Someone this morning asked why I'm a Giants fan. I don't think I've ever talked about it, so here goes...
First of all, Phoenix was definitely Dodgers territory...Phoenix was generally culturally tuned to LA, but several years behind. Or so it seemed to me.
However: my dad was (is) a big Giants fan from New York (despite being from the Bronx), so he brought that with him. As I may have mentioned before, he was at the 10-0 game in 1951, but not game three; oops! So I inherited it. Then, we had the Phoenix Giants of the Pacific Coast League. Really good teams, too, when I was little; that was when the Giants were developing and giving away tons of talent, although soon enough it was lots of guys like Rich Murray and Guy Sularz.
On top of all that, at that point the Giants were one of only a handful of teams with spring training camps in Phoenix. Let's see if I can remember...the Indians were in Tucson, the Angels were in Palm Springs, the Padres in Yuma...in the Valley Phoenix had the Giants, the Cubs were in Scottsdale before they moved to Mesa, and the Pilots/Brewers were in Tempe, and then moved to Sun City. Hmmm...the A's were in the Valley, too, and I'll have to look up where: oh, that makes sense; they were in Mesa. I think that was it from when I begin to remember things
OK, here's one of those memory things. I have no memory of the Kansas City A's, but I do remember the Seattle Pilots. But there are plenty of cheats. First of all, there's Ball Four. Second, during spring training 1970, they had a souvenir day during spring training and dumped some of their stuff, so for years I had a Tommy Davis Seattle Pilots bat...I think we got a second bat as well, and a couple of batting helmets or something like that. So do I remember the Pilots as a team in 1969? Probably not. Although on the other hand I think I started reading the sports section in 1969...I definitely read the standings every day in 1970, and I'm fairly certain that I didn't in 1968 (checking the history: that doesn't seem quite right. Did they just have a bat and hat day and I conflated it with the move? No idea).
The other thing about spring training back then, say until the late 1970s, was that it was still pretty small scale. Not too many games were sold out, and a lot of them weren't very crowded at all. I definitely remember sitting in a lot of fairly empty stands in Tempe for the Mariners...I saw a lot of Brewers games out in Sun City, and we always thought it was unusual because people were there during the week, unlike the other parks (although the Cubs always drew well). Sun City was fun: it was a serious hitters' park, and I have to believe that Ben Oglive must have averaged a HR a game when I was there, and I must have seen him there a dozen times easy.
I seem to be off on several tangents...anyway, the point is that when I was little, I saw a lot of San Francisco Giants spring training games, and in a very relaxed atmosphere, much more like a minor league game than what spring training became later. So that, and the AAA team, and my dad, and that's how I became a Giants fan.
Well, that, and that I was born with a deep, serious hatred for the Dodgers. But that's too obvious, isn't it?