadium had opened that May. They also lost in 1924, when the Washington Senators won their only World Series in DC (prior to their move to Minnesota as the Twins before the 1961 season and their 1987 & 1991 Series wins there).
1930–57: Five pennants in 28 seasons[edit source | editbeta]
McGraw handed over the team to Bill Terry after the 1932 season, and Terry played for and managed the Giants for ten years, winning three pennants, defeating the Senators in the 1933 World Series but swept by the Yankees in consecutive fall classics, 1936 and 1937. Aside from Terry himself, the other stars of the era were slugger Mel Ott and southpaw hurler Carl Hubbell. Known as “King Carl” and “The Meal Ticket”, Hubbell gained fame in the first two innings of the 1934 All-Star Game (played at the Polo Grounds) by striking out five future AL Hall of Famers in a row: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin.
Ott succeeded Terry as manager in 1942, but the war years proved to be difficult for the Giants. Midway during the 1948 seasonBrooklyn Dodgers Leo Durocher left as Dodgers skipper to manage the Giants, not without controversy. Not only was such a midseason managerial switch unprecedented, but Durocher had been accused of gambling in 1947 and subsequently suspended for that whole season by Baseball Commissioner Albert “Happy” Chandler. Durocher’s ensuing eight full seasons managing the Giants proved some of the most memorable for their fans, particularly because of the arrival of five-tool superstar Willie Mays, their two pennants in 1951 & 1954, their unexpected sweep of the powerful (111-43) Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series and arguably the two most famous plays in Giants history.
1951: The “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”[edit source | editbeta]Main article: Shot Heard ‘Round the World (baseball)
The “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” or Bobby Thomson‘s come-from-behind ninth-inning walk-off home run that won the National League pennant for the Giants over their bitter rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers, in the deciding game of a three-game playoff series ending one of baseball’s most memorable pennant races. The Giants had been 13 1/2 games behind the league-leading Dodgers in August, but under Durocher’s guidance and with a 16-game winning streak, got hot and caught the Dodgers to tie for the lead on the next-to-last day of the season.
Mays’ catch and the 1954 Series[edit source | editbeta]Main article: The Catch (baseball)
In Game 1 of the 1954 World Series at the Polo Grounds against the Cleveland Indians, Willie Mays made “The Catch,” a dramatic over-the-shoulder catch of a fly ball by Vic Wertz after sprinting with his back to the plate on a dead run to deepest center field. At the time the game was tied 2–2 in the eighth inning, with men on first and second and nobody out. Mays caught the ball 450 ft (140 m) from the plate, whirled and threw the ball to the infield, keeping the lead runner, Larry Doby, from scoring. Although Doby took third after the catch, he was stranded there and the Giants won on Dusty Rhodes‘ tenth-inning pinch-hit walk-off home run with two aboard, 5-2.
The underdog Giants went on to sweep the series in four straight, despite the Indians’ American League 111-43 regular season. The1954 World Series title would be their last appearance in the World Series as the New York Giants, with the team moving to San Francisco to start the 1958 season.
New York Giants of the 1950s[edit source | editbeta]
In addition to Bobby Thomson and Willie Mays, other memorable New York Giants of the 1950s include Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher, coach Herman Franks, Hall of Fame outfielder Monte Irvin, outfielder and runner-up for the 1954 NL batting championship (won by Willie Mays) Don Mueller, Hall of Fame knuckleball relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, starting pitchers Larry Jansen, Sal Maglie, Jim Hearn, Marv Grissom, Dave Koslo, Don Liddle, Max Lanier, Rubén Gómez and Johnny Antonelli, catcher Wes Westrum, catchers Ray Katt and Sal Yvars, shortstop Alvin Dark, third baseman Hank Thompson, first baseman Whitey Lockman, second basemen Davey Williams and Eddie Stanky, outfielder-pitcher Clint Hartung and utility men Bill Rigney, Daryl Spencer, Bobby Hofman and 1954 Series hero Dusty Rhodes, among others. In the late 1950s and after the move to San Francisco two Hall of Fame first basemen, Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey, joined the team.
1957: Move to California[edit source | editbeta]
The Giants’ final three years in New York City were unmemorable. They stumbled to third place the year after their World Series win, and attendance fell off precipitously. While seeking a new stadium to replace the crumbling Polo Grounds, the Giants began to contemplate a move from New York, initially considering Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, which was home to their top farm team, the Minneapolis Millers. Under the rules of the time, the Giants’ ownership of the Millers gave them priority rights to a major league team in the area. (But the Washington Senators wound up there as the Minnesota Twins in 1961.)
At this time, the Giants were approached by San Francisco mayor George Christopher. Despite objections from shareholders such asJoan Whitney Payson, majority owner Horace Stoneham entered into negotiations with San Francisco officials around the same time the Dodgers’ owner Walter O’Malley was courting the city of Los Angeles. O’Malley had been told that the Dodgers would not be allowed to move to Los Angeles unless a second team moved to California as well. He pushed Stoneham toward relocation, and so in the summer of 1957 both the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers announced their moves to California, ending the three-team golden age of baseball in New York City.
New York would remain a one-team town with the New York Yankees until 1962, when Joan Payson founded the New York Mets and brought National League baseball back to the city. Owners Payson and M. Donald Grant, who became the Mets’ chairman, had been the only Giants board members to vote against the Giants’ move to California. The “NY” script on the Giants’ caps and the orange trim on their uniforms, along with the blue background used by the Dodgers, would be adopted by the Mets, honoring their New York NL forebears with a blend of Giants orange and Dodgers blue.
1958-Present: History as the San Francisco Giants[edit source | editbeta]
The following text needs to be harmonized with text in History of the San Francisco Giants.Main article: History of the San Francisco Giants
As with 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 the team away from San Francisco.
1958–61: Seals Stadium and Candlestick Park[edit source | editbeta]
When the Giants moved to San Francisco, they played in Seals Stadium for their first two seasons. The stadium, which was located at 16th & Bryant Streets across from Stempel’s Bakery, had been the home of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) San Francisco Seals, in their last years the AAA minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, from 1931 to 1957. In 1958, Latino hitter Orlando Cepeda wonRookie of the Year honors. In 1959, Willie McCovey won the same award.
In 1960, the Giants moved to Candlestick Park (sometimes known simply as “The ‘Stick”), a stadium built on Candlestick Point in San Francisco’s southeast corner overlooking San Francisco Bay. The new stadium quickly became known for its strong, swirling winds, cold temperatures and thick evening fog that made for a formidable experience for brave fans and players. Its built-in radiant heating system which worked. Candlestick’s reputation was sealed in the ninth inning of the first 1961 All-Star Game when, after a day of calm conditions, the winds came back and a strong gust appeared to cause Giants relief pitcher Stu Miller to slip off the pitching rubberduring his delivery, resulting in a balk (and a baseball legend that Miller was “blown off the mound”), although the National League won anyway. (Two All-Star Games per season were played from 1959 to 1962.)
Candlestick Park was frequently beshrouded in fog, both inside and out, coming in from the Pacific Ocean seven miles to the west (through what is known as the “Alemany Gap”, a wide gorge ocean winds come through in lieu of major topographical obstacles). A foghorn was eventually situated and sounded inside the stadium between innings, adding to Candlestick’s already notorious meteorological reputation. Winds would whirl around in the parking lot at other times while it would be calm inside the stadium. Even with its cold, windy and foggy reputation, it stood its ground when the ground below it shook violently just before the scheduled start of Game 3 of the 1989 World Series. At 5:04 p.m., the Loma Prieta Earthquake shook the San Francisco Bay Area during the pregame ceremonies. For 15 seconds the stadium rocked, and it was feared that one or more of the huge overhead light towers might fall on spectators in the stands; but only minor injuries were reported and the stadium’s structure was deemed safe ten days later.
1962 World Series[edit source | editbeta]Main article: 1962 World Series
In 1962, after another memorable pennant chase with the Dodgers which resulted in a second three-game playoff series with the Dodgers (after 1951) which the Giants again won by coming from behind with three runs in the ninth inning of Game 3, the Giants brought a World Series to San Francisco only to lose it four games to three to the New York Yankees. The seventh game went to the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Yankees ahead 1–0. With Matty Alou on first base and two outs, Willie Mays sliced a double down the right field line. Right fielder Roger Maris quickly got to the ball and rifled a throw to the infield, preventing Alou from scoring the tying run and keeping him at third base.
With the speedy Mays on second, any base hit by the next batter, Willie McCovey, would likely win the series for the Giants. McCovey hit a screaming line drive right at second baseman Bobby Richardson, who snared it after a step or two, bringing the Series to a sudden end. Earlier in the inning, a failed sacrifice bunt by Felipe Alou with nobody out had ultimately kept his brother Matty, who couldn’t advance to second, from scoring on Mays’ two-out double. Finally, Richardson was not originally positioned to catch the drive until he moved three steps to his left in reaction to a McCovey’s foul smash on the preceding pitch.
Giants fan (and resident of nearby Santa Rosa) Charles Schulz made a reference to the real world in one of his Peanuts comic strips soon afterward. In the first three panels of his 12/22/62 strip, Charlie Brown and Linus are sitting on a porch step, looking glum. In the last panel, Charlie Brown cried to the heavens, “Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?” Some weeks later, the same scene reappeared in the strip with Charlie Brown exclaiming, “Or why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just TWO feet higher?”
1963–84: Always a bridesmaid, never the bride[edit source | editbeta]
Although the Giants did not play in another World Series until 1989, the teams of the 1960s continued to be pennant contenders thanks to several future Hall-of-Famers. These includedGaylord Perry, who pitched a no-hitter with the Giants in 1968; Juan Marichal, a pitcher with a memorable high-kicking delivery; McCovey, who won the National League MVP award in 1969, and Mays, who hit his 600th career home run in 1969. A Giants highlight came in 1963 when Jesús Alou joined the team, and along with Felipe and Matty, for one late inning of one game, formed the first all-brother outfield in major league history. In 1967, pitcher Mike McCormick became the first Giants Cy Young Award winner.
The Giants’ next appearance in the postseason came in 1971. After winning their division, they were easily defeated in the League Championship Series by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Roberto Clemente, who then went on to beat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series four games to three.
During this decade, the Giants gave up many players who became successful elsewhere, includingGarry Maddox, George Foster, Dave Kingman and Gaylord Perry. Two Giants became Rookies of the Year, outfielder (Gary Matthews Sr. in 1973 and no-hit pitcher John Montefusco in 1975).
In 1976 Bob Lurie bought the team, saving it from being moved to Toronto. Toronto was awarded an expansion team called the Blue Jays, but San Francisco baseball fans’ worries about losing their beloved Giants had not completely gone away just yet. The rest of the 1970s was a generally disappointing time for the Giants, as they finished no higher than third place in any season. This was in 1978, thanks to young star slugger Jack Clark, veteran slugging first baseman Willie McCovey, star hitter second baseman Bill Madlock(acquired from the Chicago Cubs), shortstops Johnnie LeMaster and Roger Metzger, and slugging third baseman Darrell Evans. Veteran pitchers Vida Blue, John Montefusco, Ed Halicki and Bob Knepper rounded out the starting rotation with Vida Blue leading the way with eighteen victories. The most memorable moment of that 1978 season occurred on May 28, 1978, when pinch hitter Mike Ivie, acquired from the San Diego Padres during the offseason for Derrel Thomas, hit a towering grand slam off of Dodgers pitching ace Don Suttonbefore Candlestick Park’s highest paid attendance of 58,545. They led the NL West for most of the season until slugger Dusty Baker, rookie pitcher Bob Welch and the rest of the Dodgers got hot late, winning the West and (over the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS) the NL pennant.
The field at Candlestick was converted back to natural grass for the 1979 season.
In 1981, the Giants became the first National League team to hire a black manager, Frank Robinson, although he lasted less than four years and was generally unsuccessful. The Giants finished a game over .500 in the strike-shortened 1981 season. The next season, the Giants acquired veterans Joe Morgan and Reggie Smith. They They got hot late and ended up in a three-team pennant race with the Dodgers and Braves. The day after the Dodgers eliminated them, Morgan hit a homer against the Dodgers on the last day of the season, giving the NL West to Atlanta.
In 1984, the Giants hosted the All-Star Game for the second and last time at Candlestick Park, which the NL won as it did at Candlestick in 1961 when Stu Miller was blown off the mound by a gust of wind.
1985–89: Nadir and resurrection[edit source | editbeta]
The 1985 Giants lost 100 games (the most in franchise history) under unsuccessful rookie manager Jim Davenport, and owner Bob Lurie responded by hiring Al Rosen as general manager and Roger Craig as field manager. Rosen began in 1986 by bringing up promising rookies such as Will Clark and Robby Thompson (inspiring the promotional radio jingle “Ya gotta watch these Giants! You gotta like these kids!!”), and followed up in 1987 with canny trades for stars like Kevin Mitchell, Dave Dravecky, Candy Maldonado, andRick Reuschel.
Craig, renowned as the “Hum Baby” because he often said it, managed the Giants from late 1985 to 1992. In his first five full seasons with the Giants, the team had winning records. The Giants won 83 games in 1986 and won the National League Western Division title in 1987, losing the 1987 National League Championship Series to the injury-ridden, overachieving St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. The one bright spot in that defeat was their slugging outfielder Jeffrey Leonard, who was named the series MVP in a losing effort. In Leonard’s own faltering words, the prize money ($50,000) meant nothing to him, but only the win that eluded him and his team. He would have given anything to be going up north to play the Minnesota Twins, and his former teammate outfielder Dan Gladden, traded to the Twins at the start of the season, in the 1987 World Series, who beat the Cardinals in seven games.
1989: Will the “Thrill”, World Series and the earthquake[edit source | editbeta]Main article: 1989 San Francisco Giants season
Although the team used fifteen different starting pitchers in the regular season, the 1989 Giants won the National League pennant. They were led by pitchers Rick Reuschel (1989 National League All-Star Game Starter), closer Scott Garrelts (the 1989 National League ERA champion) and sluggers Kevin Mitchell (the 1989 National League MVP with his 47 home runs, many of them clutch) and Will Clark.
The Giants beat the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series, four games to one. In Game 5, eventual 1989 NLCS MVP Will Clark (who hit .650 and drove in eight runs, including a grand slam off Greg Maddux in the fourth inning of Game 1 after reading Maddux’s lips talking to his catcher on the mound beforehand) came through in the clutch with a bases-loaded, two-out single off hard-throwing lefty closer Mitch Williams to break a 1–1 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs in the top of the 9th inning, Giants closer Steve Bedrosian gave up three straight singles and a run before getting the dangerous Ryne Sandberg on a harmless first-pitch groundout straight to Robby Thompson at second, who threw easily to series hero Will Clark at first for the final out, stranding the tying run at third, as longtime Giants radio voice Hank Greenwald proclaimed, “27 years of waiting have come to an end the Giants have won the pennant!”
After dispatching the Cubs four games to one, the Giants faced the Oakland Athletics in the unforgettable “Bay Bridge Series,” best remembered by the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake which struck at 5:04 p.m. just before the scheduled Game 3 at Candlestick Park. After a ten-day delay, Oakland finished its sweep of the Giants, winning Games 3 & 4 at San Francisco. The Giants never led in any of the games, and never even managed to send the tying run to the plate against A’s closer Dennis Eckersley in their last at-bat of Game 4.
The Giants and A’s had played three World Series before in the distant past when John McGraw’s Giants were in New York and Connie Mack’s A’s were in Philly, the Giants winning in 1905 on Christy Mathewson‘s record three complete-game shutouts and the A’s in 1911 & 1913 behind Home Run Baker and Eddie Collins.
1992: Farewell San Francisco?[edit source | editbeta]
In the wake of that disappointing 1989 World Series sweep, 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 toToronto in 1976, put the team up for sale. A group of investors from St. Petersburg led byVince Naimoli reached an agreement to purchase the team and move them to the Tampa Bay area, but the National League owners voted against the acquisition. Wally Haas, the owner of the Oakland Athletics at the time, agreed to grant the Giants exclusive rights to the South Bay so the Giants could explore all potential local sites for a new stadium and at least help to keep the team in the Bay Area. The team was instead sold to an ownership group including managing general partner Peter Magowan, former CEO of supermarket chainSafeway, Harmon Burns, and his wife Sue.
In addition to the anticipated move to downtown San Francisco, the Giants’ ownership also made a major personnel move to solidify fan support. Before even hiring a new general manager or officially being approved as the new managing general partner, Magowan signed superstar slugger free agent Barry Bondsaway from the Pittsburgh Pirates, (a move which MLB initially blocked until some terms were negotiated to protect Lurie and Bonds in case the sale failed).
1993: “The last pure pennant race”[edit source | editbeta]
The Barry Bonds era began auspiciously as Bonds put up the numbers for the third MVP of his career: 46 homers, 129 runs and 123 RBI, (.336 BA, .458 OBP, .677 SLG, for a total of 1.135 OPS), all career highs. Matt Williams excelled as well (38 HR, 110 RBI, .294 BA), with veterans Robby Thompson and Will Clark (in his last season with the Giants) providing offensive support. John Burkett and Bill Swift won more than twenty games apiece, and closer Rod Beck was dominant with 48 saves and a 2.16 ERA. All this led the Giants to a 103–59 record in Dusty Baker‘s first year as manager, which earned him the Manager of the Year award. But despite theGiants’ great record, the Atlanta Braves — fueled by solid seasons from David Justice, Ron Gant, Deion Sanders and their key midseason acquisition of Fred McGriff from the San Diego Padres — came back from a ten-game deficit to pass the Giants win the NL West by a single game. The Braves also had two 20+-game winners, Tom Glavine and Cy Young Award-winning Greg Maddux.
Desperately needing a win against the Dodgers in the final game of the year to force a one-game playoff with the Braves in San Francisco, the controversial choice of rookie pitcher Salomón Torres proved disastrous for the Giants as he gave up three runs in the first four innings of a 12–1 rout. (The alternative choice, Scott Sanderson, the only other rested Giants starter, was decided against because he was considered a fly-ball pitcher and the Dodgers a fly-ball-hitting team.) After MLB’s establishment of the three-division playoff format with a fourth wild card entry after the 1993 season, New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson captured the feeling of many baseball purists regarding the thrilling (and for Giants fans, heartbreaking) winner-take-all outcome of the last two-division National League West when he characterized the 1993 National League regular season as “the last pure pennant race.”
1994–96 seasons[edit source | editbeta]
The 1994 to 1996 seasons were not good for the Giants, punctuated by the strike that canceled the rest of the 1994 baseball season and the World Series. The strike denied Matt Williams a chance to beat Roger Maris‘s single season home run record: He had 43 HR in 115 team games, and was thus on pace for 60 when the strike hit with 47 games left to play (Bonds had 37, on pace for 52). But the rest of the team wasn’t as good as their two sluggers, with no other player having even 10 home runs or even 40 RBI that late into the season although they were still in contention, not far from the division lead, when the strike ended play in mid-August. (When Commissioner Bud Selig refused to budge in negotiations with the owners, a radio sports talk-show host quipped, “Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo couldn’t cancel the World Series [in World War II], but Selig did!”)
The Giants finished a dismal last in both 1995 & 1996, crippled by key injuries and slumps. 1995 had a strange feeling about it, with fans unsure if they would come back after the strike-shortened 1994 season (something that would keep attendances notably lower for a few more years, probably until the McGwire-Sosa record-breaking HR chase of 1998). Bonds continued as the Giants’ driving force, posting fantastic numbers, with the highest WAR among position players in the National League (33 HR, 104 RBI, 109 R and 120 BB in 144 games). Matt Williams and Glenallen Hill (affectionately called “G. Hill” by manager Baker) were the only other Giants with 20+ HR, and the rest of the team had mediocre offensive numbers. The pitching staff was poor, with Mark Leiter leading the way with ten measly wins (10–12, 3.82 ERA). Closer Rod Beck had 33 saves but nine blown saves and a 4.45 ERA.
1996 was highlighted by Bonds’ joining the 40–40 club as only the second member (after the A’s José Canseco in 1988), with 42 HR & 40 SB along with 129 RBI, 151 BB & a .308 BA). Rookie Bill Mueller also provided hope for the future of the club with a .330 average (66 hits in 200 AB over 55 games). Matt Williams and “G. Hill” provided offensive support. The pitching, was scarcely better than in 1995. Only Mark Gardner had more than 10 wins (12–7, 4.42 ERA), and Rod Beck had 35 saves and a 3.34 ERA but nine losses and the rest of the bullpen was woeful. The low point came in late June when the Giants, after surging to .500 for a brief moment, lost 10 straight games en route to a 68–94 record, starting with a game in Atlanta they first tied with several runs in the ninth but then lost in extra innings. Their long-time radio voice, Hank Greenwald, retired after the season.
1997–99: Rebuilding[edit source | editbeta]
1997[edit source | editbeta]Main article: 1997 San Francisco Giants season
After three consecutive losing seasons, the Giants named Brian Sabean as their new general manager for 1997, replacing Bob Quinn. (Sabean may have been acting as GM even before the announcement, rumored as he was to have engineered the deal to get southpaw starter Kirk Rueter from the Montreal Expos.) His tenure began with great controversy. In his first official trade as GM, he shocked Giants fans by trading Matt Williams to Cleveland for what newspapers referred to as a ‘bunch of spare parts’, with a negative reaction great enough for him to explain publicly, “I didn’t get to this point by being an idiot… I’m sitting here telling you there is a plan.”
Sabean was proven right: The Indians acquired for Williams — slugging second baseman Jeff Kent, shortstop José Vizcaíno and bullpen setup man Julián Tavárez, along with Joe Roa and the $1 million in cash that enabled them to sign center fielder and leadoff hitter Darryl Hamilton) — and a subsequent trade with Anaheim for clutch-hitting, slick-fielding first baseman J. T. Snow – turned out to be major contributors, leading the Giants to their first NL West Division title of the decade in 1997. Snow, Kent and Bonds each had over 100 RBI, and pitcher Shawn Estes’ 19 wins (against only 5 losses) led the team. Rod Beck had his usual fine season with 37 saves.
1997 also saw the introduction of interleague play to major league baseball, with the division-winning Giants going 10-6 against the four American League West teams: Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Anaheim Angels and Oakland A’s. On June 12 the Giants beat the Rangers 4-3 in the first regular season interleague game. But the wild-card Florida Marlins ended the Giants’ season with a 3–0 sweep in the first round of the playoffs (the first two being one-run walkoff wins in Florida) on their way to the first Marlin worldchampionship in only their fifth year.
1998[edit source | editbeta]Main article: 1998 San Francisco Giants season
In 1998, the Giants were fueled by good seasons from sluggers Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds, both with 30+ HR and 100+ RBI, and from starters Kirk Rueter (16–9 W-L record, 4.36 ERA), Mark Gardner (13–6, 4.33) and newly acquired Orel Hershiser (11–10, 4.41). New closer Robb Nen had 40 saves. A hot September stretch tied them for the NL wild card, but they lost a one-game playoff at Chicago’sWrigley Field.
1999: Final season at Candlestick Park[edit source | editbeta]Main article: 1999 San Francisco Giants season
1999 saw the Giants finish second in the NL West with an 86–76 record. Barry Bonds’s production dropped as he hit .262, his lowest average in a decade. He did, however, hit 34 home runs even though missing more than a third of the season due to injury, and other team regulars put up very good supporting numbers including Snow, Kent, shortstop Rich Aurilia and outfielder Ellis Burks, all with 20+ HR and 80+ RBI. Marvin Benard also had a career year in center field with 16 home runs, 64 RBIs and a career- and team-high 27 stolen bases. The pitching staff was paced by Russ Ortiz (18–9, 3.81) and Kirk Rueter (15–10, 5.41).
With the knowledge that their days in Candlestick Park were numbered, the 1999 season ended with a series of promotions and tributes. After the final game of the season, a loss to the Dodgers, home plate was ceremoniously removed and taken by CHPhelicopter to the new grounds where the downtown stadium was being built.
2000–present: AT&T Park[edit source | editbeta]
In 2000, after forty years, the Giants bade farewell to Candlestick Park and, as long advocated, moved into a privately financed downtown stadium (AT&T Park, originally Pacific or “Pac” Bell Park and later renamed SBC Park) on that part of the shoreline of China Basin known to Giants fans as McCovey Cove, at the corner of 3rd and King Streets (with an official address of 24 Willie Mays Plaza in honor of the longtime Giants superstar), ushering in a new era for the Giants and their fans. While Candlestick resembled the multi-purpose concrete-dominated “cookie-cutter” parks built by so many teams during the 1960s & 1970s, their new home is regarded as one of the most beautiful venues in all of professional sports. Even so, as part of the intense rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers, some Dodgers fans derisively and jealously refer to AT&T Park as “The Phone Booth” from its current and former names (Pac Bell Park, SBC Park), as could be expected.
The Giants routinely sell out their new nearly 43,000-seat state-of-the-art stadium built for the 21st century, whereas paltry paid attendances of less than 10,000 were not uncommon in Candlestick despite its nearly 60,000 seating capacity, although by the 1999 season the Giants did manage to draw about 25,000 fans per game. The team in its striking new location annually vies for highest MLB season attendance in contrast to often having lowest attendance in the NL (or close to it) before. Still quite breezy in summer compared to other MLB parks, AT&T Park has been a consensus success despite its reputation as a “pitcher’s park” stingy for power hitters. Its state-of-the-art design minimizes wind-chill, it is well served by mass transit and has spectacular views of the bay and the city skyline, traits all lacking at Candlestick especially after it was redesigned in the early 1970s to accommodate the NFL 49ers. AT&T Park is the centerpiece of a renaissance in San Francisco’s South Beachand Mission Bay neighborhoods, known for what has been called sustainable design.
Despite inaugural game festivities at the new ballpark, the Dodgers spoiled the 2000 season opener with an unexpected three-HR outburst by little-known, light-hitting shortstop Kevin Elster. But the Giants rebounded after losing their first six games in their new home with a solid effort all season long, culminating with not only the NL West Division title but the best record in the major leagues. Kent paced the attack with clutch hits (33 HR, 125 RBI) en route to being elected MVP over runner-up Bonds with 49 HR & 106 RBI. The pitching staff was not great but certainly decent, five starters earning at least ten wins: Liván Hernández (17–11, 3.75), Russ Ortíz (14–12, 5.01), Kirk Rueter (11–9, 3.96), Shawn Estes (15–6, 4.26) and Mark Gardner (11–7, 4.05). Closer Robb Nen was nearly perfect, with 41 saves and a minute 1.50 ERA.
The Giants lost the 2000 division series to the New York Mets three games to one after a solid win in Game 1 on the postseason clutch pitching of Liván Hernández. But the Mets won the next three games despite decent starts by Estes, Ortíz and Mark Gardner. Game 2 in particular ended tumultuously but disappointingly. Down 4–1 in the ninth, Snow smacked a three-run home run to tie the game; but the Mets won in the tenth with a run off Félix Rodríguez, Bonds making the last out with two men on on a controversial called third strike.
In 2001, the Giants were eliminated from playoff contention on the next-to-last day of the season. Slugging shortstop Rich Aurilia put up stellar numbers (37 HR, 97 RBI, .324 BA) in support of Bonds, who once again gave fans something to cheer about with his single-season record 73 home runs, surpassing Mark McGwire‘s 70 in 1998. The pitching staff was good but not great, with Russ Ortíz (17–9, 3.29) leading a staff that also had Liván Hernández (13–15, 5.24) and Kirk Rueter (14–12, 4.42). Shawn Estes and Mark Gardner had subpar years, but a notable late-season acquisition from the Pirates was superstar starter Jason Schmidt (7–1, 3.39). Robb Nen continued as a dominant closer (45 saves, 3.01 ERA).
2002: National League Championship Season and World Series[edit source | editbeta]Main articles: 2002 National League Division Series, 2002 National League Championship Series, and 2002 World Series
In 2002, the Giants finished second in the NL West behind the Arizona Diamondbacks, bolstered by another MVP season for Bonds (46 HR, 110 RBI, .370 BA, a then-record 198 walks and a .582 OBP) and Kent (37 HR, 108 RBI and .313 BA). Additional roster support was provided by decent seasons from veteran catcher Beníto Santiágo and Aurilia, aided by new acquisitions third basemanDavid Bell, slugging outfielder Reggie Sanders and fleet-footed outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo, (generally known by last name only), who spent only one season with the Giants before returning to Japan. The pitching staff again proved solid, with five starters winning 12 or more including Jason Schmidt in his first full season in San Francisco. Closer Robb Nen had 43 saves and a 2.20 ERA, and setup menFelix Rodríguez and Tim Worrell were solid out of the bullpen.
The Giants made the playoffs as the NL wild card in the last weekend of the season. They began by defeating the Atlanta Braves in theNLDS three games to two, with Ortíz winning Games 1 and 5 in Atlanta and Snow ending the deciding game with a spectacular double play ending in a rundown between first and second.
In the NLCS, they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals four games to one with wins by Rueter, Schmidt and two by Worrell in relief.Santiago, particularly for his late clutch game-turning and -winning home run in Game 4, was elected MVP of the NLCS.
The Giants then faced the American League champion Anaheim Angels (now known as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) in theWorld Series, marking the first World Series between two wild-card teams. The Giants split the first two (one-run) games in Anaheim, were beaten soundly by the visiting Angels in Game 3, then took Games 4 & 5 in Pac Bell Park for a three-games-to-two lead as the Series shifted back to Anaheim. With the Giants leading 5–0 with one out in the bottom of the 7th of Game 6, manager Dusty Bakerremoved starter Russ Ortíz after he gave up two straight singles and handed him what Giants fans hoped would be the “game” ball as he walked off the mound. Moments later, after fouling off numerous fastballs, the Angels’ Scott Spiezio hit a three-run home run off reliever Felix Rodriguez. The Giants’ closer Robb Nen, pitching “on fumes and guts” with an injured right shoulder, gave up an eighth-inning two-run double to Series MVP Troy Glaus and the Angels went on to win the game 6–5 and capture the momentum in the Series. The following night, Anaheim cruised to a 4–1 victory behind an early 3-run double by Garret Anderson off Hernández to claim the Series.
After 2002, the Giants went through many personnel changes. Baker’s managerial contract was not renewed after ten seasons. Closer Nenn’s damaged shoulder ended his career, forcing him into early retirement; and Kent, moving on to the Houston Astros in his native Texas, was not re-signed. He had aroused front-office ire earlier in the season with an off-field injury when he fell off the roof of his vehicle while shining it, and by getting into a public scrap with Bonds in the dugout in the middle of a game. Position players David Bell,Reggie Sanders, Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Kenny Lofton, as well as pitchers Liván Hernández, Russ Ortíz and southpaw reliever Aaron Fultz(winner of 2002 World Series Game 4), all went to other teams in 2003 as well.
2003: Wire to wire[edit source | editbeta]
That season the Giants, under new manager Felipe Alou, won 100 games for the seventh time in franchise history and the third time in San Francisco, winning their division for the third time in seven seasons and spending every day of the season in first place, the ninth team to accomplish that feat in baseball history. Their offense was paced by yet another MVP season from Bonds (45 HR, 90 RBI, .341 BA, 148 BB and an OBP of .529). Decent offensive support was provided by Rich Aurilia, Marquis Grissom, José Cruz Jr., Edgardo Alfonzo, Benito Santiago, Pedro Felíz and Andrés Galarrága. The pitching staff was led by Jason Schmidt (17–5, 2.34 ERA) and Kirk Rueter (10–5, 4.53), but dropped off after that, no other starter earning ten wins.
Once again in the playoffs, and just like in 1997, the Giants faced the eventual-world-champion Florida Marlins in the NLDS. Schmidt won Game 1 in San Francisco with a low-scoring complete game outdueling Josh Beckett; but the Marlins won the next three games, and the series three games to one, as the Giants bullpen faltered after Game 2 starter Sidney Ponson imploded, blowing a big early Giants lead. As usually reliable outfielder Fred Snodgrass blew the deciding game of the 1912 World Series on the road with the Giants one run ahead going into the last of the tenth with a notorious “muff” of a fly ball by the leadoff hitter ending with the home team Boston Red Sox scoring two runs for a come-from-behind walkoff win, exactly the same scenario happened in the last of the tenth in Florida in Game 3 of the 2003 NLDS with a muff of another easy leadoff fly ball by otherwise slick-fielding José Cruz Jr, ending with Ivan Rodríguez‘s two-out, two-run, come-from-behind bases-loaded walkoff win for the Marlins off closer Tim Worrell.
2004–06: Playoff drought[edit source | editbeta]
In 2004, Bonds broke his own records with 232 walks and a .609 OBP en route to his 7th and last NL MVP award (45 HR, 101 RBI, .362 BA). The team also had a solid but not stellar supporting cast including Marquís Grissom (22, 90, .279) and Pedro Felíz (22, 84, .276), along with decent hitting by Ray Durham, Edgárdo Alfónzo, Michael Tucker and AJ Pierzynski. Jason Schmidt was the star of the staff (18–7, 3.20 ERA, 251 SO), but the team was constantly looking for a new closer (Matt Herges and Dustin Hermanson sharing the role during the season). After sitting out most of the first half of the season with an injury, Snow led the league in hitting after the All-Star Break.
The Giants’ 2005 season was the least successful of the decade in their new stadium. Bonds missed almost the entire season with a knee injury, erratic closer Armando Benítez was injured for four months, and ace Jason Schmidt struggled after numerous injuries. But management took advantage of the off-year to give playing time to numerous young players, including pitchers Noah Lowry, Brad Hennessey, Kevin Correia, Scott Munter, Matt Cain and Jeremy Accardo, as well as first baseman Lance Niekro and outfielders Jason Ellison and Todd Linden. The acquisition of veteran outfield contact hitter Randy Winn from the Seattle Mariners was invaluable in the stretch run.
On September 28, the Giants were officially eliminated from the NL West race after losing to the division champion San Diego Padres, finishing a distant third at 75–87, their worst, and first losing, season since 1996. Despite the disappointing finish, the Giants extended manager Felípe Alou‘s contract for another year.
The Giants were expected to contend in 2006 with a strong starting staff. Despite a losing streak in May, and the worst batting performance by Barry Bonds in about fifteen years the Giants did contend in the less-than-stellar Western Division and by July 23 were in first place. On that day, however, during the last game of a homestand and leading San Diego going into the ninth inning, closerArmándo Benítez blew a save with a tying home run and the Giants lost in extra innings. That was the first loss of a horrendous three-week stretch that saw San Francisco go 3–16, losing nine games by one run.
On October 2, 2006, the day after the end of the regular season, the Giants announced that they would not renew manager Felípe Alou‘s contract but still offer him the opportunity to stay with them in an advisory role to the general manager and to baseball operations.
2007–2009: Losing ways and milestones[edit source | editbeta]
2007: End of the Bonds era[edit source | editbeta]Main article: 2007 San Francisco Giants season
With eleven free agents (excluding Jason Schmidt) who signed with the Dodgers for roughly $15 million a year, a new manager on board (Bruce Bochy, division rival San Diego manager since the mid-1990s who left the Padres to manage the Giants), and the loss of veteran catcher Mike Matheny due to complications (cumulative trauma) resulting from concussions sustained during his career, the Giants’ prospects for the 2007 season were less than favorable as 2006 came to an end. They then made several deals, re-signing infieldersPedro Feliz, Ray Durham and longtime fan favorite Rich Aurilia, and picking up catcher Bengie Molina, slugger Ryan Klesko and outfielder Dave Roberts. They also signed free-agent pitcher Barry Zito to a lucrative seven-year contract worth $126 million with an $18 million option for an eighth year, the richest pitcher’s contract in baseball history at the time. On January 9, 2007, they re-signed pitcherRuss Ortíz to compete for the fifth starting position in spring training, which he won by late March due to his outstanding spring.
They got off to a slow start in the regular season, with spurts of promise but more often stretches of mediocre play at best. Pitching was often inconsistent or the offense nonexistent (such as in a pair of 1–0 losses for young star starter Matt Cain, for whom lack of run support was a frequent problem).
The season was memorable in some regards, such as the Giants – Red Sox series in Fenway Park, their first appearance there since they lost the deciding game of the 1912 World Series with two errors in the last of the tenth after scoring a go-ahead run in the top of the tenth, and their hosting of the 2007 MLB All-Star Game. Much more notable, however, was Bonds’ march toward Hank Aaron‘s 755 career home run record that brought heavy media attention to the San Francisco Giants.
Leading off in the top of the second before a sellout crowd at PETCO Park in San Diego in Game 2 of that series, Bonds hit a high fastball off the facing of the upper deck in left field for an off-field jack, tying the score at 1-1 and Aaron at 755, although they lost 3-2 in extra innings. In the bottom of the fifth at home against the Washington Nationals on the night of August 7, he smashed number 756 into the deep center field bleachers, causing a melee in the crowd scrambling for the ball, which would later earn the young man who came up with it six figures at auction. Aaron, appearing on the big screen, congratulated him personally, but the luckless Giants went on to lose the game 8-6.
On August 9, 2007, left-handed pinch-hitter deluxe Mark Sweeney was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for AA second basemanTravis Denker, marking the first trade between the Giants and the Dodgers since 1985.
The 2007 season continued discouraging for the Giants, with solid pitching but often without run support. Rookie starter Tim Lincecum, for instance, held the Chicago Cubs to two hits through eight innings on August 21, but the team scored only one run in a 5-1 loss.
On September 22, 2007, the Giants officially announced they would not re-sign Barry Bonds for the 2008 season. After much speculation and debate, owner Peter Magowan announced Bonds’ departure at a press conference, stressing the need for youth and offense throughout the lineup.
Bonds played the last game of his brilliant career on September 26, 2007. He went 0 for 3, driving a ball that was caught at the warning track in left-center field in his final at-bat and then leaving on his own although he had another at-bat coming had he stayed in the game.
2008: Without Bonds and golden anniversary[edit source | editbeta]Main article: 2008 San Francisco Giants season
2008, the 51st season for the Giants in San Francisco, was their first without Barry Bonds since 1992. Their first big move was to sign gutsy Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Aaron Rowand to a 5-year, $60 million contract. Barry Zito, in his second year as a Giant, once again got off to a poor start, losing his first eight decisions; but the team found hope with Tim Lincecum in his second full season. After going 7–5 as a rookie in 2007, he exploded as a sophomore starter, winning four straight before his first loss on April 29, 2008, to theColorado Rockies. Lincecum was selected to the 2008 MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, but was hospitalized with flulike symptoms and couldn’t pitch in the midsummer classic. He soon recovered, however, and even went on to win the 2008 NL Cy Young Award, finishing at 18–5 and becoming the first Giant to win that prestigious trophy sinceMike McCormick won it in 1967. The Giants finished the season in fourth place in the NL West with a record of 72–90.
2009: A mix of old & new and a no-hitter[edit source | editbeta]
During the 2008-09 off-season, the Giants strengthened their pitching staff with veteran starting pitcher Randy Johnson and relievers Bob Howry and Jeremy Affeldt. They also signed infielders Edgar Rentería and Juan Uribe. Despite lingering questions about their struggling offense, they were a surprising 49–39 by the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, good enough for second place in the NL West.
In addition to the Giants’ overall performance as a team, the first half of 2009 was memorable for several individuals: Johnson became the 24th major league pitcher to win 300 games, and phenomally gifted but perpetually struggling young southpaw starter Jonathan Sánchez tossed a nearly perfect no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on July 10 (the only Padre baserunner reached on Juan Uribe’s late infield error, following the distant footsteps of Giants immortal Christy Mathewson, whose 1905 no-no was blemished by only two errors), the first Giants no-hitter since 1976. Incredibly, Sánchez accomplished his feat spot-starting in place of injured Randy Johnsonand returning to the rotation after a brief demotion to the bullpen, striking out a career-high eleven hitters to boot. It was his first major league complete game and shutout, on only 110 pitches for an 8-0 Giants romp, and the first no-hitter ever thrown at AT&T Park. In fact, 2009’s starting rotation was one of the strongest in Giants history, two of whom went to the All-Star Game including successfully defending Cy Young champ Tim Lincecum, who started the game. He won his second straight NL Cy Young Award even though he won only 15 games in 2009, finishing at 15-7, becoming the only pitcher to capture the Cy Young Award in each of his first two full major league seasons.
But tragically on July 19, Sue Burns, the team’s senior general partner who was a virtual fixture in her seat adjacent to the Giants’ dugout, died early that Sunday morning of cancer. She was the widow of Harmon Burns, a Bay area financier who was a key member of the investor group that had saved the team from moving to Tampa at the end of the 1992 season. The Giants honored her with a pregame ceremony with Barry Bonds in attendance.
On July 20, the Giants traded one of their top prospects, AA pitcher Tim Alderson, for Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Freddy Sánchez. Alderson was the first round pick in the 2007 draft and was ranked prospect number four in the Giants’ organization byBaseball America, but Sánchez provided a much needed jump for their offense, batting .293 with 41 RBI and 22 walks for the season. On September 11, the Giants added another key player when they brought up their first-round draft pick, young catcher Buster Posey, from their AAA affiliate the Fresno Grizzlies.
Although the 2009 Giants finished only 14 games above .500, they won 16 more games than in 2008. With the emergence of star slugger Pablo Sandoval to provide solid offensive support for their dominant pitching staff, they looked forward to making the playoffs next year for the first time since 2003.
2010–present: Champions at last[edit source | editbeta]
2010: Torture and triumph[edit source | editbeta]Main article: 2010 San Francisco Giants season
In 2010, in a season described as “Giants Baseball: Torture” by Duane Kuiper, their veteran announcer and former big-league second baseman, the Giants won the National League Western Division for the first time since 2003 after trailing the San Diego Padres for most of the season, in fact from May to mid-to-late September. (The “torture” slogan was coined on the April 21 edition of the five-minute pregame KNBR radio feature Kruk and Kuip on Baseball after the Giants lost 1–0 to the Padres even though Jonathan Sánchezhad held the Pads to one lone hit.) On July 4, after the Giants lost a four-game road series in Colorado, their halfway season mark was a mere 41-40. But riding a 21-game hitting streak by Buster Posey, called up in May from AAA Fresno, the Giants then won 19 of the remaining 24 games in July. In August, however, they had a losing record of 13–15, including four series losses against the Braves, Padres, Phillies and Cardinals. On August 25, despite overcoming a 10–1 deficit in the 5th inning, they lost to the Reds in extra innings at home to drop 6.5 games behind San Diego. Three days later, following an 11–3 debacle at home against the Diamondbacks, Brian Sabean, Bruce Bochy and Drew Northfield met privately with the starting pitchers, who had gone 5–13 with a 5.56 ERA in August, including 14 straight starts without a win.
But the Padres finally faltered as well, losing ten in a row going into September. On the 5th, the Giants moved to within a game of first place with a 3-0 win against the Dodgers. Despite being shut out four times in ten games, they went 18–8 in September to take over first place by three games on the strength of their pitching with a microscopic team ERA of 1.78, the lowest in the National League in a September stretch run since the 1965 Dodgers (when they surged ahead of the Giants to stay in the wake of Sandy Koufax‘s perfect game in Chicago). During that September run, Giants’ pitchers allowed no more than three runs in 18 straight games, the longest single-season streak since 1920. The division title came down to the final three games of the year in October at home against San Diego. The Giants needed only one win to clinch the division, lost the first two but won the last regular-season game on a bright Sunday afternoon, 3–0. Jonathan Sánchez, who had been ridiculed in August when he failed to make good a boast that the Giants would sweep the Padres in that last series, led the September charge with a 3–1 record (culminating with that 3-0 clincher against the Pads on the final day) and a 1.17 ERA. Closer Brian Wilson finished up for a franchise record-tying, major-league-leading, 48th save. Giants went 51–30 in the second half of the season, 29-14 against division opponents after a dismal 9–20 first half start.Main articles: 2010 National League Division Series, 2010 National League Championship Series, and 2010 World Series
At the start of the 2010 season only one (Jim Caple of ESPN.com, although he later recanted his pick before the NLCS, saying the Philadelphia Phillies would beat the Giants and advance to the World Series) of the many baseball writers and pundits picked the Giants to reach the World Series, most of them not expecting San Francisco even to make the playoffs.
In the 2010 National League Division Series, the Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves three games to one. Tim Lincecum won Game 1 with a memorable and record-setting 14-strikeout, 2-hit 1-0 home shutout performance, Cody Ross with a two-out single driving in the lone run of the game. After blowing a commanding eight-inning lead, they lost Game 2 in extra innings on Rick Ankiel‘s mammoth home run. They rebounded to win Game 3 in Atlanta, coming from behind down to their last strike with two outs and a runner on first in the top of the ninth, on singles by Freddy Sánchez and Aubrey Huff followed by one of second baseman Brooks Conrad‘s multiple errors which brought in the eventual winning run, Wilson saving it as he did a similar thriller in Game 4, with the Giants again coming from behind but this time in the middle innings. In the ensuing NLCS, the Giants took a 3–1 advantage over the Philadelphia Phillies, winning Games 3 & 4 at home after splitting the first two at Philadelphia. Starting pitcher for the Giants Tim Lincecum was rematched against the Phillies’ Roy Halladay in Game 5, who beat them 4-2 coming from behind early on Aubrey Huff‘s infield error, forcing a return trip to Philadelphia, where the Giants won a heart-stopping 3-2 Game 6 on stellar relief pitching including yet another Wilson save, ending with a perfectly thrown called third strike slider on the outside corner against slugger Ryan Howard with the would-be tying and winning runs on, after Juan Uríbe‘s two-out solo tiebreaking homer in the top of the eighth, to win the NLCS 4–2 and advance to face the Texas Rangers in the 2010 World Series.
Game 1 of the 2010 World Series in San Francisco was a highly anticipated matchup between two-time (2008–09) National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum against 2008 American League Cy Young winner (and heretofore undefeated in postseason play) Texas Ranger southpaw Cliff Lee. But the anticipated pitchers’ duel turned into a slugfest as the Giants beat the Rangers 11–7 on the strength of Freddy Sanchez‘s three doubles, setting a World Series record as the first to hit three consecutive doubles in his first three at-bats; Juan Uríbe‘s three-run blast, his second homer in two straight postseason games; and Vladimir Guerréro‘s woeful failure to cover AT&T Park’s spacious right field after DH’ing most of the regular season for Texas (with no DH in NL parks). The Giants also scored the most runs (6) in a single half-inning in a World Series since 1933 (when they also won the World Series, against theWashington Senators). The next day, the Giants won Game 2, breaking open a 2-0 pitching duel between Matt Cain (7 2/3 scoreless innings) and C.J. Wilson after Ranger pitchers walked 4 in a row and gave up 7 runs to the Giants in the bottom of the eighth for a 9-0 Giants lead and win. The Giants lost Game 3 in Arlington, Texas, 4–2 on Ranger rookie slugging first baseman Mitch Moreland‘s second inning three-run homer off Jonathan Sánchez, superstar Josh Hamilton‘s solo blast in the fifth. But Game 4 belonged to the Giants, as rookie left-handed starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner shut out the Rangers for eight innings on a hot Halloween Sunday night with home runs by Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey propelling the team to a 4-0 victory, Wilson again finishing up in the ninth. The Giants, behind Tim Lincecum, wrapped up the Series with a 3-1 Game 5 win for their first world championship in San Francisco and the first for the franchise since 1954. Lincecum outdueled Cliff Lee in an every-pitch-matters scenario that was scoreless until Edgar Rentería hit a stunning three-run homer off a flat Lee slider with two outs in the seventh inning. Nelson Cruz homered in the bottom half, but Lincecum immediately went back to his wicked ways and preserved the lead for Brian Wilson‘s scoreless ninth-inning save, striking out Cruz swinging on a high inside fastball to end it. Edgar Rentería was named World Series Most Valuable Player. Interestingly, the patterns of Giants wins and losses was identical to their 1933 Series triumph over the first Washington Senators (the future Minnesota Twins starting in 1961), losing only Game 3 on the road (1933 in Washington, 2010 in Texas).
Again, the championship firsts were:
- City of San Francisco:
- San Francisco Bay Area:
With their victory in the 2010 World Series, the Giants also became the second Major League Baseball team (after the St. Louis Cardinals) to win a world championship in three different centuries: 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s.
2011: Back to square one[edit source | editbeta]
2011 began on a dark note when Giants fan paramedic Bryan Stow suffered a life-threatening head injury and was permanently disabled in an attack by two Dodgers fans in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot on Opening Day after they had insulted and threatened him in the stands during the game. Further tragedy ensued on May 25 in extra innings when overzealous Florida utility man Scott Cousinscrashed into the Giants’ plate-blocking Rookie of the Year catcher Buster Posey as he slid home with the eventual Marlin winning run, fracturing Posey’s ankle and ending his season. San Francisco finished the 2011 season with a 86–76 record, winding up in second place in the NL West eight games behind the division-winning Arizona Diamondbacks for lack of hitting and other key injuries (such as to second baseman Freddy Sánchez in late May shortly before Posey’s injury, and to closer Brian Wilson in August).
2012: Champions Again[edit source | editbeta]
The Giants started the season playing barely above .500, trailing the Dodgers in second place for most of the first half of the season and falling to 7.5 games back near the end of May. But a 17–10 June by the Giants (including a home sweep of the Dodgers) while the Dodgers slumped to 11–17 put the Giants ahead by one game at the end of the month. The Giants and Dodgers would continue to trade places at the top until August 20, at which point another sweep of the Dodgers gave the Giants the lead for good.
Melky Cabrera was named the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game. Matt Cain was the starting and winning pitcher. Pablo Sandoval became the first player in All-Star Game history to hit a bases-loaded triple. At the trade deadline, the Giants acquired right fielder Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies and second baseman Marco Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies. On August 15, Cabrera was suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Despite the loss of their best hitter at the time of the suspension (.346) and the Dodgers making several blockbuster trades, the Giants still won the 2012 NL West Division, led by Scútaro’s 20-game hit streak in the last twenty games of the regular season for a .306 average and NL MVP-to-be Buster Posey‘s league-leading .336.
On October 11, the Giants became the first NL team to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the NLDS to beat the Cincinnati Reds in three straight games, and were also the first major league team to take a best-of-five postseason series by winning the last three on the road. In the final game, Buster Posey hit a grand slam to secure their victory. The St. Louis Cardinals won the first three out of four games in the NLCS. Barry Zito, who had been left off of the 2010 postseason roster, led the Giants to a 5-0 win in game 5, pitching 7 2⁄3scoreless innings. The Giants won Games 6 and 7, as Scútaro was chosen MVP of the NLCS with his .500 average. The Giants won the first game of the World Series against the Detroit Tigers, with Pablo Sandoval becoming the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a World Series game (on his first three at-bats), and proceeded to sweep Detroit in four straight games for their second world championship in three years after Sergio Romo retired the Tigers in order in their half of the tenth for his third consecutive save of the Series. Sandoval received the World Series MVP award.
Rivalries[edit source | editbeta]
The Giants’ rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers dates back to when the two teams were based in New York, as does their rivalry with the New York Yankees for that matter. Their rivalry with the Oakland Athletics dates back to when the Giants were in New York and the A’s were in Philadelphia and played each other in the 1905, 1911 & 1913 World Series, and was renewed in 1968 when the Athletics moved from Kansas City and the teams again played each other in the earthquake-interrupted 1989 Bay Bridge World Series. The 2010NLCS inaugurated a Giants rivalry with the Philadelphia Phillies after confrontations between Jonathan Sánchez and Chase Utley, and between Ramón Ramírez and Shane Victorino. Victorino is widely hated by Giants fans, as was Sánchez by Philly fans before the Giants traded him to the Kansas City Royals after the 2011 season. The rivalry between the New York Giants and Chicago Cubs in the early twentieth century had been universally regarded as one of the most heated in baseball, with Merkle’s boner leading to a 1908 season-ending matchup in New York of particular note. That historical rivalry was revisited in their one-game playoff in Chicago at the end of the 1998 season, and on June 6, 2012 in a “Turn Back The Century” game in which both teams wore replica 1912 uniforms.
Los Angeles Dodgers[edit source | editbeta]Main article: Dodgers–Giants rivalry
The Giants-Dodgers feud began in the late 19th century when both clubs were based in New York City, with the Dodgers based inBrooklyn and the Giants playing at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan. After the 1957 season, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malleydecided to move the team to Los Angeles primarily for financial reasons. Along the way, he managed to convince Giants ownerHorace Stoneham (who was considering moving his team to Minnesota) to preserve the rivalry by taking his team to San Francisco as well. New York baseball fans were stunned and heartbroken by the move. Given that the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have long been competitors in economic, cultural and political arenas, their new California venues became fertile ground for transplantation of the ancient rivalry.
Both teams’ having endured for over a century while leaping across an entire continent, as well as the rivalry’s growth from cross-city to cross-state, have led to its being considered one of the greatest in sports history.
Unlike many other historic baseball matchups in which one of the two teams involved dominates the other for most of their history, the Giants-Dodgers rivalry has been marked by persistent balance in the success of the both teams. While the Giants have more total wins, head-to-head wins, National League pennants and World Series titles in franchise history, the Dodgers have won the National League West eleven times compared to the Giants’ eight since the start of division play in 1969, and have made the postseason as thewild card twice while the Giants were the wild card entry only once. The Giants didn’t win their first world championship in California until 2010, while the Dodgers won their last world title in 1988. As of the end of the 2012 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers lead the San Francisco Giants in California World Series triumphs, 5-2, almost reversing their performance in New York, where the Giants led the Dodgers in World Series championships, 5-1. Currently the 2013 season series is tied at 5 games a piece.
Oakland Athletics[edit source | editbeta]Main article: Bay Bridge Series
A geographic rivalry with the cross-Bay American League Athletics greatly increased with the 1989 World Series, nicknamed the “Battle of the Bay”, which Oakland swept (and which was interrupted by the Loma Prieta earthquake moments before the scheduled start of Game 3 in San Francisco). In addition, the introduction of interleague play in 1997 has pitted the two teams teams against each other for usually six games every season since 1997, three in each city (but only four in 2013, two in each city). Before 1997, they played each other only in Cactus League spring training. Their interleague play wins and losses (34-28 in favor of the A’s as of the end of the 2012 season) have been fairly evenly divided despite differences in league, style of play, stadium, payroll, fan base stereotypes, media coverage and World Series records, all of which have heightened the rivalry in recent years. The intensity of the rivalry and how it is understood varies among Bay Area fans. A’s fans generally view the Giants as a hated rival, while Giants fans generally view the A’s as a friendly rival much lower on the scale. This is most likely due to the A’s lack of a historical rival, while the Giants have their heated rivalry with the Dodgers. Some Bay Area fans are fans of both teams. The “split hats” that feature the logos of both teams best embodies the shared fan base. Other Bay Area fans view the competition between the two teams as a “friendly rivalry,” with little actual hatred compared to similar ones such as the Subway Series (New York Mets vs. New York Yankees), the Red Line Series (Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox) and the Freeway Series (Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).
The Giants and A’s enjoyed a limited rivalry at the start of the 20th century before the Yankees began to dominate after the acquisition of Babe Ruth in 1920, when the Giants were in New York and the A’s were in Philadelphia. The teams were managed by legendary leaders John McGraw and Connie Mack, who were considered not only friendly rivals but the premier managers during that era, especially in view of their longevity (Mack for 50 years, McGraw for 30) since both were majority owners. Each team played in five of the first 15 World Series (tying them with the Red Sox and Cubs for most World Series appearances during that time period). As the New York Giants and the Philadelphia A’s, they met in three World Series, with the Giants winning in 1905 and the A’s in 1911 & 1913. After becoming the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s, they met in a fourth Series in 1989 resulting in the A’s last world championship as of the end of the 2012 season.
Historical rivalry[edit source | editbeta]
New York Yankees[edit source | editbeta]
Though in different leagues, the Giants have also been historical rivals of the Yankees, starting in New York before the Giants moved to the West Coast. Before the institution of interleague play in 1997, the two teams had little opportunity to play each other except in seven World Series: 1921, 1922, 1923, 1936, 1937, 1951 and 1962, the Yankees winning the last five of the seven. The teams have met twice in regular season interleague play as of the end of the 2012 season: in 2002 at old Yankee Stadium, and in 2007 atAT&T Park.
In his July 4, 1939 farewell speech ending with the renowned “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” Yankee slugger Lou Gehrig, who played in 2,130 consecutive games, declared that the Giants were a team he “would give his right arm to beat, and vice versa.”
Baseball Hall of Famers[edit source | editbeta]
As of 2012, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame has inducted 66 representatives of the Giants (55 players and 11 managers) into the Hall of Fame, more than any other team in the history of baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the second most (45 players, 9 managers) and the Yankees with the third most (41 players, 11 managers).
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