The New York Giants were established in 1883. In 1958 the club moved out west, becoming who they are today—the San Francisco Giants.
Along the way, there have been many fun players, many great players. Some players we hated and loved to boo and heckle. Many players stuck around for a season or two at best, while others played their entire career for the Giants.
Who is your favorite Giants player?
Giants fans everywhere have their own opinion about how they would rank their favorite players.
Who is No. 1? What about No. 2? No. 3? This list can go on. How do you rank these players?
When you think of the all-time great Giants, are you including the New York Giants?
In the pages to come we will discuss my list of The Top 100 Giants of All Time.
Starting off our 100 top Giants of all time is none other than Duane Kuiper. Kuiper, or more commonly known as "Kuip," does not have what anyone would call staggering offensive statistics. In fact, he is more known and chided for his lack of power.
His first career major league home run came after 1,381 at bats. He would never hit another. What he lacked in power, he made up for in fundamental defense. A second baseman by trade, Kuip twice led the AL (as an Indian) in fielding percentage.
But let's not rob Kuip of any offensive credit, his plate approach spoiled three would-be no-hitters.
Duane Kuiper is still very much attached to Major League Baseball. Along with his broadcasting partner Mike Krukow, Kuiper has five Emmy's for their work calling Giants games.
Kuiper will probably be long remembered for this broadcasting work, but something about me just loves his personality. The broken bat baseball card says it all.
Atlee Hammaker joined the Giants in 1982, in a three player deal with Kansas City for Vida Blue. Hammaker had a promising future, and indeed made the NL All Star Team in 1983.
In that year he posted his best ERA of 2.25, with a whip of 1.039. He also only allowed 1.67 walks per nine innings.
Hammaker was beat up pretty good in that All Star appearance. Shortly after the break Atlee's troubles with the DL would hamper his once bright future.
Jim Barr was a work horse for the Giants. He was called up by the Giants to big leagues in 1971, pitching in relief.
The California native, USC graduate made his MLB debut the same year as other baseball greats such as Chris Speier, Ron Cey, Dave Kingman, Cecil Cooper and Darrell Porter.
Barr made his own way, as he once retired 41 consecutive batters - setting a major league record that stood for 35 years. 41 batters in a row—that is ownage any big league club would love have.
As a starter from '73 through '77, he won over 10 games a season and built a strong reputation for a being a fierc competitor. It didn't matter that Barr never pitched a no-hitter, his impressive numbers over his time with the Giants land him firmly in our Top 100.
Jonathan Sanchez. Much too say about the guy. Some good, some not so good. Much to still see from the young Puerto Rican lefty.
Sanchez joined the Giants in 2006 and has been a starter since. When he is right, there are few pitchers more nasty. And again, with the preface of his 'when he is right...' Sanchez is likely to fan nine or 10 batters and limit a game to run at the most.
Which brings us to when he is 'not right'. Sanchez seems to have a dual nature. There is the dominant, fire-balling ace. And there is the basket case.
A bad strike zone, a broken bat bloop with a runner on, or an unlikely double can trigger the downward spiral of this tough pitcher. Sanchez has a reputation for unraveling during high stress innings—becoming his own worst enemy.
With that being said—on July 10 of 2009 Sanchez claimed the first no-hitter by a Giants pitcher since John Montefusco did it in 1976. When he is right, he is as right as rain. I certainly hope that by the time Sanchez is done, his spot in the top 100 will have jumped quite a few ranks.
Speak of the Devil! Scratch that, speak of the Count of Montefusco!
The Count from New Jersey joined the Giants and made his rookie debut in 1974.
His first appearance in relief, beating the hated Dodgers. He also is one of few Giants to homer in his first at bat in the Majors.
Montefusco could talk the talk, and walk the walk—winning Rookie the Year honors for the NL in 1975.
Adding to his swagger, Montefusco tossed a no-hitter on September 29, 1976 against the Atlanta Braves.
His flambouyant ways of calling out players and guaranteeing wins kind of reminds me of another Giants pitcher who recently threw a no-hitter...
Randy Moffitt joined the Giants in 1972 as a relief pitcher. Being the brother of tennis Star Billie Jean, we're not surprised he heralded from athletic pedigree.
Moffitt was a sinkerballer, who's right hand delivery could be thrown over hand, 3/4 release and sidearm. Imagine that kind of stuff coming at you late in a game. Forgeddabout it.
His 15 saves in 1974 do not jump out at us 'modern baseball fans' but they were second in the NL that year. Ask my Granny, pitchers from those days pitched all day, on three days' rest. And if you keep listening, she might say they threw up hill in the snow, bare-footed.
Randy Moffitt was part of a very dependable and talented bullpen for the Giants, and we're glad to see a sinkerballer in the top 100.
1991. Rap music 'cassette tapes' and atrocious fashions once adorned my bedroom closet. Just a year prior that closet door had a poster of Kevin Mitchell. The Giants moved Mitchell for Swift that spring.
1991—Exit Kevin Mitchell, enter Bill Swift via Seattle. Back then I didn't quite understand the commodity that starting pitching was. Even if I did, Bill Swift was a relief pitcher. Kevin Mitchell was a home run hitter who could catch a fly ball with his bare hand. What more did a snot-nose kid about to graduate high school want?
As I soon learned, Bill Swift was an ace. The Giants took the wayward reliever from the Mariners and immediately thrust him into the starting rotation. Swift took to starting pitching like nobody's business.
Swift led the majors with a 2.08 ERA, emerging as one of the best pitchers in the league. I wonder what Kevin Mitchell did that year. Huh? What? Exactly.
Bill Swift also won 21 games in 1993, before moving on to the Rockies 1995. For the short time Swift was here, he made an enormous impact on the pitching in the NL West. Glad to have watched it.
Hoyt Wilhelm is remembered among baseball enthusiasts as one of the great knuckleball pitchers of all time.
Wilhelm began working on his knuckleball pitch in his brief minor league stint before answering the call of our Nation. He served in WWII, and received a purple heart during his participation in the infamous Battle of the Bulge.
Knuckleballer, war-hero, I like this guy already! Another thing to like—he hit his first home run in his first at bat. Sound familier? It would be his only home run. Guess what Kuip, it didn't him 5 bazillion at bats to do it.
Wilhelm helped pave the way for what we now refer to as a 'Closer' in the big leagues.
It's not Sal's extensive playing time that impressed me. It sure wasn't his batting average or his zero recorded steals.
In fact, Yvars was a back up catcher to Westrum on a pretty damned good Giants team.
Maybe it was his service in WWII as a test dummy for the Air Force. That might be it.
He did manage to hit .317 in 1951 when he as able to get some playing time.
What I like most about Sal Yvars, and the major reason he ranks here—he stole signs and relayed them to the batters.
His best heist of all, Branca's (Dodgers) call for an inside fastball to Thomson in the '51 Pennant epic throw down. Yvar's relayed the pitch to Bobby Thomson, and yes, we all know what happened next as "The Shot Heard Around the World".
Sal Yvar is the Giants' Prince of Thieves.
Another War time Vet, Dave Koslo. Koslo joined the Army in 1943 as a paratrooper. Although he trained extensively for combat, Koslo never saw much and instead, pitched his way through the war.
We just don't see athletes answer the call anymore, (RIP, Pat Tillman). It was a different time, a different war, and men were men, and baseball was all the better for the return of American heroes.
Koslo returned to the Giants in 1946 and led the majors with a 2.50 ERA. He also won game one against the Yankees in the 1951 World Series.
Dave Righetti was already a veteran of the league when he landed in San Franciso. Having seen his best years as a starter pass him by with Yankees, Righetti made a very successful move to the Yanks closing role.
Righetti became a Giant in 1990. He went to work as the club's closer and set a Major League record for left handed career saves at 238.
Affectionately known as Rags within the club house, Righetti stayed with the Giants until 1993. He moved around from team to team until retiring in 1995.
Besides being an efficient closer, Dave Righetti's value with the Giants blossomed in 2000 when he took over as Pitching coach. His knowledge, demeanor and personality are a perfect fit for mentoring San Francisco's pitching staff.
Eleven Gold Gloves. Let that sink in for a moment, 11. Only one name can possibly come to mind if you're talking about a shortstop—Omar Vizquel.
Nine consecutive gold gloves. A Major League-leading career fielding percentage of .985. Most consecutive games without an error, most consecutive games at shortstop. The stats are ridiculous, and only watching Vizquel in action was more impressive than the numbers.
Although his stint with Gigantes was brief, 2005-2008—few Giant fans can recall a more proficient shortstop take the field in recent memory.
Shawn Estes is another well remembered Giant. The California native made his Giants debut in late 1995, and was shelled by the Pirates.
So it goes for some rookies. He returned to the minors in early '96 before getting called up to face the Dodgers. Anytime a young prospect can work seven shutout innings against the Dodgers, he is going to score points with fans.
1997 was Estes' best season for San Francisco, going 19-5 with an ERA at an impressive 3.18. That was more than good enough to get him an All Star selection that year.
Estes had a little life in his bat, driving four home runs in his career, including a Grand Slam. We just love seeing pitcher put the ball over the fence.
Joe Nathan. Why oh why did we ever trade the guy?
Nathan was drafted by the Giants in 1995 and was converted from a shortstop to pitcher. He spent some time at all minor league levels before making his debut in April of '99.
Nathan pitched seven shut out innings and picked up his first major league win.
It was not until Nathan converted in a reliever and eventually a top notch closer did his career really take off. Nathan's ability to come into games and take control made him a valuable asset. He racked up 12 wins as a closer in 2003, the most among relief pitchers.
Seems like a happy story for San Francisco right? Well... the kick in the groin came when Nathan blew a save in the playoffs against the red hot Marlins. In the off season, Nathan was with dealt with two other pitchers, one them being Francisco Liriano to Minnesota for A.J. Pierzynski.
Joe Nathan really flourished into of the top closers in the American League thereafter.
Sigh... A.J.? Really?
Terry Kennedy was not known for his long tenure with the Giants, but better for his nice offensive approach and solid play behind the dish.
In just three seasons with the Giants, Kennedy had a World Series appearance under his belt. Although the club was swept by the Athletics in the 1989 World Series, Kennedy was a vital part of the club's success in getting that far.
Next up Jim Hearn. Or shall we say "Pitching for the New York Giants is Jim Hearn." Maybe if the year was 1951.
Hearn was originally a Cardinals' prospect, and after spending three years serving in WWII (starting to see a theme here,) he returned to baseball.
The New York Giants claimed Hearn off of waivers and never looked back. He won seventeen games that season and brought the Giants back into contention with the rival Dodgers. He defeated the Dodgers 3-1 in game 3 of that historic playoff battle.
How many pitchers that you know of hit inside-the-park homers? Before writing this, I could not think of one, Hearn had two with Giants. A five-tool pitcher? Now that's what I'm talking about.
Put on your knickers and top hat, we are going way back with this one.
Back when players had nicknames and played in cardigans.
Red Ames began his career with Giants in 1903, coming into prominence in 1905.
New York had a staff full of contenders, and Ames' 22 wins was great part of that rotation. Featuring an impressive yet often wild curveball, Red helped the New York Giants win the pennant.
What ties Red Ames to Cy Young? A career ERA of 2.63. He is also tied with Walter Johnson for the most career wild pitches. His reputation for being one of the wildest and unpredictable pitchers kept Ames from achieving stardom.
Warren Spahn was already an established ace among pitchers and a decorated war hero. Spahn spent three years in the Army, and was also decorated with a Purple Heart and Bronze star for gallantry at the Battle of the Bulge.
Spahn in his 19th season, had epic duels with San Francisco's Juan Marichal. Spahn joined the club the following season and finished his career as a San Francisco Giant.
Drafted out of Cuba in 1965, Tito Fuentes spent most of his career in San Francisco.
He had to work at it, being sent down to minors until he was called back up in 1969. Tito was a second baseman by trade, but had to come off the bench as a utility player.
It was not until '71 before Fuentes earned his spot as the starting second baseman for the Giants. What happened then? The Giants reached NLCS against the Pirates. In fact, in Game 1 of that series, it was Tito's two run homer that helped the Giants win the only game of that series.
Tito's glove also matured, for two seasons he led the league in errors at his position. The next season he posted a league record .993 fielding percentage.
Grandma always said defense wins championships. Although Fuentes did not win a 'ship with Giants, he definitely set the bar for his position.
The well-traveled Dave Kingman—some people were just born to have a bat in their hands.
Kingman came up with the Giants in 1971. The record books list him playing just about every position the Giants had, even pitcher during late innings of painful routs.
Kingman was gifted with the bat, his glove... mmm not so much. Kingman is among other baseball greats known for hitting over 400 home runs in a career. Yet no Hall of Fame induction, hmm... maybe he should have played more catch.
Stu Miller is one of a short list of Giants who played for both New York and San Francisco.
Miller's record was not a dominate tale, but he did manage a positive win/loss record over 16 years in the bigs, and two All-Star Team appearances.
In fact, Stu is probably more well known for the infamous balk in the ninth inning of an All-Star Game which eventually cost the game.
The game was played at Candlestick, and the story goes that a gust of wind caused the slight pitcher to sway during his motion, losing his balance. History calls this the 'embellished' version of the tale, but anyone who ever went to a game at Candlestick may think otherwise.
Candlestick was great for food wrappers swirling around the diamond, fly balls going every which way, and yes—blowing pitchers off the mound on occasion. Nice park.
Jeff Brantley is another Giant who came and left fairly quickly.
He spent five years pitching in San Francisco, and was also a key part of the Giants reaching the World Series in 1989.
Brantley also earned an All Star appearance as a Giant in 1990.
Getting back into our time machine, we'll take another look at a gem from the New York Giants past.
George Davis became a Giant in 1893. He batted .355 and racked up impressive numbers in all offensive categories.
He was a stud outfielder, and later because of his cannon of an arm, moved to shortstop. There he led the league in 1897 in fielding and double plays.
I really wanted to find a picture from 1893 just for kicks, did they even have camera's back then? One thing is for sure, the Giants had a great player back then.
And here's another vintage shortstop. This time from the 1920s.
Dave Bancroft was a solid fielder and an impressive hitter. In four years with New York club, Bancroft batted over .300 three times and finishing at .299 in his first year with Giants.
Bancroft's nickname was "Beauty". I don't see it, unless they were referring to his fielding. A career fielding percentage of .944 is kind of pretty after all.
The way back machine is just getting warmed up. Next on our list of antiques is Rogers "The Rajah" Hornsby.
A career .358 batter, this middle infielder was indeed a rare breed. He was known for being a player-manager for long stints in his career. Player-managers, what a special time in baseball. Special players indeed.
Can anyone imagine Bruce Bochy catching and managing a game? Can you see him calling time out to waltz over to Rags and Wotus to discuss game strategy?
In 2001 the Giants signed another veteran who was perhaps in the twilight of his career.
You wouldn't know Benito Santiago was in the twilight by watching him play. He was as good as ever behind the plate, still able to throw out base-stealers from his knees.
Benito shared the coveted the Willie Mac Award in 2001 with Mark Gardner. An award recognizing his spirit, leadership and love of the game.
Santiago was a crucial part of the Giants push for the World Series in 2002. He earned the NLCS MVP award.
Dusty Rhodes was another Giant who was crucial to the clubs success in 1954.
It would be the last time the Giants won a World Series to date. Dusty's clutch hitting, mainly as a pinch-hitter in three of the four games helped complete the sweep of the Cleveland Indians.
He was mainly a backup for the great Monte Irvin. Giants manager Leo Durocher was admired and respected by Dusty, and he promptly lost his taste for the game when Durocher moved on.
Johnnie LeMaster played 10 seasons for San Francisco, and was real character while he was it.
In 1975 the young short stop made a splash debut, being the first player ever to hit an inside-the-park home run in his first MLB at bat.
The fans came to expect LeMaster to be a deadly slugger, but LeMaster fell way short of that expectation, hitting just 21 more home runs until he retired in 1987.
Fans in San Francisco were disappointed, and they often welcomed LeMaster into a game with a chorus of boos.
And finally in 1979, LeMaster had his own laugh. He took the field in the jersey you see above, sporting a simple "Boo" where his name would normally be.
Sometimes you just have to sit under it. LeMaster made the best of it, and it will not be forgotten.
Chili Davis, a Jamaican-born Giants prospect made the big league club as an outfielder in 1982.
He hit for a respectable .261 / 19 HR / 76 RBI. Chili also stole 24 bases that season.
Could he field? His name was at the top of the list in assist among outfielders in the National League.
Davis also had two All Star appearances in his six years with the Giants. Makes you wonder where the good is in free agency, for he continued to produce well after he left the Giants.
Jim Thorpe was the Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders of the early 1900s. Perhaps even better and more versatile than both ever were.
Thorpe only played three years as an outfielder for the New York Giants from 1913 to 1916. He also played pro football and basketball. An oh, did we mention an Olympic gold medalist in the pentathlon (sounds hardcore, multiplied by five) and the decathlon.
Gee, wonder what he wanted to be when he grew up?
Joe Morgan is the voice of Sunday Night Baseball alongside Hall of Famer Jon Miller. He was also an absolute stud of a player. Morgan, an Oakland native had already almost played 20 years of pro baseball before coming to San Francisco.
Morgan's claim to fame in San Francisco? Despite being an accomplished hitter and sound infielder, it was Morgan who eliminated the Dodgers from making the post season with a well timed homer in 1982.
Way to go, Joe.
This guy was just fun to watch. Candy Maldonado played the game the best way he knew how.
Although Maldonado did not hit for high average (career .254), when he did get a hold of one—he hit it a long long way.
Maldonado liked to travel, not only did he play for 9 different teams over 14 years, he hit better on the road. His stats while playing in opposing parks were much better, even a batting average 51 points higher than at home.
Candy was a rambling man a real rolling stone. My personal favorite Maldonado moment breaks down like this: Will Clark slides into second, and has words with Cardinal Ozzie Smith. Punches fly, benches clear. I'm watching my little tv intently as a blur, later identified as Maldonado comes flying, literally flying in from right field, delivering a soaring hay-maker to Ozzie Smith.
Those little birdies on Ozzie's jersey were flapping around his head. Completely magical, if not good baseball!
Ellis Burks was a welcome hired gun for the Giants from '98 to 2000.
The center fielder was acquired from the young franchise of the Rockies. He had already been an All-Star twice, and gold glove winner and a two time Silver Slugger award recipient.
His job in San Francisco was to rake. Placed in the line up behind all time great sluggers like Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds, Ellis feasted in this capacity. Burks also was recognized with the Willie Mac Award in 2000.
We could of used you in '02 I think, Ellis.
UUUUU (wait for it..) - RIBE!!! UUUU (wait for it..) - RIBE!!!
Jose, not Juan (yes there is a relation) played eight years as shortstop for the Giants. He was a fan favorite with his glove at short, and had a reputation for being a clutch performer at the plate.
Jose Uribe will always be remembered at Candlestick, who seemed to answer whenever the fans began the unmistakable chant - UUUU - RIBE!
When Juan, Jose's nephew joined the Giants - he had big shoes to fill. Jose was a great Giant and a big part of the 1989 World Series run.
Man, look at this old card! What an age it was.
When I was a kid, baseball cards came with a stick of gum. In the old days 1885, baseball cards came with cigarettes?? And the Old Judge was ok with this? Times have changed.
Mickey Welch was playing for the Giants before they were even the Giants. Before they even had gloves, judging by the picture. The then Gothams became the New York Giants in 1885, and Welch was one their early star pitchers.
Get these stats: in 1884 he amassed 39 wins, 345 strikeouts with a 1.66 ERA. To prove this was no fluke, Mickey did it again the next season. In 1885: 44 wins, 258 strikeouts and another 1.66 ERA.
I feel weak. Not sick, just uhh, inadequate after that.
Second baseman Davey Williams played for the New York Giants from 1949 - 1955.
He was an All Star in '53, and a World Champion in 1954.
Williams was known for being a good hitter, and a very capable fielder (.978 fielder). He probably would have bettered his legacy if not for a career jarring injury in a collision with Jackie Robinson of Dodgers.
Boy that rivalry goes back doesn't it?
Jim Davenport played his entire career with Giants, from '58 to 1970. Although his numbers are not jaw dropping, playing 12 years with the same team says something about you.
Davenport was all an around able-bodied baseball player. He probably did nothing real great, but did everything well.
Gold glove infielder, check. Batted over .250 for his career—check. World Series appearanc—yes sir. All Star appearance in 1962, indeed a good Giant, well deserving of his spot in this Top 100.
Smash!!! Just looking at Marvin Benard trucking that Dodger catcher makes me giddy. This guy will either remember Benard for a long long time, or not remember a thing.
Another fun and inspiring Giant, Marvin Benard was a fan favorite in San Francisco. Marvin Benard was a perfect off the bench player.
He could play any outfield position. He could also do some damage at the plate in a pinch, as he did for Ellis Burks in the 2000 NLDS.
Marvin Benard's spirit and leadership earned the Willie Mac Award in 1999.
Big Daddy Reuschal found himself a nice fit in San Francisco in 1987. Having bounced around from the Cubs, Yankees, Cubs again and the lowly Pirates, Rick Reuschal found providence again in the City by the Bay.
Arriving in 1987, Reuschal became the ace the Giants were looking for and helped guide the club to their first division title since '71.
Chase that with a 19-win season, and 17 more wins the year after that and you have a Giant worthy or admiration from thankful fans.
I love the fact that this guy had boiler that would make any beer lover proud, and he was out there pitching in World Series games. Eat that, Abercrombie.
Chris Speier was another one of those all around good ball players.
He was a top shelf shortstop, and a patient and selective hitter.
In three consecutive seasons in San Francisco ('72 - '74) Speier was named to the NL All-Star Team.
In 1977 he moved on from the Giants, returning in 1987 and winning the Willie Mac Award for his leadership and spirit.
Will someone card this guy? When you look this young and can play ball—look out ladies!
Larry Jansen, a product of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with the San Francisco Seals found his way to the New York Giants in 1947.
There he anchored a very good starting rotation, winning more than 20 games in two separate seasons.
Jansen won 23 games in that historic 1951 season, and was the winning pitcher in the game where Bobby Thomson hit the famous 'Shot Heard 'Round the World.'
Dave Dravecky is probably one the best comeback stories of all time.
The former San Diego All-Star came to San Francisco in 1987 for the Giants playoff run.
Even worse than losing to the Cardinals in that series, the following season Dravecky was diagnosed with cancer in his pitching arm.
He underwent surgery in that arm to remove the tumor and by the 1989 season the stalwart Dravecky made his highly improbable return to Major League Baseball with Giants. On August 10th of that year, he made his comeback debut, beating Cincinnati.
As unbelievable and inspiring as this was, tragedy soon struck again. In just his second start after returning, Dravecky's arm snapped in the sixth inning.
Dravecky still would not quit, and stayed with the team while rehabbing his broken arm. After the Giants defeated the Cubs in the 1989 NLCS Dravecky broke his arm again in the post game celebration.
This time, Dravecky would not return. The cancer in his arm returned and his career in baseball was over. He later lost the arm, and to this day, the Willie Mac Award is remembered for his courage and sacrifice.
Wes Westrum is another Giant from that special time in New York.
In 1949 Westrum finally got regular playing time and quickly earned a reputation for being a powerful hitter. As some power hitters go, Westrum did often connect, leaving him with a career batting average of .217.
It was his .999 fielding percentage in 1950 that stood Westrum out amongst National League catchers.
If you thought I was done with the Smoking Judge and his trading cards, think again.
This classic card features an early Giants slugger. A towering first baseman, Roger Connor just might have been part of the inspiration for changing the team name from the New York Gothams to Giants.
Connor was regularly among the lead leaders in home runs and batting average, and was the league leader in homers until Babe Ruth had something to say about that.
Connor has the unique distinction of being the first player to hit a grand slam in the Major League Baseball.
Jeffrey Leonard is a favorite among his Giant teammates from 1981-1988 regime. It is not uncommon to see Leonard at the park today watching his former team.
Jeffrey was a naturally gifted athlete, playing football, baseball and basketball in his youth. As a baseball player, he definitely left his mark on the game.
An All Star in 1987 with Giants, Leonard scorched opposing pitching in the NLCS against the Cardinals. He batted .417 in that series, with a slugging percentage of .917. He is the only player to be named the 1987 NLCS MVP while being on the losing team.
Marv Grissom was another pitcher on that classic 1954 World Series team. The right handed closer was instrumental that season with his 19 saves.
Also a WWII veteran, Grissom played on a very Giant heavy (atleast from the research I've done thus far) baseball team.
Marv picked up 45 wins in his 10 year major-league career.
He reminds me of John Wayne. John Wayne never pitched in a World Series, or much less an inning in pro ball.
Who didn't like Matt Williams? Before Pat the Bat Burrell, there was Matt the Bat.
Williams played a darn good third base. He collected four gold gloves in San Francisco. He was fast, had range, and could rifle the ball across the diamond.
I think we all could appreciate his fielding, but it was power at the plate that we loved to see. Matt could flat out crush the ball. While with the Giants, he hit over 30 homers a season four times.
In 1994 Matt Williams was on fire. He was on a blistering home run pace to reach 61 home runs and challenge Roger Maris' longstanding record. But that was not to be, a strike by the players association ended the season in August of that year. At that point Matt already 43 dingers.
El Divino Loco. That was the nickname given to Gomez in his hometown in Puerto Rico. "The Divine Madman."
Perhaps it was because Gomez was never afraid to pitch in any situation. Ruben was also never shy about plunking deserving batters.
In 1954 Gomez became the first Puerto Rican Player to win a World Series game.
Ruben Gomez also owns another nice piece of history—in April of 1958 he pitched out eight shutout innings against the Dodgers. Besides him shutting down the Dodgers, what was so noteworthy about that?
It was the first Major League Baseball game played on the West Coast.
When a team has gone as long as the Giants have without a World Series victory, we tend to glorify the last time we had one.
After digging into archives and researching some of the players from the 1954 Giants, I see this particular World Series needs no extra glorification.
Left handed pitcher Don Liddle will always have a place in history as a member of that team. But even more special, that famous catch by Willie Mays in centerfield—was off a pitch thrown by Liddle.
Wertz would be the only batter Liddle would see in game one, but it was plenty for the annals. Liddle also picked up the win in game four to complete the sweep and earn the championship.
Many young students of the game may know Bob Brenly as an accomplished radio broadcaster, or even the Manager who led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a championship in 2001.
But before all that great but non-Giant hoopla, there was Bob Brenly the catcher for our San Francisco Giants.
Brenly was a great teammate and good all around ball player. In 1984 he won the Willie Mac Award, as one might expect from a great guy like Brenly.
Mike Krukow. Or simply as he is known today—Kruk.
This guy has to be one of my favorite Giants, based character alone.
In 1983 when a deal with the Phillies sent Joe Morgan out, Mike Krukow became a Giant. No offense, Joe, but if Krukow never became a Giant...well, we might not have had one of the best color commentators in the game years and years later.
OK back to his playing years. Let's see, where to begin with Kruk? Well as soon as he got here, he was one of the best in rotation. A 20 game winner in 1986, Willie Mac Awards in '85 AND '86, and an All Star nod. An oh yeah, the division championship in 1987.
As great a pitcher as he was for the Giants in the 80s, he has been as much fun as the color commentator with the Giants broadcast team. His partner Duane Kuiper (aforementioned, way back, like 50 slides...) and Kruk are five-time Emmy Award winners for their work in the booth.
What is clear to me, is that Mike Krukow has forgotten more about pitching and baseball than most of us will ever know. I have a feeling Kruk's response to that statement would be "Grab some pine Meat!"
Kirk Reuter, or more commonly known as Woody, was one of the most dependable pitchers the Giants had in late 90s and early parts of the new millennium.
An intimidating force on the mound, Reuter was not. Woody pitched for control, worked counts to his liking and commanded six pitches.
Woody who was a lefty, was a crafty starter. He painted corners and featured ground ball stuff. Reuter was pivotal to the Giants World Series run 2002, being asked to start games and pitch out of the bullpen when someone went down, or Livan Hernandez failed.
Another fun fact about Woody, he was first pitcher to start a game in 2000 in Pacific Bell Park (now AT&T).
We miss you Woody, keep coming out to games, the guys in the booth love ya.
Matt "Shotgun" Cain.
Cain is a current member of the Giants starting rotation. And of late, has been the most reliable as the Giants push for playoffs down the stretch here in 2010.
I almost feel like I would be a jinx to start in on how good Cain is, but history will remember Matt Cain as a great pitcher, and not some schmuck like me writing about him!
Cain is a good ol' fashioned country hard ball pitcher. His fastball is in the mid 90s, and his curve is hard and wicked. He can command the corners as well as challenge the strike zone.
What I like most about Cain, he doesn't get rattled or intimidated. He just gets after batters like they owe him money or dated his sister.
Keep up the good work Cain, we're sure you will make us proud for years to come.
Rich Aurilia... what can I say? I have already said some of the players before Richie were some of my favorites, which makes it redundant and minimizing to say it again about Aurilia.
From his Beastie Boys "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" walk out music, to his multi-home run games, Aurilia was a crowd pleaser. He was not a flashy guy or a mouthy dude in the clubhouse. He was Richie, our guy at shortstop.
I've already mentioned how my grandma preaches about defense, her favorite Giants infield of all time featured Aurila at short, Kent at second, J.T. Snow at first and Bill Mueller at third. She was right, they were fun to watch. And make no mistake, Richie in his prime could pick it as well as anyone.
Richie was ablaze in the post season of 2002, raking a .296 BA with 5 HR's and 14 RBI in as many games.
Aurilia is now a member of the CSN Bay Area crew and can be seen giving commentary following the games.
Scott Garrelts, the right handed pitcher from Illinois started his career as a Giant in 1982.
With a very respectable career ERA of 3.29, Garrelts had his best years as a Giant in the mid to late '80s.
Garrelts featured a fastball in the mid 90s, could dance a knuckleball in, a good curve and had the coveted drop ball pitch.
Garrelts was instrumental in the clubs World Series push in 1989, falling short to the cross bay rivals. He was always near top of the list in strikeouts for the Giants, and made an All-Star Appearance in '85.
Robby Thompson was a second baseman Giant fans could get attached to. Thompson was also attached to his glove, apparently using only one glove during his career with the Giants.
Robby Thompson was a vacuum at second base, earning a Gold Glove and an All-Star appearance in 1993. In that year he posted a batting average of.312, with 19 homers and 65 batted in.
Former teammate and fellow infielder Rich Aurilia once said of Thompson's overused but prized mitt: "I think by the time Robby was done, the glove mainly consisted of pine tar and chew spit."
I'm not even sure what chew spit is, not sure I want to know. I think that chew spit should end up in the Smithsonian, whatever it is.
A big part of me still wants to see J.T. Snow manning first base, as he did so well for so many years in San Francisco.
J.T. was arguably the best first baseman I have ever had the pleasure of watching. His defense is something that should be taught at every level of baseball. Little leaguers should be required to practice Snow's exceptional fundamentals.
While it is a trendy strategy for most major league teams to put their biggest, baddest and burliest slugger at first base, the Giants went with a defensive expert instead.
Snow has too many highlight reels to list with his glove. I've never seen a player track a foul ball, slip and fall and get up and still make the catch, without his eyes ever leaving the ball. He saved bat boy Darren Baker (Dusty Baker's young son) from getting run over near home plate with a deft move sweeping the young boy into is his arms as he touched home plate. It was just in time to get him out of the way of David Bell who was barrelling home attempting to beat a throw.
I watched this game and remember it well. I'm told there is a picture of this moment in Cooperstown, which I would love to see.
It was that kind of heads-up play by Snow that kept the Giants in every game defensively. He is definitely missed, but is still around the park as part of the Giants broadcast team.
If you saw Rod Beck in street clothes, you would wonder where his Harley Davidson was. He had a unique look: somewhat portly, with a moustache that screamed "I don't want to be a goatee!" and the ever-popular mullet of the early 90s.
His look smacked of fast living and for some reason a double-wide always came to mind when I saw Beck. Aside from the appearances, Beck was all business and about as intense an athlete as you want as a closer.
When Beck put the uniform and strapped on his spikes, he was an absolute warrior on the mound. His best season ERA was 1.76 and in 1993 he recorded 48 saves. Take that back to your double wide and fry it up.
Beck recently passed in 2007 at the young age of 41. He is well remembered affectionately by Giants fans.
Jason Schmidt. An odd case in that it seemed like he waited his entire career to pitch for the Giants. He was decent to OK in Pittsburgh, but he wasn't the lights out dominating starter he was in San Francisco.
And from 2007 and on with the Dodgers, Schmidt only pitched a handful of games, on and off the DL. A shadow of his Giant self in LA.
But while Schmidt was here.. it was goodnight and see you later. He was the ace in the rotation that led the Giants to the 2002 World Series. He pitched shutout after shutout from 2002 through 2006.
He developed a change up that was nigh unhittable. His fastball was not the fastest in the game, but it found the holes in opposing hitters' swings with surprising regularity.
On June 6, of 2006, a game against the Marlins, Schmidt struck out a franchise tying record 16 batters. He tied the vintage Christy Mathewson with that performance.
I remember the game well, and to this day when talking baseball around a BBQ, I still refer to that game as the most dominant pitching performance I have seen by a Giant.
He battled all the way into the 9th inning. He started losing his stuff as fatigue was setting in. The Giants narrow lead was on the line—runners on second and third and no outs. Schmidt reached back, found a little more badass in his pocket and went on strike out the next three batters to win the game.
Johnny Mize, or the "Big Jawn". For his size, he was exceptionally nimble at first base.
Mize was already an established slugger when he joined the New York Giants in 1942. That year he led the National League in RBI.
But as with many other ball players and Giants from the ERA, Mize answered the call of duty and served in WWII until rejoining the club in 1946.
Mize was a big league hitter, and his service to our country and our Giants land him firmly in our Top 100.
This guy just looks big, makes that bat look like a toothpick.
Alvin Dark was the was team captain for the New York Giants from 1950-1956. He definitely led by example.
Dark batted over .300 three times in that stint with the Giants, making two World Series appearances. He belted a three-run homer in the '51 series against the Yankees, who eventually won the series in six games.
On defense Dark led the NL three times in put outs and double plays.
The more we get into that 50s era Giants squad, the more I wish I was alive to see it. Talk about some good players and some great baseball!
Don Mueller was another crucial player to New York Giants in the 50s.
The outfielder from St. Louis was an impressive hitter, although he never hit more than 16 home runs in a single season. "Mandrake the Magician" was a nickname he would earn for his timely hitting at the plate.
Mueller broke his ankle sliding into third base just one play before Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World.
Mandrake the Magician would be back however. This time in '54 against Cleveland. Mueller batted a scorching .389, finishing second to his teammate, Willie Mays.
This cast of New York Giants just keeps getting better and better...
Jim Ray Hart played for the San Francisco Giants from 1963-1973 at third base.
He batted right and threw right and was a fan favorite and highly touted for his ability to hit the long ball.
1963 was a rough introduction the Major Leagues for Hart, he was beaned by Curt Simmons and broke a shoulder blade.
What happens when he makes it back into the line up? He gets beaned again and was shelved for the rest of the '63 season.
If 1964 the rookie Hart came back with a vengeance, hitting a rookie record 31 homers. He continued to drive the ball well for the Giants in the remainder of his years hitting in the pitcher friendly Candlestick Park.
Vida Blue's name was respected and feared around the league when it came to facing tough pitchers.
Blue started with the Athletics, but joined the Giants on two occasions in the late '70s and mid '80s.
Vida Blue was a fierce competitor, going right after batters. Known for working quickly on the mound, Blue pounded the strikezone with a fastball real close to triple digits.
Although we were damned glad to have a fireballer like Blue with Giants, it's a shame the team never really put together much success to take advantage of his skills.
Man, I just love these old photo's. Gritty and grainy, like the players of the era. I've been through tons of these old pictures, and that NY jersey is hard to find.
Larry Doyle was the toast of the town in New York—the early days of Giants baseball in the early 1900s.
The second baseman was a natural at the plate. He helped lead the Giants to three straight pennants, batting over .300 five times.
In 1912 Doyle won Chalmers Award. The Chalmers Award—what the heck is that you might ask? I looked it up, trust me, I had no idea myself. Chalmers was a car maker, and Hugh Chalmers announced he would present a new Chalmers model 30 car to the player with the highest batting average.
How sweet is that? A car in 1912, is like having a spaceship in your garage.
Out with the Jetsons, back in with Doyle in 1915 with the National League batting title. He stole 297 bases in his career, 17 of which were stealing home. The team Captain of the Giants, Doyle was a hell of a player.
Mike McCormick came into the league highly touted, and although the Pasadena native struggled for a couple seasons, he eventually delivered.
The lefty McCormick played for both Giants clubs, New York from '56 to '62 and San Francisco from '67 to '70.
During his stints with Giants, McCormick led the league in ERA in 1960 and won the Cy Young Award and The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year in 1967.
Gary Lavelle spent most of his career in orange and black.
He was called up as a relief pitcher in 1974, and went on to break Christy Mathewson's record of games pitched (73) and and 20 saves.
He collected a career high 13 wins, which also led NL relief pitchers in 1978. Gary Lavelle was getting it done late in games by the time most people finished watching Three's Company.
Does anyone else think those orange jerseys are sweet? I'm not hoping the Giants go back to them, but it would make a nice throwback day.
Gary Lavelle hung them up 1987, at No. 79 on the all-time saves list.
Kevin Mitchell was a deal sweetener when the Giants went after San Diego's Dave Dravecky in 1987.
Little did they know, or maybe they knew and didn't tell us, that Mitchell would become a superstar.
1989 saw the emergence of a potent back to back presence in the Giants lineup. Kevin Mitchell would bat right after the sensational Will Clark, for a one-two punch that made pitchers want appendicitis whenever they saw SF on the schedule.
In that year Mitchell blasted 47 home runs, a league best 125 RBI and batted .291—NL MVP, thank you very much.
Mitchell's checkered upbringing and street wise attitude really only came to light after his role with the Giants was over. Perhaps it was Dusty Bakers tutelage that forged Kevin Mitchell into a long-standing memory with the Giants.
Of course, the over the shoulder barehanded catch of Ozzie Smith's foul ball didn't hurt his legacy.
Jack Clark was one of those players/managers who never got tired of the sound of his own voice. Known for being an outspoken person, Clark was never shy of an opinion.
But even in that regard, most of Clark's statements (that we know of...) came much later in his career, long after his playing days were over. After all, he did win the Willie Mac Award in 1980.
Jack be nimble, Jack be slugging! When Jack was healthy, as often he was not, he was tattooing the ball and driving in runs.
Johnny Antonelli was acquired from the Boston Braves in late 1954 for the celebrated Bobby Thomson.
(Braves in Boston—mental image of an American Indian with a real southie accent... doesn't work for me.)
Giants fans in New York were not pleased, at first. Antonelli went on go 21-7 mark for Durocher's for the Giants. He topped the charts in the NL in ERA (2.30), and shutouts (6).
In '56 he went on to dominate with another 20 game win season. After the team moved west to San Francisco in 1958, Antonelli won another 19 games.
Talk about being lights out—Johnny Antonelli record 26 shutouts.
Sal Maglie had an interesting career, to say the least.
His career ERA of 3.15 and his 119-62 tell us he was a masterful pitcher.
But there are couple of interesting highlights in Maglie's bio:
He was the only player to play for all three baseball teams in New York. (I wonder if his address ever changed..)
Right before the 1946 season, Maglie decided—"I kind of want to go and see what Mexican hitters are all about." and promptly joined the Mexican League. This move proved to be unwise, as he was banned from Major League Baseball until he was allowed to return to Giants in 1950.
Good thing too, Maglie was another one of those key elements to the Giants success in the early to mid 1950s.
Nice five o'clock shadow Mr. Maglie.
Born in San Francisco in 1895, Kelly had to go east to find his way in the big leagues. He joined the New York Giants in 1915, but didn't see regular playing time until 1920.
When George Kelly was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973 by former teammates on the Veterans Committee, a lot of angry writes and officianados cried foul. He was often referred to as the worst player in the Hall of Fame.
When looking at Kelly's stats with New York Giants, I really can't see why this was a popular opinion.
He drove 100 or more RBI's in four consecutive seasons, and batted a very nice .300 in six consecutive seasons. He appeared in four World Series win the team, winning two in 1921 and 1922.
What gives? George Kelly proved he was a reliable and consistent hitter and a capable first baseman.
If you look at Bobby Bonds and think you see a resemblance to another Giant legend, you are correct.
The father of the prolific Barry, Bobby was an accomplished 30-30 man in baseball. His combination of speed and power made Bonds a special player, on a team of very special Giants, including Willie Mays.
The right handed, right fielder hit a Grand Slam in his major league debut against, yep you guessed it—the Dodgers.
Bonds would go on to flourish even further after the departure of Mays to the Mets.
Joseph Gregg Jo-Jo Moore played for the Giants from 1930 through 1941.
Batting leadoff, the left handed Moore was an exciting hitter. He batted .300 five separate times in his Giants career.
Jo-Jo had his best season in 1934, when he batted .323, with 106 runs, 192 hits, 15 home runs and 37 doubles.
Moore has three appearances in the World Series with the Giants, and was an All-Star Team member five times.
"Silent Mike" Tiernan is another player who spent his entire career with Giants from 1887 to 1899.
Silent Mike eh? I wonder if he got that name from starring in silent movies. Either way, the soft-spoken left handed outfield fit in well on the New York team.
Tiernan played on the pennant winning team of 1889, and led the league with 147 runs scored and 96 walks. His lifetime batting average of .311 speaks for itself, so does hitting for a cycle and winning the NL batting crown in 1891.
Freddie Lindstrom was just a wet behind the ears kid when he joined the Giants at the age of 18.
The young outfielder / third baseman was the youngest player to ever play in a World Series game.
Lindstrom batted over .300 seven times in his career, and narrowly missed an NL MVP 1928.
That was the year he batted .374, drove in 106 runs, and scored 99 times. He also blasted 22 home runs in 1928.
Anybody else want a pair of those mean socks?
Frankie Frisch. The Fordham Flash. The Old Flash. Here's a hint, he was pretty fast.
The Old Flash was a gifted athlete, playing football, baseball, track and basketball in school. He was signed by the Giants having never played a minor league baseball game. His natural athletic ability was apparent and he was fast tracked into the league.
The young speedster batted .300 as well, in six seasons. In 1921 Frisch stole 48 bases, and led the league in hits.
Frisch appeared in four World Series (count them, wow, 1921-1924) and batted over .363 in each.
Speed is a factor you just can't ignore, even in baseball my friends.
Travis Jackson earned the nickname of "Stonewall" as a member of the New York Giants from 1922-1936.
His unbelievable range at shortstop, letting nothing get by—Stonewall led the league twice in fielding percentage.
A true defensive player and a competent hitter are Jackson's claim to fame. And oh yeah, playing for the pennant winning Giants!
Stonewall—again I ask, what happened to nicknames in baseball? Did they fade away like cigarettes and baseball cards?
Here's another classic! The Old Judge brings yet another vintage player—Buck Ewing.
Buck Ewing played as a catcher for the Gothams, later known as the Giants in 1883. In those days, I wonder if Buck even had a mitt.
Ewing is regarded as the best catcher of his era. His arm made second basemen feel like Buck was handing them the ball home, easily gunning down would be base stealers.
And how about this little nugget—he was the first player to hit ten home runs in a single season. This era was also known as the dead ball era—sporting a ball harder to drive.
The Shot Heard 'Round the World is forever associated with Giants great Bobby Thomson.
It is the most famous home run in baseball history, and it belongs to the New York Giants. Even better the Dodgers own the receiving end of the deal.
'The Staten Island Scot' is forever tied to baseball history with his famous with bases loaded homer in the bottom of the ninth in the deciding game of the 1951 National Pennant game. Thomson was immediate overnight celebrity, even though he was already an established slugger with the Giants.
Robert Brown Thomson recently passed on August 16th, 2010. His life and career were remembered all around baseball.
Thank you Sal Yvars?
Amos Rusie needed a radar gun. Because such devices were not around in the late 1890s, Rusie's fastball can never be accurately compared to pitchers of later generations.
Nevertheless, Rusiee had a heater.
He led the league in strikeouts five times. Won 20 games or more eight times as well. Control was never his strong point however.
His drilling of a Hughie Jennings in the head, rendering Jennings comatose for a short time directly led to the mound being moved back 10 more feet, to a total of 60 feet from home plate. Consequently, hitters thrived in years to follow.
Gee thanks Amos. We love ya anyways.
Almost there folks, we're rounding third on this epic Top 100.
Actually rounding third at No.19 of all is none other John McGraw.
McGraw forced and clawed his into the league after an unsuccesful debut in 1890. At 17 he was as hungry as ever to play professional baseball. And he probably was very hungry, he focused his attentions on landing a big league job when his friends and family urged him to find a normal job.
Mcgraw established himself as great hitter and adept third baseman with the Orioles before coming to New York Giants in 1902.
McGraw later became one of the best managers in the game, leading the Giants to four consecutive pennants the early 1920s.
In the late 1990s thru 2002, there was an inning known in baseball as the 'Nenth Inning.'
Enter Rob Nen.
Nen's role as one of the best closers was absolutely crucial to the Giants in his time. He had a right-handed, toe-tapping delivery that was hard for a player to time.
His slider was devastating, and was nicknamed "The Terminator". His fastball was no joke either, hitting the upper 90s.
Nen's job was to take over for Beck who had been traded away. Nen bettered the position, saving 40 games, striking out 110 and sank his era to 1.52. The Nenth inning was all but a done deal when the Giants had the lead.
The three time All Star still works within the Giants organiztion and is a welcome sight by all at AT&T Park.
Felipe Alou is one of the rare players who made their debut with a Major League team, later managing the same club.
Alou broke into the league in 1958, as a well disciplined power hitter. He was an all star by 1962.
Alou's talent for having a good eye and a great swing landed him the leadoff spot in the lineup for long stints in his career. And on 20 such occasions he began a game by park the ball in the bleachers.
Felipe moved on, and moved around, enjoying success along the way until he returned to manage the Giants after Dusty Baker departed swiftly after the lost World Series in 2002.
Felipe was the King of small ball, and loved to manufacture runs anyway he could.
But if you were a bullpen pitcher, watch out. You would be a yo-yo for the greater part of a season.
Tim Lincecum. Timmy, aka "The Freak" or "The Franchise" was an instant star in his rookie season.
But let's back up for a moment and look at why this kid stands out. One look at his stature and the last thing to come to mind is a two-time Cy Young winner and two-time All-Star.
He is 5'11", and 170 lbs, soaking wet I'm sure. Maybe some coins in his pocket too. But don't let his slight frame in a baggy uniform fool you, he has the physique of a gymnast under the orange and black.
He takes the mound and coils up like a rattlesnake. His motion is something of a modern marvel as his long stride delivers a fastball that opposing hitters have the hardest time picking up.
The changeup he installed in his tool shed is about as nasty as they come, and for much of the 2009 season was his strikeout pitch. Add a wicked curve and a hitter has to be a psychic to know what's coming.
In his first full year as a starter Lincecum struck out a jaw dropping 265 batters. He won 18 games and posted an ERA of 2.62. Cy Young No. 1 for The Freak.
In his second full year, Timmy lowered his ERA to 2.48. Again he went nuts, striking out 261 chumps for his second Cy Young in two years. The first player to receive two such awards in his first two full seasons.
And this is only the beginning of the story for Lincecum, his story has yet to fully unfold.
Another one of the most domnant pitchers of his time starts our top 15 count down, and his name was also Tim. Hint to the scouts... look for Tims...
Tim Keefe was already a superstud on the mound when he was bought by the New York Giants in 1885.
Keefe won 32 games that season and posted an ERA of an unthinkable 1.58 for a starter and 227 strikeouts. In 1888 he won 35 games and struckout 335, earning a triple crown that season. 335 strikeouts!
I think there might have been a Great Depression in the late 1800s. That is, if you had to face Keefe, you were miserable.
Monte Irvin followed Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball in 1947.
Irvin was a five tool player, he could hit, throw, run, steal, field—you name it.
Monte made his debut with Giants in 1949 and batted .299, making an instant impact with the club.
In 1951, Monte helped the Giants catch the division leading Dodgers in a crazy pennant race. The Giants were 13 games behind the Dodgers at one point. He batted .312, drove 24 homers, and batted in 121 runs.
Monte Irvin, Willie Mays and Hank Thompson formed the first all black outfield in the majors.
Irvin's No. 20 has since been retired by the Giants.
Joe McGinnity is another one of those turn of the century Giant blasts from the past.
The right handed pitcher settled in with the Giants in 1902 and had instant success with the club.
McGinnity—or the Iron Man as they liked to call him, had a reputation for being especially durable. He started six games in five days once, winning five of those starts.
He also compiled a win-loss record that would boggle the mind in the modern era: In 1904, McGinnity went 35-8 with a 1.61 ERA in 408 innings. He eclipsed the 25-win mark seven times.
Doubleheaders are something of a rarity these days, well don't tell that to Joe McGinnity. Joe not only pitched both ends of doubleheaders in a single day, he did it three times in a single month.
His lifetime 2.66 ERA and 246-142 record is a tribute to how dominant the Ironman really was.
Will the Thrill. It's hard for me imagine a more sweet lefty cut than Will Clark's.
Will made his debut in the big leagues for the Giants on April 8 1986. In his first at bat, he hit a home run off of ace Nolan Ryan. Will the Thrill indeed.
The first baseman from Giants made his mark wherever he went. He played on six NL All-Star teams. Will was indeed a natural at the game of baseball, and one of the most clutch players of all time.
Clark was the NLCS MVP in 1989, in which he batted .650. Time and time again he produced the hit or home run to keep the Giants marching towards the playoffs.
Will Clark is a career .303 hitter, and he drove in 20+ home runs in four of his eight seasons with the Giants.
Will was definitely a thrill, and day he was moved to the Texas Rangers was a sad day for this Giants fan.
Gaylord Perry was a crafty spitballer.
It was not unusual to see umpires visit the mound to inspect the ball and Perry for anything that would considered contraband.
Still as much as he was crafty, he was also referred as a "Red Ass" by teammate Mike Krukow. He was not the most pleasant guy in the clubhouse in other words. Even if he was gruff and, and.. well, a red ass, he was a gifted right-handed pitcher.
When he joined the club to stay in 1964, he was given a job in the starting rotation. In his first two seasons as a starter Perry did not stand out much.
From 1966 through '69, Perry developed into a fine starting pitcher. He and Juan Marichal formed a staggering pitching duo, with Marichal as the ace of course. In that time, Perry never had an ERA above 2.99.
No one said you couldn't be a red ass and be a dominant pitcher.
Jeff Kent is deserving a spot so high on this list Top 100 Giants. Kent was a pretty darned good second baseman.
What really made Kent shine was his offensive production. His numbers at the plate are far better than any other second baseman to play the game. And it's not even close folks.
Kent joined the Giants in 1997. He hit right behind Barry Bonds. Together they formed the deadliest one-two punch the Giants ever had, even rivaling the Clark-Mitchell duo.
Kent in the six years he played in San Francisco drove in 100+ runs in each year. Again, staggering production for a middle infielder.
Jeff Kent, number 21, right handed. In six years in San Francisco, he killed 175 home runs. The man with the CHP moustache was a beast.
In 2000 Kent received the NL MVP award, possibly bothering his superstar team Barry Bonds, only slightly.
No, I'm not talking about Cha Cha Bowls from the yummy grill behind center field. I'm not talking about jerk sauce and pulled pork.
I'm talking about the right-handed first baseman, stud extraordinaire: Orlando Cepeda.
The Puerto Rican slugger made his MLB debut in 1958 with the newly situated San Francisco Giants.
In that year he made his mark in the Majors, batting .312, hitting 25 homers and driving in 96 runs. That's one heck of a rookie year (is Buster Posey coming to mind?) His excellence that year earned him a Rookie of Year award.
In 1959 a more confident and better paid Cepeda continued to perform at a very high level, leading a very impressive offense with a .317 batting average and collecting 105 RBI.
The Puerto Rican born Orlando Cepeda kept bringing it, year after year. He batting .297 or better through 1964, making six All-Star Teams along the way.
Orlando's knee, which had been bothering him throughout the 1963 season was getting close to giving out. He played in constant pain, but still managed to produce as he always had.
Finally in early 1965, Cepeda's knee needed serious medical attention. His abbreviated season in '65 would be his last as a Giant.
Juan Marichal will always be one of the best pitchers to ever don a Giants uniform.
In his debut with Giants in the show, Marichal sparkled. His unique high leg kick wind up was an instant stand out. So was his eight innings of no hit pitching against the Phillies July 19th 1960. He one hit the Phillies, striking out 12 and walking only one batter.
Over the next seasons Marichal continued to improve, going from 13 wins to 18 wins. In 1963 that win total soared to a whopping 25 wins. In that season he struck out 248 batters and had a nice low ERA of 2.41.
Juan Marichal quickly rose to one of the two best pitchers in the league. Only Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers rivaled Marichal's prowess on the mound. I bet those must have been some epic duels back in the 1960's between the two rival clubs, the two rival aces.
No pitcher won more games in the 1960s than Juan Marichal. He is truly a great among Giants, and is firmly locked in to the Top 100 Giants of all time.
His statue at 24 Willie Mays Plaza is a testament to his long lasting value to an appreciate Giants organization.
Carl Hubbell was a left-handed screwball pitcher who's deliberate and slow wind up kind of resembles what Marichal did on the mound, just coming from the left side.
After not impressing Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers management, Hubbell toiled and labored in the lower levels of the minor league before being discovered by the Giants.
John McGraw had known how effective a screwball can be through teammate Christy Mathewson, and realized Hubbell's potential.
Hubbell went 10-6 in his first full major league season in 1928. His career really began to flourish, and by 1933 he began a campaign that included five consecutive 20 win seasons, three NL pennants, and the 1933 World Series Championship. Hubbell started and won two of those for the Giants. He also earned nine All Star Team appearances and two NL MVPs.
Carl Hubbell earned a couple of nicknames along the way—"King Carl" and my favorite "Meal Ticket". How would you like to walk around being called Meal Ticket. Hey Meal Ticket, can you toss me that glove?
Carl Hubbell left the playing field in 1943 and joined the Giants front office. The Giants retired his Np. 11, very fittingly.
Few players in any organization have made their mark on baseball like Bill Terry did in the late 1920s. This is another guy I wish I able to see play.
Bill Terry actually made his debut with Giants in 1923. But he didn't fall right into the starting line up.
Being a first baseman was a little bit of a problem when Terry first got to the Giants. Well established veteran George Kelly created a log jam for Terry and he got into the line up whenever he could, which was not very consistent.
In 1927 George Kelly was traded to Cincinnati, opening up a starting position for Terry.
In his first full season as a starter, Terry punished opposing pitching, hitting .326 and driving in 121 RBI.
Those stats grew in each of the next two seasons until his historic season in 1930. In that sensational year, Terry batted .401, which is the last time a National League player has achieved that high of a mark.
He was in the top seven in every major offensive category imaginable, and not be a one sided player—he led the league in put outs and assists.
He took over for McGraw as a player manager and led the team to the 1933 World Series, in which they won.
Bill Terry was a special player, and the Giants forever recognized this by retiring his No. 3 in 1984.
Willie Mays wasn't the only Willie on the Giants making noise.
Willie McCovey, Big Mac, or Stretch, are all names that suit the Hall of Fame first baseman.
McCovey got his first start in with Giants on July 30, 1959. He went 4-4, with two doubles and a pair of singles.
In fact, in that rookie season he hit safely in 22 consecutive games, setting a franchise record which still stands today. (Sorry Buster Posey, 21 was real close and we're proud of that!)
The rest is history. McCovey's numbers in the heart of the Giants order next to Mays speak for themselves.
The closest McCovey ever came to a championship was 1962, Game 7, bottom of the ninth, with runners on base against the Yankees. McCovey put good wood on the ball, but it never made it out of the outfield. He would never be that close.
Nevertheless, in 1969 McCovey had his best season ever. Stretch hit 45 homers, drove in 126 runs, and batted .320, earning the NL MVP.
McCovey has been honored in more ways than one by the Giants. They created a yearly award, the Willie Mac Award, given out in his name to the Giant player with the most spirit and leadership.
They also named the inlet in China Basin (that borders the right field bleachers of AT&T park) McCovey cove. A statue in the park of his likeness sits just across the cove.
Willie Mac was the man!
Now that we are inside the top four, saying the list keeps getting better and better is a gross understatement. The remaining four players are among the best in the game. Period. All could have arguments made for each candidate deserving a number one ranking. You be the judge at this point.
Without further adieu, at No. 4, is the man who wore No. 4, Mel Ott.
Mel is one of the best hitters of all time. Mel the destroyer. Mel the Madman. OK, I made those up, but this guy's bio is ridiculous.
Ott first appeared on the scene in 1926 as a New York Giant. He would play 21 awesome seasons for the Giants. His 511 career home runs once ruled the roost, it has since been bested, but has anyone put together year after year of elite hitting?
Ok here we go, in no particular order:
Six-time NL home run leader. How about 18 seasons leading the Giants year after year in home runs? Twelve consecutive All-Star appearances, yes, 12. A World Championship in 1933, and two more appearances in '36 and '37. The youngest player to reach 100 home runs, and the first NL player to surpass 500 home runs.
Mel Ott's reign of terror as a player ended in 1947. I'm quite sure there was a collective sigh of relief echoing around league. His was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951. It sure didn't take them long.
Mel Ott's retired No. 4 can be see on display at AT&T along with other Giant greats.
When Bobby Bonds left the league I am sure he smiled thinking about the future. That future is now a recent past, and in hindsight we are proud and privileged to review the career of Barry Lamar Bonds.
Barry Bonds. No. 25. A bad bad man with a bat in his hands. In my own short time on this mortal coil, I have never seen a more feared and respected baseball player. Hands down the best baseball player I have ever had to the pleasure to watch. Being a Bay Area native, I had a front row seat (literally often times) to the wildest ride in baseball that is the Barry Bonds saga.
No. 24 Barry Bonds came over from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1993. Once he signed, Bonds adopted No. 25 as the Giants had already retired Barry's Godfather's No. 24. The No. 25 was a nod to his father, who wore the same number as a Giant.
Bonds became one of the most disciplined and feared hitters of all time. But lest we forget, Barry in his prime could field as well. Just take a look at the eight Gold Gloves sometime.
Barry's approach at the plate put the pressure on the pitcher. His eye was so good, Bonds would make a pitcher break down and come inside, and that's when he had you. It got to the point where opposing managers would put on an over shifted infield, loading up the right side with fielders. It didn't help much.
It got worse for opposing teams, they soon decided not to come inside at all to Barry, and started walking him whenever the game was close. Which was often three or four times a night in his later years.
Let's take a look at Barry's feats over the years:
- 14-time All Star
- 8 Gold Gloves
- 12 Silver Slugger Awards
- 7-time NL MVP
- 3 Hank Aaron Awards
- MLB record 232 walks in a season (inspiration for the rubber chickens at AT&T Park)
- MLB Slugging record .863
- Only member of baseball's 500/500 club (500 homers/500 steals)
- Single Season Home Run record, 73 HRs
And finally in 2007, on August 7 to be exact, Bonds hit a 3-2 pitch off Nationals' pitcher Michael Bacsik and drove it 433 feet. On this pitch, Barry Bonds stood alone as the all-time Home Run King of Major League Baseball.
Christy Mathewson, after more than 100 years of baseball, is still considered the second best Giants player of all time. Imagine that kind distinction. What kind of player does that take? Especially where we are now, in an ERA where sports medicine and sports science can elevate and prolong a player's game. That is one hell of a body of work to stand over a century and still argued as possibly the best Giant ever.
Christy Mathewson made his Major League debut with New York Giants on July 17, 1900. With a new century, came a new star.
Pitching a fastball with alarming yet pinpoint accuracy Mathewson also employed a new pitch called a 'Fadeaway'. The fadeaway became later known as the screwball, and Mathewson used it like no one else.
The right handed pitcher played 17 years, almost exclusively for the New York Giants. What he has accomplished during that time will forever list among the greatest pitchers of all time.
- His 373 career wins is still ranked third of all time
- His career ERA of 2.13 is fifth all time
- Over 17 years he led the league five times in ERA
- He pitched a record of three shutouts in five days, leading to a World Series victory in 1905
- He pitched four consecutive seasons with an ERA under 2.00
- He won 20 games 13 times in his career, four of those seasons were 30 wins or more
- His 80 shutouts ranks third of all time
- His 2500 strikeouts is still a franchise best
- His 1.059 career WHIP is fifth of all time
- He won two NL Triple Crowns for pitching
- He has two career no-hitters
Now keep in mind these stats are being viewed on paper, over 100 years later. Although none of us, most likely, were not alive to see how Mathewson mastered the art of pitching and dominated without falter for 17 years.
We have to try to imagine what a player like would have been like today. Want to smile about it? Imagine that player as a Giant...
William Howard Mays, Jr.
More commonly known as the Willie Mays, and is widely thought to be the best all around player of all time. That's over 32 clubs, and 150 years of organized baseball. Imagine how many players over 150 years (or more) of baseball that excludes.
Our very own 'Say Hey Kid' is not only the best Giants player of all time, but as I said, probably the best in all of baseball, for all time.
Born on May 6, 1931 Westfield Alabama, Willie Mays learned the game of baseball at an early age from his father. The love and inspiration Willie grew for the game watching his father play in the Negro leagues would soon yield a star among stars.
As a young man, Mays played in the Negro Leagues himself. Being scouted while with Birmingham Black Barons, Mays was signed in 1950 to the New York Giants.
Rolling through the minor leagues with the Giants, Mays got his first start in 1951. It was an auspicious being to his storied career, going 0-12.
His 13th at bat? A home run off of none other than Warren Spahn. His numbers over that season improved, and by the end of 1951 Mays won his first Major League accolade, Rookie of the Year.
In 1952 Mays was drafted by the Army. Many thought he was destined for the conflict in Korea, and feared this would end a bright future. Thankfully Mays spent his military career on a base in Virginia.
Mays returned to baseball in 1954. A special year for the Giants. His MVP season saw him bat .345 and hit 41 home runs. His over-the-shoulder catch in Game 1 of the World Series off the bat of Vic Wertz is an iconic image in baseball. Mays later scored the winning run in that game, and the Giants went on to sweep the Indians.
He batted right, threw right, and was probably the best outfielder in the game for many of his years with the Giants.
Over the next 22 years Mays would electrify baseball with his amazing talent. Mays made everything look easy, but there is nothing easy about these feats:
- 24 All-Star Appearances
- World Series Championship 1954
- 12 Gold Gloves
- 1951 Rookie of the Year
- 2-time NL MVP
- Roberto Clemente Award 1971
- The first and only Giant to hit four home runs in a single game
- 660 career home runs
- Career .302 batting average
- 3,283 hits
- 7095 putouts tops the list for outfielders
And the thing about Willie, he made it look easy, routine almost. Never before was there such a athlete gifted and suited for the game of baseball.
Willie Mays is still among us today, and can be seen at the park from time to time. Oh and say hey—that park's address: 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco Ca. Home of the Giants.
Willie's number, No. 24, is retired and hangs in the park today.