Top 10 Reasons Of All Time To Be A Giants Fan
After looking at the "Top Five Reasons To Look Forward To 2010," I wanted to look back at the history of the Giants since their inception into the league as the New York Gothams in 1883.
As one of the oldest franchises in Major League history, the Gothams/New York Giants/San Francisco Giants franchise has a lot to boast about.
They have the most wins of any franchise in baseball history, with 10,270 under their belt. They've won five World Series titles and 20 National League pennants.
They also have the most members in the Hall of Fame (55, plus 11 managers),three Cy Young Award winners, 12 Most Valuable Player winners, five Rookies of the Year, and four players in the 500 home run club, including the all-time home run leader, Barry Bonds.
There are plenty of reasons to love this team, from the past to the present, and hopefully, if you're on the fence, this list can give you some insight into why Giants fans are who they are.
If you're a Dodger fan, go watch Kirk Gibson win the 1988 World Series for you and let me know when that gets old.
(photo courtesy of Life Magazine)
Christian "Christy" Mathewson first broke into the majors in 1900 at age 19.
His first year in the majors was nothing special, as he went 0-3 in six games, but it was only up from there.
The "Christian Gentleman," as he was known, finished his career third on the all-time wins list with 373. He has over 2500 strikeouts, a career ERA of 2.13, and a staggeringly low WHIP of 1.058.
As for single-season feats, Mathewson compiled four seasons of 30-plus wins, including 37 in 1908, and eight seasons of 20-plus wins, including a 20-17 record his sophomore season.
He led the league in strikeouts four times, and had over 200 strikeouts five times. He also had five years with an ERA under 2.00.
In 1908, in addition to his 37 wins, Mathewson also had a K:BB ratio of 6.17, totaling 259 strikeouts to just 42 walks. His 1.43 ERA led the league, as did his 34 complete games and 11 shutouts.
"Big Six" played for the Giants for every game of his 17-year career except the last one, which was just as epic as the rest of his storied journey into the Hall of Fame.
In July of 1916, the 35-year-old Mathewson was traded to the Reds for Buck Herzog and Red Killefer.
He took the mound for the Reds and proceeded to pitch a complete game to get the win. Granted, he gave up eight runs and only struck out three batters, but he added one more win to his total and another complete game to a large stash of stats that continue to impress even today.
Mel "Master Melvin" Ott was a huge power hitter in an age where he was very overshadowed, especially by the other New York titan, Babe Ruth.
In fact, the slight-figured lefty became the third person to hit more than 500 home runs, behind the Babe and Jimmie Foxx.
Ott broke in at age 17, and played for the Giants for the entirety of his 22-year career. He blasted 511 home runs, leading the league six times, had a lifetime average of .304, drove in 100-plus runs for eight straight years, and even amassed over 100 walks ten times.
He made twelve All-Star teams, and was even a player-manager (one of many for the Giants) towards the end of his career, from 1942-1948.
Master Melvin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951, had his number (4) retired by the Giants in 1949, and was elected to the All-Century team in 1999.
If you know baseball, you know the Say-Hey Kid. If you haven't seen the picture above before, then you don't know baseball.
"The Catch" is one of the most iconic baseball pictures ever, but Mays catching the ball off the big bat of Cleveland's Vic Wertz is only a slice of one of the most illustrious careers in baseball history.
Willie Mays is seen by many to be the greatest baseball player ever.
He was a defensive whiz in center field, as Wertz and all Indians fans know. He could run, stealing 338 bases in his career while leading the league four times.
And boy, could he hit, holding a lifetime average of .302, mashing 660 career home runs, driving in 1903 runs, and knocking out an impressive 3283 hits.
Mays made a record-tying 24 All-Star appearances, won two MVP awards, had eight consecutive 100-RBI seasons, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Mays is still hanging around the Giants clubhouse to this day, as represented by his presence at this year's Spring Training, teaching young outfielders proper throwing technique.
He's a Giants legend, and there's a reason that AT&T Park is located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.
"Stretch" is a reason to be a Giants fan because of his personality more than his raw stats.
When management came up with an award to the Giant player that best displayed competitive spirit and team leadership, they didn't name it the "Willie Mac Award" for nothing.
But let's look at his stats anyway.
A .270 career hitter, he also mashed 521 homers, and had 1555 RBI. He was the 1959 Rookie of the Year and the 1969 Most Valuable Player. McCovey also made six All-Star teams.
In 1977 he returned to the Giants and won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award, hitting 28 homers and driving in 86 runs at age 39.
He led the league in OPS three years in a row, and also held the record for intentional walks before it was broken by another Giant farther down on this list.
Like Mays, Stretch is still around as a senior advisor to the Giants, and will sometimes make an appearance in the clubhouse.
McCovey had his number 44 retired by the Giants in 1975, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986 in his first year of eligibility.
Pioneers to the West Coast
The Giants will forever be known as the first team to play a Major League Baseball game in California.
The move to San Francisco was one that was predicated on a much-needed change of scenery from the crumbling Polo Grounds and a desire to start a new era of Giants baseball.
Although there wasn't an immediate solution, San Francisco had its draws as a major metropolitan area.
Residents were hungry for a sports franchise, and they got their wish when the Giants moved in 1957. They played their first two years in Seals Stadium (pictured), and then moved to Candlestick Park.
The rivalry that was already heated in New York followed when the Brooklyn Dodgers also announced their move to the West Coast in the same summer.
Dodger fans will claim that the Giants only went to California at the behest of Walter O'Malley, the Bums owner, but they will always be known as the second to arrive.
Since baseball opened up to the West Coast, things have never been the same. There are now more teams in California (Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Athletics, Angels) than there ever were in the Golden Age of New York (Yankees, Dodgers, Giants).
The West Coast fans who were stuck rooting for the Cardinals as the team farthest west now had their own teams to cheer for.
California teams alone have won 10 World Series since the move. And if it weren't for the Giants (and the Dodgers, I guess), none of that would ever have happened.
The Dominican Dandy is arguably the best pitcher in San Francisco Giants history. His numbers don't exactly match up with Mathewson's, but they stand on their own as some of the greatest ever.
His legend was solidified almost before his career even began. The first time he took the mound for the Giants, he took a no-hitter two outs into the eighth inning. He ended the game with 12 strikeouts and the shutout victory.
Not bad for your first game.
But then you go on to his second game: complete game win, six strikeouts, just one earned run.
Third game: 10-inning complete game win, 6 strikeouts, 2 earned runs.
Marichal went on to pitch four complete games in his rookie year. He threw 52 shutouts in his career, won 243 games, compiled a 2.89 ERA, and made nine All-Star teams.
He also pitched a no-hitter in 1963 against Houston and once dueled Warren Spahn for 16 shutout innings before Willie Mays won the game for the Giants.
Marichal never won a Cy Young, or a World Series title, but he did win more games in the 1960s than anyone else, including Spahn, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, and Bob Gibson.
Over the Airwaves—Giants Broadcasting
Giants broadcasting has had their fair share of memorable calls, and has long since been heralded (at least by us) as the gold standard for broadcasting for years.
Highlights include Russ Hodges call of the "Shot Heard Round the World," Duane Kuiper's TV call of Barry Bonds hitting home run number 756, Dave Flemming's infamous dropped call of Bonds hitting number 715, and the whole of the 2001 season when Bonds hit 73 home runs.
They also boast three Ford C. Frick Award winners (for outstanding broadcasting) in Hodges, Jon Miller, and Lon Simmons.
They jump-started the careers of Ted Robinson and Al Michaels, added Bay Area legend Greg Papa to the team, and have continued to groom former players (a la Mike Krukow and Kuiper) in their transition to post-baseball careers.
Kruk and Kuip have each won five Emmys, been featured on the EA Sports MVP Baseball franchise, and are notorious around the league for their broadcasting skill. Dave Flemming is a great new addition to the team, and his stock is rising after his debut six years ago.
Although it might not seem like that big of a deal, being able to listen to this team of broadcasters growing up is so much more interesting than having to listen to Joe Buck and Thom Brenneman.
Once again, just kidding.
For a brief history, the Crazy Crab was introduced by long-time public relations guru Pat Gallagher. The Giants had just lost over 100 games, and they needed someone to blame.
Hence, instead of producing a new mascot to rally behind, Gallagher created the anti-mascot, one whose sole purpose was to absorb the ridicule, thrown beers, and overall ire of the fans on behalf of the team.
The Crazy Crab was only around for a year, but reappeared in 2008.
The man who had the best chance of breaking Babe Ruth's record played in a ball park that took away more home runs than it gave, but what Willie Mays never achieved in a Giants uniform was eventually accomplished almost 40 years later by none other than his godson.
Barry Lamar Bonds became the single-season home run king in 2001, hitting an unprecedented 73 home runs and outdoing the incredible 1998 duo of "Big Mac" Mark McGwire and "Slammin" Sammy Sosa. He also hit .328 that year and led the league with a blistering OPS of 1.379.
He became the all-time career home run king on August 7, 2007 (pictured), passing Henry Aaron and upping the bar from 755 to 763 career dingers.
Remember, this is only two years removed from a year where he only played in 14 games, so that total could be a lot higher. He hit five home runs that year, too.
2001 arguably wasn't even his best season.
In 2002, he batted .370, had an OPS of 1.381, and hit 46 more home runs. Even when he played for the Pirates before coming to San Fran, he put up impressive numbers, hitting 33 homers and stealing 52 bases in his first MVP season of 1990.
It was his first of seven, including four consecutive from 2001-2004. He earned 14 All-Star berths, eight Gold Gloves, and 12 Silver Sluggers.
He holds the career records for walks and intentional walks, including a couple intentional walks with the bases loaded. He is the sole member of the 400-400 club and the 500-500 club.
Granted, many say that the whole steroid scandal marred his career, and his attitude as a player was that of a diva, but this man could hit the ball better than anyone who ever played.
His hands were lightning-quick, his eyes were usually right, and it was very, very hard to fool him more than once.
Although steroids can keep you in the game a couple more years, keeping you healthy and letting you practice longer, Bonds' career was that of a Hall of Famer well before that came to light.
His legacy to the Giants will always remain, and even taking into account the on-field and off-field antics, Barry Bonds will wear the Giants uniform into the Hall of Fame, and his godfather Willie Mays will be there to welcome him to the club.
When it was built in 2000, AT&T Park was seen as the crown jewel of modern ballparks, taking elements from fan-friendly parks such as the Ballpark at Arlington, Camden Yards in Baltimore, and even historical landmarks like Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Fenway Park.
It was the first privately-financed park since Dodger Stadium in 1962, and as a result was basically a private venture of a very, very rich baseball fan.
Peter Magowan's final proposal for Pac-Bell Park (as it was originally known) pretty much saved the Giants from being the first team to move from the West Coast to the East Coast, where St. Petersburg was already licking their chops for a Major League franchise.
So the rundown China Basin on the San Francisco waterfront was transformed into a premier yard, one that oozed luxury compared to the hardy confines of Candlestick Park.
Every seat has a good view, and even the standing room only spots in the right field archways put fans right on field level.
Add in little attractions like McCovey Cove, the high right-field brick wall, Triples Alley, the Coca-Cola bottle, the huge glove situated 501 feet from home plate, and even the Chevron cars in left field, and the park creates intricacies and situations that cannot be duplicated in other parks.
The 50 splash hits are unique.
Playing outfield in the vast expanse is hard.
Randy Winn and Moises Alou made playing the brick wall look easy, but there have been a fair share of visiting right fielders who have no idea what to do.
There have also been some special things that have happened within ten years of the park opening.
2001 saw Bonds hit his 500th and 71st home run at home, as well as his 600th in 2002, his 661st to pass Mays, his 700th against Jake Peavy in 2004, and finally number 756 in 2007.
He also had his 500th steal at home in 2003. That's just for Bonds alone.
There has also been a 300th win (albeit at the mercy of Greg Maddux), a no-hitter (Jonathan Sanchez), an All-Star Game (2007), an inside-the-park home run at the All-Star Game (courtesy of Ichiro), and the most memorable save of the manager's son in baseball (thanks, Darren Baker).
In more recent years, AT&T has opened up to hosting events such as the Emerald Bowl, Icer Air, and Motocross, as well as acting as the part-time home field for the California Redwoods of the UFL. They've hosted Green Day, The Police, and numerous other bands.
The park has gone through name changes, from Pacific Bell Park the day it opened, to SBC Park, and finally to the current AT&T moniker it bears right now.
Yet there are so many things about this park that make it timeless, from the statues of Giants greats (Mays, McCovey, Marichal) that surround the stadium to the glove in left field that may never be reached.
Every fan needs somewhere to enjoy their team, and AT&T Park is the best place to do just that.
Tim Lincecum has been in the league for a little over two years, and in that time, he has managed to revitalize this team and this city of San Francisco.
Lincecum has filled the void left by Barry Bonds, and in Marichal-like fashion, from his catapult windup to his immediate dominance of National League hitters, he has brought a new buzz to the Giants' clubhouse.
Lincecum has pitched two full seasons in the major leagues, and in two full seasons, he has won two strikeout titles, been to two All-Star Games, and has two Cy Young Awards floating around in his back seat.
That's right. In two years, he's won two awards for the best pitcher in the National League. Did we mention that he's only 25 years old?
"The Freak" is arguably the best pitcher to put on a Giants uniform since Marichal last took his off in 1973. He's still young, but he's getting better. And better. And better.
They couldn't even keep him in the minors for more than 13 games, because in those 13 games he went 6-0, striking out 104 batters in 63 innings, and compiling a tiny ERA of 1.01 and an even more impressively miniscule WHIP of 0.782.
After they promoted him from A-ball to AAA Fresno, he only gave up ONE run in 31 innings.
He's electric, and batters respect him because they can't really do anything against him. His mechanics are insanely complicated, and his pitches are just flat-out dirty sometimes.
ESPN named Tim Lincecum's changeup, not his fastball, the best pitch in all of baseball, and he didn't even throw it a couple of years ago. This year he's working on adding a big curveball to his arsenal as well.
Lincecum is calm, cool, and collected on the mound. It's hard to faze him, whether he gets arrested for smoking pot, or ends up on one side of probably the biggest arbitration case in baseball history. He just wants to play baseball.
Giants fans rejoiced when management signed him for another two years, but not to worry, he'll still be under team control until 2014 (I think).
With the way things have been working out, Tiny Tim will not only be drawing crowds to San Francisco, but will be showing them why they nicknamed him "The Franchise."
(Image courtesy of AZGIANTS.com)
Why be a Giants fan?
Because they were first.
Because the New York Gothams were the first to win a World Series.
Because a diminutive outfielder for the New York Giants became the first right-hander to hit over 500 home runs.
Because the San Francisco Giants played the first game on the West Coast.
Because a San Francisco Giants center fielder became the first African-American ball player to hit 400, 500, and 600 home runs.
Because a Giants left fielder became the first man to hit over 70 home runs in a single year, and the first to hit over 755 home runs in his career.
Because a Giants pitcher became the only one to win back-to-back Cy Young awards the first years he was eligible.
And lastly, because when there's great history, there's always something to be proud of. Be proud, Giants faithful. Be a fan.