The San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants are a professional baseball team in the Western Division of the National League in American Major League Baseball. Their home stadium is AT&T Park (formerly known as Pacific Bell Park), located near the Embarcadero in San Francisco, California. In front of the park's gates stands a nine foot tall statue of one of the most famous Giants' player, Willie Mays.

History of the San Francisco Giants

Part 1: New York

In 1883, Jim Mutrie and John Day, owners of an already successful baseball franchise, the New York Metropolitans, decided to form a team to play in the newly formed National League. The newly formed team was christened the New York Gothams, and they made their home the Polo Grounds in New York City. A couple years later, in 1885, Mutrie decided to swap in talent from the Metropolitans to bolster the Gothams. That year, the Gothams went 85-27, giving them a whopping .759 winning percentage for the season, a record which still stands today. Despite the phenomenal season, the Gothams still ended up two games behind the league champions, the Chicago White Stockings (now known as the White Sox). The performance of the players was so great that Mutrie started referring to them as "giants" and the name stuck, changing the teams name to the New York Giants.

The Giants won their first pennant race in 1888, and went on to win the world championship that year in a 10-game series against the St. Louis Browns. They then were able to defend both their league pennant and the championship the next year by beating the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (now known as the Los Angeles Dodgers), a victory which would spark the famous rivalry between the two teams.

With the demise of the American Association in 1892, it was decided that the first place team would play the runner-up for the world championship. So in 1894, the Giants once again saw themselves in contention for the world title. Despite ending the season three games behind the pennant winning Baltimore Orioles, the Giants manage to win the final seven-game series with a clean sweep, taking home the championship once again.

The "miracle" season could not be repeated, however, and the following years saw the Giants descend lower and lower in the standings. In 1902 the Giants had their worst season to date, winning less than 50 games and ending the season 53.5 games behind the leader. That year, the Giants called upon John McGraw to take the position of team manager, which would prove to be a very significant move. In 1903 the Giants managed a decent comeback, finishing only 6.5 games behind the champs, and in 1904 they took the pennant once again. As league champions, they were invited to take part in the second World Series against the still fairly new American League, but McGraw and team owner John Brush declined the honor, claiming that the upstart American League was a "minor" league.

The Giants managed to defend the pennant again in 1905, and this time they accepted the American Leagues challenge, and they went on to win against the Philadelphia Athletics 4-1.

In 1908 the Giants lost the pennant by a single game due to a mistake by player Fred Merkle. The Chicago Cubs and the Giants were neck and neck and the pennant would be decided by the final game of the season. During the game, the Giants were tied 1-1 with the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth inning. There were two outs and runners on first and third. Fred Merkle was the runner on first, and Al Bridwell came up to bat. He delivered a good solid base hit which should have won the Giants the game. The fans started to come out onto the field to congratulate the Giants, but Merkle never advanced to second base. A Cubs player spotted the error and tagged the base, putting Merkle out. Order could not be restored, and in the end, the game was declared a tie. In order to determine a champion, the Giants and Cubs had a single game playoff, which ended in the Cubs favor. Merkle's error was known from that point on as Merkle's Boner.

The Giants went to the World Series three years in a row, 1911-1913, each time falling short in the final series. 1917 saw the Giants' return to the World Series for yet another loss, but in 1921 fate smiled upon the team. For three straight years the Giants would face their nearby rivals, the New York Yankees in the World Series. This became known as the Subway Series. Both the Yankees and the Giants called the Polo Grounds home, so the entire series was played at the same ballpark. The Giants won in '21 and '22, and they forced the Yankees out, leading to the construction of Yankee Stadium, which saw it's first World Series in 1923 when the Yankees managed to outplay the Giants. Still, the Giants would return to the World Series for a fourth straight year in 1924, losing to the Washington Senators.

The next great season for the Giants came in 1933. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Giants pitching flourished. They made it once again to the World Series and took the series 4-1 over the Senators. They found their way to the top of the National League again in 1936, but fell to the Yankees. Their defeat in the "subway series" would be repeated again in 1937, and a final time in 1951.

World War II took a heavy toll on the Giants, as many of their best players were called to duty. Johnny Mize, Harry Danning, Babe Young, and Williard Marshall were all called upon by their country to fight in the war. Mel Ott took over the teams reins this year as well, and in 1943, the Giants finished 49 1/2 games out, and Carl Hubbell retired.

1946 would prove to be even worse for the Giants, as the new Mexican League strips them of some of their talent. Despite the amazing performance of Mel Ott, who blasted his 511th home run, the Giants lose 93 games and finish 36 games back. In 1948 Mel Ott stepped down as the manager, and in a shocking development the team is handed over to Leo Durocher who was formerly the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He manages to rebuild the team and leads them to the World Series in 1951, the final subway series.

1954 saw the Giants win the World Series for their last time. Willie Mays returned after two years of military service and took the Giants all the way, beating the Cleveland Indians with a clean sweep. In the first game of that series, Willie Mays would make an incredible over-the-shoulder catch, robbing the Indians of what seemed to be a game winning home run.

1957 was the last year the Giants would spend in New York. Talks had been underway for some time, and it looked as if the Giants would be heading to Minnesota, but San Francisco mayor George Christopher, working with the mayor of Los Angeles and the owner of the Dodgers, Walter O'Malley, convinces Giants owner Horace Stoneham to bring his team to the city by the bay. So in 1958 they finally became the San Francisco Giants.

Part 2: San Francisco

The Giants arrived in San Francisco and set up shop at Seals Stadium, and started the new season with a bang when they defeated the newly rechristened Los Angeles Dodgers in an 8-0 shutout in the season opener. 1958 saw the debut of Orlando Cepeda on the mound, and a career high batting average of .347 for Willie Mays. Never the less, the Giants ended the 1958 season twelve games back.

1959 saw the rookie debut of Willie McCovey, who went 4 for 4 in his very first major league game, and 1960 brought the Giants to their most famous home, Candlestick Park. The Giants played host to president Richard Nixon and hall-of-famer Ty Cobb at it's first home game, and in 1961 the park played host to the All-star game, featuring Giants' outfielder Willie Mays.

1962 was a great year for the Giants as they beat out the Dodgers for the pennant, and faced the Yankees in their new home for the World Series. Sadly, the Yankees managed to keep the championship to themselves once again, as they beat the Giants in a very close series, 4-3.

From 1964-1966 the Giants would strive valiantly for the pennant, just to fall short by a few games. 1965 also saw Willie Mays receive his second MVP award.

In 1969 baseball made some fundamental changes to the post-season games. Instead of the leader of each league (National and American) facing off at the World Series, each league would separate into two divisions, and the leaders of each division would face off in a five-game series (seven games starting in 1985) for the pennant and a chance to appear at the World Series. The Giants managed to take their division in 1971, but lost in the National League Championship Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Despite finishing 11 games behind in 1973, the Giants won some major awards. Bobby Bonds was awarded theSporting News' Player of the Year award, Ron Bryant was named Pitcher of the Year, and Gary Matthews was named Rookie of the Year, after finishing the season with better than a .300 batting average. 1975 saw the loss of Willie McCovey (to the San Diego Padres) and Juan Marichal (to the Boston Red Sox) and the Giants were once again in a downward slump. Talks began about moving the team to Toronto, but Bob Lurie led a group which bought the team and kept it in San Francisco. 1977 saw the return of Willie McCovey to the Giants roster, and a club record of 28 home runs, but even that wasn't enough and the Giants finished the season 23 games back.

In 1981 the Major League Baseball Players Association called for a strike, canceling nearly half of the season's games. The two month strike cut the middle out of the season, and when baseball resumed it was decided to treat each half as a separate season, and let an extra playoff round decide the divisional champions by having the divisional leader of each half face off in a best-of-five series for the divisional title.

The Giants made their way back to the post-season again in 1987 when they managed once again to top their division. The pennant remained out of their reach, however, as they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3.

1989 was an incredible year. The Giants managed to hang on to the lead in their division, earning them a shot at the pennant against the Chicago Cubs. They managed to take the pennant thanks in no small part to the performance of Will Clark. During the NLCS, he managed to set a bunch of records for the series, including batting average (.650), hits (13), runs (8), total bases (24), and slugging percentage (1.200). He managed to drive in 6 RBI's in the opening match, including a fourth-inning grand slam. The Giants took the NLCS 4-1 and found themselves facing their close neighbors the Oakland Athletics in the 1989 World Series, sometimes dubbed the "Battle of the Bay", "The Bay Bridge Series", or "The BART series" (BART is Bay Area Rapid Transit, the SF Bay Area's equivalent of the NY subway system.). The A's took games 1 and 2, and the Giants headed back to Candlestick Park for game three. Just minutes before the game was to begin, the earth began to heave as the Loma Prieta Quake of 1989 struck. Measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, the game was postponed, and many fans left disappointed, including myself. The quake had done a real number on the city, and seemed to take the heart out of the Giants' players, who lost the final two games of the series at home.

In 1992, Bob Lurie entered talks which would move the Giants to Florida, but a local group, headed by Peter McGowan bought the Giants and kept them in San Francisco. Before the ink on the deal was even dry, McGowan had signed Barry Bonds, son of Giants' great Bobby Bonds, to a deal. Barry had already shown some great talent playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and in San Francisco he would become a fan favorite.

1993 saw more changes to the post-season and league structure. With the addition of some new expansion teams, such as the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies, each league grew from two to three divisions, and a new post-season series was created. Now the leader of each of the three divisions and one wildcard team from the league would face off in a best-of-5 divisional series, the winners would face off in a best-of-7 for the league pennant, and the winner would face the other leagues pennant holder in the World Series.

In 1994, another labor dispute canceled most of the regular season and all of the post-season. For the first time since 1904 (when the Giants refused to play in the second World Series) there would be no Fall Classic. Pitcher Rod Beck and hitter Matt Williams looked to be on track to set new records, but their chances were cut short by the strike.

1996 saw a horrible year for the Giants, but an incredible year for Barry Bonds. Despite losing 96 games, Giants' powerhouse Bonds managed to join the 300-300 club earning his 300th home run and stolen base, only the fourth player to ever do so, and the third Giant to make it into the club (Willie Mays and Bobby Bonds also made it, as well as Cubs player Andre Dawson). He also became the second player to join the 40-40 club, with 40 home runs and stolen bases in a single season, a feat which was first accomplished by Jose Canseco of A's fame in 1988 and later by Alex Rodriguez (aka A-Rod, star Yankees player) in 1998, and finally Alfonso Soriano of the Washington Nationals in 2006.

The next year saw the Giants taking a trip to the Divisional series, where they were trashed by the wildcard Marlins. 1998 saw Barry Bonds found the 400-400 club and a come from behind final chance at a wildcard slot with a one-game playoff which went to the Cubs.

1999 was the end of an era as the final season the Giants would play at Candlestick Park came to an end. The new stadium, Pacific Bell Park (now AT&T Park) had been completed. In a grand ceremony featuring some of the biggest legends of Giants Baseball, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Willie Mays, and Juan Marichal, the park was officially closed on September 30th, 1999.

In their new home, the Giants managed to lead their division at the end of the season, but once again, they were knocked out by the wildcard winner, in this case, the New York Mets. 2001 saw Barry Bonds earn the single season home run record with 73, topping A's player Mark McGwire's record of 70.

The last time the Giants made it to the World Series was in 2002, when they managed to earn the wildcard slot and then upset the Atlanta Braves to win the divisional series. They went on to trump the St. Louis Cardinals in the league championship, and managed to put up a good fight at the Fall Classic against the Anaheim Angels, who won the series 4-3. 2003 saw another trip to the post-season for the Giants, but even though they held the lead in their division for the entire season, they still got blown away by the wildcard Marlins 3-1, a repeat of 1997.

Finally, in 2007, Bonds managed to capture the all-time home run record. Originally held by Babe Ruth with 714 home runs, and later by Hank Aaron with 755, Bonds was able to slug his 756th home run on August 7th, 2007. He would go on to hit 6 more, setting the new record at 762. Despite this, however the Giants decided not to re-sign him for the 2008 season, making him a free agent.

The 2008 season saw the Giants once again finish in the basement.

Prominent Giants' Players

Tim KeefeMickey WelchRoger ConnorBuck EwingMike Tiernan
George DavisGeorge MeekinAmos RusieJohn McGrawChristy Mathewson
Irish MeuselJohnny RawlinsArt NehfCasey StengelBill Terry
Carl HubbellMel OttJohnny MizeWillie MaysDusty Rhodes
Willie McCoveyJuan MarichalMike McCormickOrlando CepedaBobby Bonds
Gaylord PerryWill ClarkRobby ThompsonMike KrukowDave Dravecky
Kevin MitchellJose UribeScott GarreltsBarry BondsMatt Williams
Rod BeckJeff Kent Jason SchmidtMatt Cain

Awards and Honors

MLB Most Valuable Player14 AwardsYears Awarded
Larry Doyle 1912
Bill Terry 1930
Carl Hubbell 1933,1936
Willie Mays 1954,1965
Willie McCovey 1969
Kevin Mitchell 1989
Barry Bonds 1993,2001-2004
Jeff Kent 2000
Cy Young Award1 AwardYears Awarded
Mike McCormick 1967
Rookie of the Year9 AwardsYears Awarded
Willie Mays 1951
Orlando Cepeda 1958
Willie McCovey 1959
Frank Linzy 1965
Dave Rader 1972
Gary Mathews 1973
John D'Acquisto 1974
Larry Herndon 1976
Robby Thompson 1986
Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees29 Inductions 
Roger BresnahanOrlando CepedaRoger Connor
George DavisBuck EwingFrankie Frisch
Monte IrvinTravis JacksonGeorge Kelly
Fred LindstromErnie LombardiWillie Mays
Willie McCoveyJohnny MizeJames O'Rourke
Mel OttBill TerryMonte Ward
Ross YoungsCarl HubbellTim Keefe
Juan MarichalRube MarquadChristy Mathewson
Joe McGinnityAmos RusieMickey Welch
Hoyt WilhelmGaylord PerryJohn McGraw

Retired Numbers

Christy MathewsonHonorary
John McGrawHonorary
Bill Terry# 3
Mel Ott# 4
Carl Hubbell# 11
Willie Mays# 24
Juan Marichal# 27
Orlando Cepeda# 30
Gaylord Perry# 36
Jackie Robinson1# 42
Willie McCovey# 44

Postseason Appearances and Titles

World Champions (3) (pre-1904). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1888, 1889, 1894
National League Champions (3) (pre-1904). . . . . . . . . . . 1888, 1889, 1904

World Series Champions (5) (1905 - 1968). . . . . . . . . . . 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1954 National League Champions (15) (1905 - 1968). . . . . . . . . 1905, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1917, 1921, 1922, 1923 1924, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1951, 1954, 1962
World Series Champions (0) (1969 - 1992). . . . . . . . . . . N/A National League Champions (1) (1969 - 1992) . . . . . . . . . 1989 West Division Champions (3) (1969 - 1992) . . . . . . . . . . 1971, 1987, 1989
World Series Champions (1) (1993 - Present) . . . . . . . . . 2010 National League Champions (2) (1993 - Present). . . . . . . . 2002, 2010 Divisional Champions (2) (1993 - Present) . . . . . . . . . . 2002, 2010 Division or Wildcard winner (4) (1993 - Present). . . . . . . 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003
Total World Titles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Total League Titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Total Divisional Titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Total Post-Season Appearances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

1. Every MLB team retired the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson's career in 1997.