Tuesday, April 5, 2016

50 Things you probably didn't know about our San Francisco Giants

With Sacramento just a short ride from San Francisco, a good portion of the capital city's residents root, root, root for the baseball Giants as their home team. With three World Series championships in five years, a ballpark that is the toast of Major League Baseball, and a team that endears the fans, it's no wonder why NorCal loves the Giants. To show our support and help kick off the season (which we predict will end with another SF ring because it's an even year!) here are 50 things you probably didn't know about the San Francisco Giants. 

Early history of the Giants:
1. The Giants franchise first came to be in 1883, joining the National League as the New York Gothams. 

2. Playing at the iconic Polo Grounds ballpark in Upper Manhattan, the Gothams (still a cool name!) won their very first game against the Boston Beaneaters.

3. The team changed named to the Giants two years later, in 1885. There is no official account of where the new name came from, but local lore recounts that the team’s player-manager, Jim Mutrie, used to applaud his troops by calling them, "my big fellows, my giants,” and the name stuck.

4. The Giants had plenty of success throughout the decades in New York, winning 5 World Series and faring well against their archrival Brooklyn Dodgers.

Go west, young Giants:
5. The Giants and Dodgers both fled New York City in 1957, relocating to San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

6. That meant New York City went from three times to one team – just the Yankees – and the National League did not have a team in the Big Apple until 1962 when the New York Mets were found.

7. In fact, the Mets' team colors of Dodger-blue and Giant-orange commemorate their predecessors. 

The ballparks:
8. Many people don’t realize that upon arriving in California, the Giants played their first two seasons at Seals Stadium before moving to Candlestick Park in 1960.

9. Venerable and beloved Candlestick was their home for the next four decades, despite being one of the windiest, coldest, and most uncomfortable places to watch a game in the entire major leagues! 

10. Candlestick was also the inauspicious site of the 1989 World Series, remembered not for a Bay Area A’s vs. Giant’s series, but the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake that struck just before the start of Game 3.

11. The earthquake, starting at 5:04 pm before a 5:35 first pitch game time, lasted only 15 seconds but caused major damage in the area.

12. The World Series was suspended 10 days before it resumed, but in retrospect, the earthquake occurring right before the game probably saved hundreds of lives, as most people in the Bay Area were in their homes or in bars watching the series, not out on the roads and highways, which were particularly hit hard.

13. Since 2000, the Giants have played at AT&T Park, a state-of-the-art 12 acre stadium complex built right on the water in downtown San Francisco.

14. One of the best things about the new ballpark is that the right field wall is right in front of the bay, a watery landing spot for home runs that’s often shown on Sportscenter.

15. But in fact, home runs land in the bay pretty infrequently. Since 2000, only 62 homers have hit the water – an average of one every 12 or 13 games – with Barry Bonds claiming 35 of them.

16. With the lessons learned from the 1989 World Series earthquake, AT&T Park was built with earthquake plates so it can withstand a similar disaster and keep everyone safe. 

17. AT&T Park was one of the only baseball stadiums in the Major Leagues not to have netting directly behind home plate, which becomes a danger zone with foul balls – but forces people to pay attention!

18. You might notice a giant sculpture of a baseball glove in left field, yet it has only four fingers.

19. In fact, it was made to replicate a glove in the 1920s, when all gloves had only four fingers. At that time, players would just cram two of their fingers in one glove finger. 

The Giant's mascots:
20. The first mascot in the west coast Giant’s history was Crazy Crab, introduced in 1984. 

21. That season was also a comedy of errors for the Giants, who lost 94 games, so Crazy Crab became a popular anti-mascot; a lightning rod for fans and even Giants players, who abused the poor mascot by throwing food, trash, and even resin bags at him.

22. So Crazy Crab was retired after only two miserable seasons.

23. Lou Seal has been the mascot ever since, and has brought nothing but good luck and three World Series championships, so he’s beloved by fans.

24. The Crazy Crab still makes an appearance every once and a while for the Giants, serving as a villain and fan whipping boy. 

25. At one game appearance in 1999, the Crab even grabbed the house microphone and pledged his fealty to the Los Angeles Dodgers! 

Giant's World Series:
26. The Giants won the World Series in 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, and 1954 in New York, and 2010, 2012, and 2014 in San Francisco.

27. In fact, the pattern of winning a World Series every even numbered year for three year straight has never been done before – and the Giants will look extend that streak to four in 2016!

28. While all of those series were epically entertaining, Giants fans will never forget the 2014 season when Madison Bumgarner turned in one of the greatest postseason pitching performances in the history of the game. 

29. Not only did he win Game 7 on the road, which hadn’t been done since 1979, but he allowed only one earned run in 21 innings pitched in the series, for a record) 0.43 ERA, the best since Sandy Koufax’s 0.38 ERA in 1965.

Giant’s records:

30. Giant’s team batting records
Career batting: .341 Bill Terry 
Hits: 3,187 Willie Mays 
Home runs: 646 Willie Mays 
Runs batted in: 1,860 Mel Ott 
Stolen bases: 428 Mike Tiernan
All-Star games: 23 Willie Mays

31. Giant’s team pitching records
Wins: 372 Christy Mathewson 
ERA: 2.12 Christy Mathewson
Strikeouts: 2,504 Christy Mathewson 
No-hitters: 2 Tim Lincecum, Christy Mathewson
Perfect Games: 1 Matt Cain 

32. Single-season batting records
Batting average: .401 Bill Terry 1930
Home runs: 73 Barry Bonds 2001
Runs batted in: 151 Mel Ott
Hits: 254 Bill Terry 1930
Stolen Bases: 111 John Montgomery Ward 1887

33. Single-season pitching records
Wins: 44 Mickey Welch 191
Strikeouts: 345 Mickey Welch 1884
ERA: 0.90 Ferdie Schupp 1916
Saves: 48 Brian Wilson 2010, Rod Beck 1993

Milestones:
34. The Giants are the sixth-oldest franchise still in operation in the Majors, but still have some notable accomplishments:

35. The Giants have the most Hall of Fame inductees of any major league ball club with 56.

36. Their 10,780 wins are the most of any ball club in major league history!

37. If you add up the World Series rings won by the New York Team (5) and the San Francisco squad (3) the Giants have 8 total championships.

38. That puts them in a tie for third place with Boston, behind only the Cardinals (11) and New York Yankees (27).

Fun and interesting facts about the current team:
39. The Giant’s manager, Bruce Bochy, has the largest head in all of Major League baseball. In fact, Bochy’s hat-size 8 ¼ cranium is so massive, that as a player, he used to carry his own custom batting helmet with him and when he got traded, just had it repainted with his new team’s logo.

40. Tim Lincecum has thrown multiple no-hitters, won multiple Cy Young Awards won, multiple World Series championship titles and multiple All-Star selections. The only other player ever to accomplish that is Sandy Koufax.

41. Hunter Pence, a fan favorite, suffers from Scheuermann's Disease, a spinal disorder that inhibits flexibility, which is the reason for his herky-jerky playing and running style. But the disease hasn’t slowed Pence down at all, as he holds the current active record for consecutive regular season games played with 383.

42. Jake Peavy – a starting pitcher for this season’s team - is legally blind if he doesn’t wear his corrective lenses.

43. When current Giant’s pitcher Mike Leake played for the Reds in 2011, he was arrested for shoplifting six t-shirts at a Macys in Cincinnati. Leake was charged and had to complete 30 hours of community service and counseling, By the way, his player salary was about a million dollars at the time. 

44. Giants closer Santiago Casilla joined the Oakland A’s in 2000 with false documents that showed him to be three years younger – and going by the name Jairo Garcia!

Who is the most beloved Giant of all time?
45. There is no debate that Barry Bonds was statistically was one of the best baseball players of all time, including his historic campaign to hit 73 home runs in one season.

46. But he’s also the poster boy for steroid abuse and cheating in the Major Leagues, and his records frequently appear with an asterisk.

47. Even the Giants organization is unsure how to handle Bonds, who was also aloof and arrogant to teammates and the organization during his playing days.

48. In fact, the AT&T gift shop sells only a few items with Bonds name on them, and a guided tour of the ballpark reveals a few small plaques of his accomplishments but no big memorials.

49. However, the Giants organization, former players and their fans LOVE Willie Mays!

50. Mays' statue adorns the front of the ballpark outside and May’s number 24 is prominent; ballpark’s address is 24 Willie Mays Plaza, there are 24 palm trees lined up at the front gates, and the right field wall is 24 feet tall!

***
Do you have fun or interesting facts about the San Francisco Giants? Email them to us!

And don't worry, Oakland fans because we'll write up a profile on the Athletics soon, too! 


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