Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday Baseball Post

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 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?


  1. Thanks for sharing your early memories. Sounds like you just missed the American League pennant race in 1967, the Tigers dominant year in '68 (Kaline! Freehan! McLain! Mayo Smith!) and then the modern era when the Orioles started the playoffs in '69.

    Despite those fond Michigan memories, after moving to the Bay Area in 1987, I ended up a Giants fan after they lost to the Dodgers in 1993.

    The common pattern here is binding attraction while losing a pennant race; be it in '67 or '83. I grew up among all those Cub fans so you'd think I'd know better. Fortunately, the Tigers and the Giants weren't hapless...

  2. The reason I remember the Pilots is that 1970 was the first year I collected baseball cards (or rather, the first year my older brother did, although I probably bought a couple of packs too), and there were still Pilots cards. They had moved to Milwaukee too late to reprint them all.

    It's funny how those things happen. The Pilots and Senators seem like real, living things to me, but the Kansas City A's are ancient history, from the distant past, not unlike the St. Louis Browns or Boston Braves.

  3. Interesting stuff. My Dad was a Giants fan, growing up in Brooklyn (and I never did figure out how that happened). I was born a few months after the Shot Heard 'Round The World and thus was named after Bobby Thomson, who wrote a very nice letter to my folks which I still have.

    Dad was such a Giants fan that one significant reason he accepted a position at Stanford was that the Giants had moved there a few years before. So of course I had no choice in the matter, although I do find myself a little conflicted when the Giants come to Milwaukee.

    My only regret about being a Giants fan at that young age was being unable to appreciate Sandy Koufax. I remember watching the no-hitter he pitched against the Giants and being absolutely furious. What I would give now to have seen that game.

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