San Francisco Giants

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Template:MLB infobox Giants

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

New York Giants history

Early days

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 until 2005), 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).

1930-1950

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)

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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.

Mays' catch (1954)

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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, with the addition of black in 1995, the same colors of the Giants orange and black were combined the Dodger blue.

San Francisco Giants history

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 a gust of wind shook pitcher Stu Miller so much during his delivery that he was called for a balk. 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.

1962

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 cries, "Or why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just two feet higher?"

The rest of the 1960s

Although The Giants never made it back to the World Series, The Giants were pennant contenders thanks to the likes of Gaylord Perry who pitched a no-hitter with the Giants in 1968, Juan Marichal whos high-kicking pitches made him a legend, slugger Willie McCovey who won the National League MVP in 1969, and Willie Mays who is still the all-time record for most home runs ever hit by a Giant, Mays also hit his 600th home run in 1969.

1970s

The Giants' next appearance in the post-season was 1971. After winning their division, they were easily defeated In the League Championship Series by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Roberto Clemente.

The rest of the 1970s was a generally disappointing decade for the Giants, finishing no higher than third place in any season. In 1976 Bob Lurie bought the team, saving it from being moved to Toronto.

1980s

In 1981 the Giants became the first National League team to hire a black manager, Frank Robinson. However, Robinson's tenure lasted less than four years and was generally unsuccessful.

In 1985, a year which saw the Giants lose 100 games (the most losses since moving to San Francisco), owner Bob Lurie responded by hiring Al Rosen as general manager. Under Rosen's tenure, the Giants promoted promising rookies such as Will Clark and Robby Thompson, and made canny trades to aquire such players as Kevin Mitchell, Dave Dravecky, Candy Maldonado, and Rick Reuschel.

New manager Roger Craig served as the Giants' new manager from 1985 to 1992. In Craig's first five full seasons with the Giants, the team never finished with a losing record.

Under Roger Craig's leadership (and his unique motto, "Humm Baby") the Giants won 83 games in 1986 and won the National League Western Division title in 1987. The team lost the 1987 National League Championship Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. The bright spot in that defeat was Giants outfielder Jeffrey Leonard, who was named the MVP series in a losing effort.

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Will Clark began the celebration after the Giants won the NL pennant in 1989. (John Gaps/AP)

Although the team used 15 different starting pitchers, the 1989 Giants won the National League pennant. They were led by pitchers Rick Reuschel and Scott Garrelts and sluggers Kevin Mitchell (the 1989 National League MVP) and Will Clark.

The Giants beat the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series, four games to one.

The at-bat (1989)

In Game 5, eventual 1989 NLCS MVP Will Clark (who hit .650, drove in eight runs, and hit a grand slam off of Greg Maddux in Game 1) came through in the cluch with a bases-loaded single off of the hard-throwing Mitch Williams to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the 8th inning Clark took the first fastball for a strike, then fouled one away. Williams' next pitch missed the outside corner to bring the count to 1-and-2. After Clark fouled off two more pitches, he hit a screaming line drive up the middle to bring in two runs.

In the top of the 9th inning, Steve Bedrosian was shakey as he gave up a run. But ultimately, Bedrosian was able to get Ryne Sandberg to ground-out for out #3. Fittingly, the hero of Game 5, Will Clark caught the final out from second baseman Robby Thompson. For the first time in 27 years, the San Francisco Giants were the champions of the National League.

After taking care of the Cubs, the Giants faced the Oakland Athletics in the "Bay Bridge Series". The series is perhaps best remembered because the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989 disrupted the planned Game 3 of the series at Candlestick Park. After a ten-day delay in the series, Oakland finished up its sweep of San Francisco.

1990s

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 led by Vince Naimoli 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. (As compensation, MLB granted Naimoli's group an expansion franchise, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.) 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 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 Bonds 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 Baker the Manager of the Year award. But despite the Giants' great record, the Atlanta Braves -- fueled by their midseason acquisition of Fred McGriff from the San Diego Padres -- won the NL West by a single game. Desperately needing a win in the final game of the year to force a one-game playoff with the Braves, the Giants started rookie Salomon Torres against the Dodgers, and Torres lost the game.

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."

Sabean was proven right, 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.

2000s

After 40 years at Candlestick Point, in 2000 the Giants opened their privately-financed ballpark, Pacific Bell Park. The inaugural season resulted in a surprising division title, with the team having the best record in the National League. The Giants lost the 2000 division series to the New York Mets, three games to one. In 2001 the Giants were eliminated from playoff contention on the last day of the season, but Barry Bonds gave fans something to cheer about as he hit a record 73 home runs that season.

In 2002 the focus returned to the team, with the Giants winning the National League wild card. In the playoffs, they defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS three games to two, and then the St. Louis Cardinals four games to one to stake claim to the Giants' first pennant since 1989. The team faced the winners of the American League wild card, the Anaheim Angels, in the 2002 World Series. The series' climax was during Game 6, with the Giants leading 5-0 in the seventh inning, just eight outs away from their first championship since moving to San Francisco. The Angels came back to win that game, then won Game 7 to claim their first MLB championship and break the hearts of Giants fans.

Rebounding from the World Series loss in 2003, the Giants (under new manager Felipe Alou) recorded 100 victories for the seventh time in franchise history and the third time in San Francisco. The team spent every day of the season in first place, just the ninth team to do so in baseball history. The Giants lost to the eventual world champions, the Florida Marlins, in the Division Series, three games to one.

In 2004, the Giants again avoided elimination from playoff contention until the last day of the season. The team finished one game out in the Wild Card race and two behind the division-winning Los Angeles Dodgers. The season ended with drama, as the Dodgers came from behind to defeat the Giants in a late season game, winning on a Steve Finley grand slam.

The Giants' 2005 season has been the team's least successful since moving to its new stadium. Bonds missed most of the season, closer Armando Benitez was injured for four months, and ace Jason Schmidt struggled after numerous injury. However, team management has taken advantage of the off year to give playing time to numerous young players, including pitchers Noah Lowry, Brad Hennessy, 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 Randy Winn from the Seattle Mariners also proved invaluable in the strech run.

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 Fernández, 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".) On July 14, 2005, the franchise won their 10,000th contest defeating their long-time rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-3, becoming the first professional sports franchise to have five digits in their winning total.

On September 28, 2005, the Giants were officially eliminated from the NL West race after losing to the 2005 champion San Diego Padres. The team finished the season in third place, with a record of 75-87, their worst season - and first losing record - since 1996.

Rivalries

Giants-Dodgers

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The historic rivalry between the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers began when both clubs played in New York City (at the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field, respectively). Both franchises date back to the 19th century, and both moved to California in 1958, where the rivalry found a befitting new home, the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco having long been rivals in economic, cultural, and political arenas. Along with the feud between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, it is one of the longest lasting in baseball.

Giants-Athletics

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Originating in New York and Philadelphia and in different leagues, the Giants and Oakland Athletics did not strike up a true rivalry until the Athletics moved to Oakland in 1968. (However, prior to their moves the teams did face off in World Series in 1905, 1911, and 1913.) The two teams' geographic rivalry was limited to fan discussions and exhibition games until the 1989 World Series, an earthquake-interrupted series won by Oakland, four games to none. With the advent of interleague play, the Giants and A's now play two regular-season series per year against one another, adding a recurring on-field confrontation to the long-standing off-field rivalry.

Quick facts

Founded: December 7, 1882. 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: Colloquially known as "Jints" (rhymes with "pints") from their New York days. Also referred to in old days as "The Polo Grounders".
Uniform colors: Black, orange, and off-white
Logo design: The word "GIANTS" superimposed over a baseball. Alternatively, a script "G", or an intertwined "SF".
World Championships won (before advent of World Series) (3): 1888, 1889, 1894

Baseball Hall of Famers

Note: as of 2005 the Giants currently have more players in the Baseball Hall of Fame than any other franchise.

Current roster

San Francisco Giants roster

Minor league affiliations

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.

See also

External links


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