The Giants began as the second baseball club founded by millionaire tobacconist John B. Day and veteran amateur baseball player Jim Mutrie. The Gothams, as the Giants were originally known, entered the National League in 1883, while their other club, the Metropolitans played in the American Association. Nearly half of the original Gotham players were members of the disbanded Troy Trojans, whose place in the National League the Gothams inherited. While the Metropolitans were initially the more successful club, Day and Mutrie began moving star players to the Gothams, and in 1888 the team won its first National League pennant, as well as a victory over the St. Louis Browns in a pre-modern-era World Series. They repeated as champions the next year with a pennant and Championship victory over the Brooklyn "Bridegrooms".
It is said that after one particularly satisfying victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, Mutrie, who was also the team's manager, strode into the dressing room and exclaimed, "My big fellows! My giants!" From then on, the club was known as the Giants.
The Giants' original home stadium, the Polo Grounds, dates from this early era. It was originally located north of Central Park adjacent to 5th and 6th Avenues and 110th and 112th Streets, in Harlem in upper Manhattan. After their eviction from that first incarnation of the Polo Grounds after the 1888 season, they moved further uptown to various fields they also named the Polo Grounds located between 155th and 159th Streets in Harlem and Washington Heights, playing in the Washington Heights Polo Grounds until the end of the 1957 season, when they moved to San Francisco.
The Giants were a powerhouse in the late 1880s, winning their first two National League Pennants and World Championships in 1888 and 1889. But nearly all of the Giants' stars jumped to the upstart Players' League, whose New York franchise was also named the Giants, in 1890. The new team even built a stadium next door to the Polo Grounds. With a decimated roster, the National League Giants finished a distant sixth. Attendance took a nosedive, and the financial strain affected Day's tobacco business as well. The Players' League dissolved after the season, and Day sold a minority interest in his NL Giants to the defunct PL Giants' principal backer, Edward Talcott. As a condition of the sale, Day had to fire Mutrie as manager. Although the Giants rebounded to third in 1891, Day was forced to sell a controlling interest to Talcott at the end of the season.
Four years later, Talcott sold the Giants to Andrew Freedman, a real estate developer with ties to the Tammany Hall political machine running New York City. Freedman was one of the most detested owners in baseball history, getting into heated disputes with other owners, writers, and his own players, most famously with star pitcher Amos Rusie, author of the first Giants no-hitter. When Freedman offered Rusie only $2,500 to play in 1896, the disgruntled hurler sat out the entire season. Attendance fell off throughout the league without Rusie, prompting the other owners to chip in $50,000 to get him to return for 1897. Freedman hired former owner Day as manager for part of 1899.
In 1902, after a series of disastrous moves that left the Giants 53½ games behind, Freedman signed John McGraw as player-manager, convincing him to jump in mid-season from the Baltimore Orioles of the fledgling American League and bring with him several of his teammates. McGraw went on to manage the Giants for three decades until 1932, one of the longest and most successful tenures in professional sports. Hiring "Mr. McGraw", as his players referred to him, was one of Freedman's last significant moves as owner of the Giants, since after the 1902 season he was forced to sell his interest in the club to John T. Brush. McGraw went on to manage the Giants to nine National League pennants (in 1904-05, 1911–13, 1917, and 1921-24) and three World Series championships (in 1905 and 1921–22), with a tenth pennant and fourth world championship as owner in 1933 under his handpicked player-manager successor, Bill Terry.
The Giants already had their share of stars in the 1880s and 1890s, such as "Smiling" Mickey Welch, Roger Connor, Tim Keefe, Jim O'Rourke, and John Montgomery Ward, the player-lawyer who formed the renegade Players' League in 1890 to protest unfair player contracts. McGraw, in his three decades managing the Giants, cultivated a new crop of baseball heroes with names like Christy Mathewson, "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity, Jim Thorpe, Red Ames, Casey Stengel, Art Nehf, Edd Roush, Rogers Hornsby, Bill Terry, and Mel Ott.
The Giants under McGraw famously snubbed their first modern World Series chance in 1904, refusing the invitation to play the reigning world champion Boston Americans, by then known as the "Red Sox", because McGraw considered the new American League as little more than a minor league and disliked its president, Ban Johnson. He also resented his Giants' new intra-city rival New York Highlanders, who lost the pennant to Boston on the last day of the season, and stuck by his refusal to play whoever won the 1904 AL pennant. Of note, McGraw had managed the franchise in their first two seasons, 1901 and 1902, when they were the Baltimore Orioles.
The ensuing criticism resulted in Brush's taking the lead to formalize the rules and format of the World Series. The Giants won the 1905 World Series over Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics, with Christy Mathewson nearly winning the series single-handedly with a still-standing record three complete-game shutouts and 27 consecutive scoreless innings in that one World Series, a feat unlikely ever to be duplicated.
The Giants then had several frustrating years. In 1908, they finished in a tie with the Chicago Cubs due to a late-season tie game with the Cubs resulting from the Fred Merkle baserunning "boner". Harry Pulliam]], the National League President, had ordered the game replayed if the teams otherwise ended the season in a tie, and after disgruntled Giants fans had set fire to the Polo Grounds stands the morning of the game, the Giants lost to the Cubs, who went on to win their second consecutive World Series. That post-season game was further darkened by a story that someone on the Giants had attempted to bribe umpire Bill Klem. This could have been a disastrous scandal for baseball, but because Klem was honest and the Giants lost the duel between Christy Mathewson and Mordecai "Three-Fingered" Brown 4-2, it faded over time.
The Giants experienced a mixture of success and hard luck in the early 1910s, losing three straight World Series in 1911–13 to the A's, Red Sox and A's again. Two seasons later, both the Giants and the A's, decimated by the short-lived Federal League signings of many of their stars, finished in eighth [last] place. After losing the 1917 Series to the Chicago White Sox (the last Chisox Series win until 2005), the Giants played in four straight World Series in the early 1920s, winning the first two over their Polo Grounds tenants, the Yankees who won the first two of their many pennants and were led by young slugger Babe Ruth, then losing to the Yankees in 1923 after Yankee Stadium had opened that May. They also lost in 1924, when the Washington Senators won their only World Series in D.C.
McGraw handed over the team to Bill Terry after the 1932 season, and Terry played for and managed the Giants for ten years, winning three pennants, defeating the Senators in the 1933 World Series but swept by the Yankees in consecutive fall classics, 1936 and 1937. Aside from Terry himself, the other stars of the era were slugger Mel Ott and southpaw hurler Carl Hubbell. Known as "King Carl" and "The Meal Ticket", Hubbell gained fame in the first two innings of the 1934 All-Star Game, coincidentally played at the Polo Grounds, by striking out five future AL Hall of Famers in a row: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin.
Ott succeeded Terry as manager in 1942, but the war years proved to be difficult for the Giants. Midway during the 1948 season Leo Durocher left as Dodgers skipper to manage the Giants, not without controversy. Not only was such a midseason managerial switch unprecedented, but Durocher had been accused of gambling in 1947 and subsequently suspended for that whole season by Commissioner Happy Chandler. Durocher's ensuing eight full seasons managing the Giants proved some of the most memorable for their fans, particularly because of the arrival of five-tool superstar Willie Mays, their two pennants in 1951 and 1954, their unexpected sweep of the powerful (111-43) Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series, and arguably the two most famous plays in Giants history.
The "Shot Heard 'Round the World", or Bobby Thomson's come-from-behind ninth-inning walk-off home run that won the National League pennant for the Giants over their bitter rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers, in the deciding game of a three-game playoff series ending one of baseball's most memorable pennant races. The Giants had been 13 1/2 games behind the league-leading Dodgers in August, but under Durocher's guidance and with a 16-game winning streak, got hot and caught the Dodgers to tie for the lead on the next-to-last day of the season.
In Game 1 of the 1954 World Series at the Polo Grounds against the Cleveland Indians Willie Mays made "The Catch", a dramatic over-the-shoulder catch of a fly ball by Vic Wertz after sprinting with his back to the plate on a dead run to deepest center field. At the time the game was tied 2–2 in the eighth inning with runners on first and second and nobody out. Mays caught the ball 450 ft (140 m) from the plate, spun around and threw the ball to the infield keeping the lead runner, Larry Doby, from scoring. Although Doby took third after the catch, he was stranded there and the Giants won 5-2 on Dusty Rhodes' tenth-inning pinch-hit walk-off home run, bringing in 2 other runners.
The underdog Giants went on to sweep the series in four straight games despite the Indians' American League 111-43 regular season. The 1954 World Series title was their last appearance in the World Series as the New York Giants, with the team moving to San Francisco to start the 1958 season.
In addition to Bobby Thomson and Willie Mays, other memorable New York Giants of the 1950s include Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher, coach Herman Franks, Hall of Fame outfielder Monte Irvin, outfielder and runner-up for the 1954 National League batting championship that was won by Willie Mays, Don Mueller, Hall of Fame knuckleball relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, starting pitchers Larry Jansen, Sal Maglie, Jim Hearn, Marv Grissom, Dave Koslo, Don Liddle, Max Lanier, Rubén Gómez and Johnny Antonelli, catcher Wes Westrum, catchers Ray Katt and Sal Yvars, shortstop Alvin Dark, third baseman Hank Thompson, first baseman Whitey Lockman, second basemen Davey Williams and Eddie Stanky, outfielder-pitcher Clint Hartung and utility men Bill Rigney, Daryl Spencer, Bobby Hofman and 1954 Series hero Dusty Rhodes, among others. In the late 1950s and after the move to San Francisco two Hall of Fame first basemen, Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey, joined the team.
The Giants' final three years in New York City were unmemorable. They reached third place the year after the World Series win in 1954 after which attendance fell off precipitously. While seeking a new stadium to replace the crumbling Polo Grounds the owners began to contemplate a move from New York, initially considering Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, which was home to their top farm team, the Minneapolis Millers. Under the rules of the time the Giants' ownership of the Millers gave them priority rights to a major league team in the area. The Washington Senators wound up there as the Minnesota Twins in 1961.
At that time, the Giants were approached by San Francisco mayor George Christopher. Despite objections from shareholders such as Joan Whitney Payson, majority owner Horace Stoneham entered into negotiations with San Francisco officials around the same time the Dodgers' owner Walter O'Malley was courting the city of Los Angeles. O'Malley had been told that the Dodgers could not move to Los Angeles unless a second team moved to California. He pushed Stoneham toward relocation, and so in the summer of 1957 both the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers announced their moves to California, ending the three-team golden age of baseball in New York City.
New York remained a one-team town with the New York Yankees until 1962, when Payson founded the New York Mets and brought National League baseball back to the city. Owners Payson and M. Donald Grant, who became the Mets' chairman, had been the only Giants board members to vote against the Giants' move to California. The "NY" script on the Giants' caps and the orange trim on their uniforms, along with the blue background used by the Dodgers, was adopted by the Mets, honoring their New York National League forebears with a blend of Giants orange and Dodgers blue.
As with the New York years, the Giants' fortune in San Francisco has been mixed. Though recently the club has enjoyed sustained success there have also been prolonged stretches of mediocrity along with two instances when the club's ownership threatened to move the team away from San Francisco.
When the Giants moved to San Francisco, they played in Seals Stadium for their first two seasons. The stadium, located at 16th & Bryant Streets across from Stempel's Bakery, had been the home of the Pacific Coast League San Francisco Seals in their last years the AAA minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, 1931–1957. In 1958, first-baseman Orlando Cepeda won Rookie of the Year honors. In 1959, Willie McCovey won the same award.
In 1960, the Giants moved to Candlestick Park, nicknamed "The 'Stick", a stadium built on Candlestick Point in San Francisco's southeast corner overlooking San Francisco Bay. The new stadium quickly became known for its strong, swirling winds, cold temperatures and thick evening fog that made for a formidable experience for brave fans and players, as well as its built-in radiant heating system which did not work. Candlestick's reputation was sealed in the ninth inning of the first 1961 All-Star Game (two All-Star Games per season were played from 1959 to 1962) when after a day of calm conditions the winds picked up and a strong gust caused Giants relief pitcher Stu Miller to slip off the pitching rubber during his delivery, resulting in a balk, and a baseball legend that Miller was "blown off the mound". Despite the event, the National League won the game.
In 1962 after another memorable pennant chase with the Dodgers which resulted in a second three-game playoff series with the Dodgers, which the Giants again won by coming from behind with four runs in the ninth inning of Game 3, the Giants brought a World Series to San Francisco only to lose it four games to three to the New York Yankees. The seventh game went to the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Yankees ahead 1–0. With Matty Alou on first base and two out, Willie Mays sliced a double down the right field line. Right fielder Roger Maris quickly got to the ball and rifled a throw to the infield preventing Alou from scoring the tying run and keeping him at third base.
With Mays on second, well known for his speed, any base hit by the next batter Willie McCovey would likely have won the series for the Giants. McCovey hit a line drive right at second baseman Bobby Richardson who caught it after taking one step, bringing the game and series to a sudden end. Earlier in the inning, a failed sacrifice bunt by Felipe Alou with nobody out had ultimately kept his brother Matty—who couldn't advance to second—from scoring on Mays' two-out double. Finally, Richardson was not originally well-positioned to catch the drive until he moved three steps to his left in reaction to a McCovey's foul smash on the preceding pitch.
Giants fan (and resident of nearby Santa Rosa) Charles Schulz made a reference to the real world in one of his Peanuts comic strips soon afterward. In the first three panels of his 12/22/62 strip, Charlie Brown and Linus are sitting on a porch step, looking glum. In the last panel, Charlie Brown cried to the heavens, "Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?" Some weeks later, the same scene reappeared in the strip with Charlie Brown exclaiming, "Or why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just TWO feet higher?"
Although the Giants did not play in another World Series until 1989, the teams of the 1960s continued to be pennant contenders thanks to several future Hall-of-Famers. These included Gaylord Perry, who pitched a no-hitter with the Giants in 1968; Juan Marichal, a pitcher with a memorable high-kicking delivery; McCovey, who won the National League MVP award in 1969, and Mays, who hit his 600th career home run in 1969. A Giants highlight came in 1963 when Jesús Alou joined the team, and along with Felipe and Matty, for one late inning of one game, formed the first all-brother outfield in major league history. In 1967, pitcher Mike McCormick became the first Giants Cy Young Award winner.
The Giants' next appearance in the postseason came in 1971. After winning their division, they were defeated in the League Championship Series by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Roberto Clemente, who then went on to beat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series four games to three.
In 1972, the field at Candlestick Park was converted from grass to Astroturf.
During this decade, the Giants gave up many players who became successful elsewhere, including Garry Maddox, George Foster, Dave Kingman and Gaylord Perry. Two Giants became Rookies of the Year – outfielder Gary Matthews Sr. in 1973 and no-hit pitcher John Montefusco in 1975.
In 1976 Bob Lurie bought the team, saving it from being moved to Toronto. Toronto was awarded an expansion team called the Blue Jays, but San Francisco baseball fans' worries about losing their beloved Giants had not completely gone away just yet. The rest of the 1970s was a generally disappointing time for the Giants, as they finished no higher than third place in any season. This was in 1978, thanks to young star slugger Jack Clark, veteran slugging first baseman Willie McCovey, star hitter second baseman Bill Madlock who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs, shortstops Johnnie LeMaster and Roger Metzger, and slugging third baseman Darrell Evans. Veteran pitchers Vida Blue, John Montefusco, Ed Halicki and Bob Knepper rounded out the starting rotation with Vida Blue leading the way with eighteen victories. The most memorable moment of that 1978 season occurred on May 28, 1978. With the Giants trailing 3-1 in the sixth inning, pinch hitter Mike Ivie, acquired from the San Diego Padres during the offseason for Derrel Thomas, hit a towering grand slam off of Dodgers pitching ace Don Sutton before Candlestick Park's highest paid attendance of 58,545. They led the National League West for most of the season until slugger Dusty Baker, rookie pitcher Bob Welch and the rest of the Dodgers got hot late, winning the West and then beating the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series for the pennant.
The field at Candlestick was converted back to natural grass for the 1979 season.
In 1981, the Giants became the first National League team to hire a black manager, Frank Robinson, although he lasted less than four years and was generally unsuccessful. The Giants finished a game over .500 in the strike-shortened 1981 season. The next season, the Giants acquired veterans Joe Morgan and Reggie Smith, got hot late and ended up in a three-team pennant race with the Dodgers and Braves. The day after the Dodgers eliminated them, Morgan hit a homer against the Dodgers on the last day of the season, giving the NL West to Atlanta.
In 1984, the Giants hosted the All-Star Game for the second and last time at Candlestick Park, which the NL won as it did at Candlestick in 1961 when Stu Miller was blown off the mound by a gust of wind.
In 1985, owner Bob Lurie threatened to move the team out of the city of San Francisco to another location in the San Francisco Bay Area. Locations under consideration were Redwood City, San Jose, and Milpitas.
The 1985 Giants lost 100 games, the most in franchise history, under unsuccessful rookie manager Jim Davenport, and Lurie responded by hiring Al Rosen as general manager and Roger Craig as field manager. Rosen began in 1986 by bringing up promising rookies such as Will Clark and Robby Thompson, which inspired the promotional radio jingle "Ya gotta watch these Giants! You gotta like these kids!!" and followed up in 1987 with canny trades for stars like Kevin Mitchell, Dave Dravecky, Candy Maldonado, and Rick Reuschel.
Craig, renowned as the "Humm Baby" because he often said it, managed the Giants from late 1985 to 1992. In his first five full seasons with the Giants, the team had winning records. The Giants won 83 games in 1986 and won the National League Western Division title in 1987, losing the 1987 National League Championship Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. The one bright spot in that defeat was their slugging outfielder Jeffrey Leonard, who was named the Most Valuable Player for the series in a losing effort. In Leonard's own faltering words, the prize money ($50,000) meant nothing to him, but only the win that eluded him and his team. He would have given anything to be going up north to play the Minnesota Twins, and his former teammate outfielder Dan Gladden, traded to the Twins at the start of the season, in the 1987 World Series.
Although the team used fifteen different starting pitchers in the regular season, the 1989 Giants won the National League pennant. They were led by 1989 National League All-Star Game starting pitcher Rick Reuschel, closer and 1989 National League ERA leader Scott Garrelts, 1989 National League Most Valuable Player Kevin Mitchell, and Will Clark.
The Giants beat the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series, four games to one. In Game 1, first baseman Will Clark hit a grand slam off Greg Maddux in the fourth inning after reading Maddux's lips telling his catcher which pitch he was going to throw. In Game 5, Clark, who was the Most Valuable Player in the series for batting .650 with eight RBIs, came through in the clutch with a bases-loaded, two-out single off hard-throwing lefty closer Mitch Williams to break a 1–1 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs in the top of the 9th inning, Giants closer Steve Bedrosian gave up three straight singles and a run before getting the dangerous Ryne Sandberg on a harmless first-pitch groundout straight to Robby Thompson at second, who threw easily to Clark for the final out, stranding the tying run at second, as longtime Giants radio voice Hank Greenwald proclaimed, "27 years of waiting have come to an end. The Giants have won the pennant!"
After dispatching the Cubs four games to one, the Giants faced the Oakland Athletics in the unforgettable "Bay Bridge Series", best remembered by the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake which struck at 5:04 p.m. just before the scheduled Game 3 at Candlestick Park. After a ten-day delay, Oakland finished its sweep of the Giants, winning Games 3 & 4 at San Francisco. The Giants never led in any of the games, and never even managed to send the tying run to the plate against A's closer Dennis Eckersley in their last at-bat of Game 4.
The Giants and A's had played three World Series before when John McGraw's Giants were in New York and Connie Mack's A's were in Philadelphia, the Giants winning in 1905 on Christy Mathewson's record three complete-game shutouts and the A's in 1911 & 1913 behind Home Run Baker and Eddie Collins.
In the wake of that disappointing 1989 World Series sweep, a local ballot initiative to fund a new stadium in San Francisco failed, threatening the franchise's future in the city. After the 1992 season, owner Bob Lurie, who had previously saved the franchise from moving to Toronto in 1976, put the team up for sale. A group of investors from St. Petersburg led by Vince Naimoli reached an agreement to purchase the team and move them to the Tampa Bay area, but the National League owners voted against the acquisition. Wally Haas, the owner of the Oakland Athletics at the time, agreed to grant the Giants exclusive rights to the South Bay so the Giants could explore all potential local sites for a new stadium and at least help to keep the team in the Bay Area. The team was instead sold to an ownership group including managing general partner Peter Magowan, former CEO of supermarket chain Safeway, and Harmon and Sue Burns.
In addition to the anticipated move to downtown San Francisco, the Giants' ownership also made a major personnel move to solidify fan support. Before even hiring a new general manager or officially being approved as the new managing general partner, Magowan signed superstar slugger free agent Barry Bonds away from the Pittsburgh Pirates, a move which was initially blocked by Major League Baseball until terms were negotiated to protect Lurie and Bonds in case the sale failed.
The Barry Bonds era began auspiciously as Bonds put up the numbers for the third MVP of his career: 46 home runs, 129 runs, 123 runs batted in, .336 batting average, .458 on-base percentage, .677 slugging percentage, 1.135 on base plus slugging. All exceeded his numbers from previous years. Matt Williams excelled as well (38 home runs, 110 runs batted in, .294 batting average), with veterans Robby Thompson and Will Clark, the latter in his last season with the Giants, providing additional offensive support. John Burkett and Bill Swift won more than twenty games apiece, and closer Rod Beck was dominant with 48 saves and a 2.16 ERA. All this led the Giants to a 103–59 record in Dusty Baker's first year as manager, which earned him the Manager of the Year award. But despite the Giants' great record, the Atlanta Braves — fueled by solid seasons from David Justice, Ron Gant, Deion Sanders and their key midseason acquisition of Fred McGriff from the San Diego Padres — came back from a ten-game deficit to pass the Giants win the NL West by a single game. The Braves also had two 20+-game winners, Tom Glavine and Cy Young Award-winning Greg Maddux.
Desperately needing a win against the Dodgers in the final game of the year to force a one-game playoff with the Braves in San Francisco, the controversial choice of rookie pitcher Salomón Torres proved disastrous for the Giants as he gave up three runs in the first four innings of a 12–1 rout. The only other rested Giants starter, Scott Sanderson, was not chosen because he was considered a fly-ball pitcher and the Dodgers were a fly-ball-hitting team. After the major leagues' establishment of the three-division playoff format with a fourth wild card entry after the 1993 season, New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson captured the feeling of many baseball purists regarding the thrilling – and for Giants fans, heartbreaking – winner-take-all outcome of the last two-division National League West when he characterized the 1993 National League regular season as "the last pure pennant race."
The 1994 to 1996 seasons were not good for the Giants, punctuated by the strike that canceled the rest of the 1994 baseball season and the World Series. The strike denied Matt Williams a chance to beat Roger Maris's single season home run record: He had 43 home runs in the Giants' first 115, and was thus on pace for 60 when the strike hit with 47 games left to play. But the rest of the team wasn't as good as their two sluggers, with no other player having even 10 home runs or even 40 RBI that late into the season although they were still in contention, not far from the division lead, when the strike ended play in mid-August. When Commissioner Bud Selig refused to budge in negotiations with the owners, a radio sports talk-show host quipped, "Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo couldn't cancel the World Series [in World War II], but Selig did!"
The Giants finished a dismal last in both 1995 and 1996, crippled by key injuries and slumps. 1995 had a strange feeling about it, with many fans not coming back after the strike-shortened 1994 season, something that kept attendances notably lower until the McGwire-Sosa record-breaking home run chase of 1998. Bonds continued as the Giants' driving force, posting fantastic numbers, with the highest WAR among position players in the National League (33 HR, 104 RBI, 109 R and 120 BB in 144 games). Matt Williams and Glenallen Hill were the only other Giants with at least 20 home runs, and the rest of the team had mediocre offensive numbers. The pitching staff was poor, with Mark Leiter leading the way with ten wins, going 10–12 with a 3.82 earned run average. Closer Rod Beck had 33 saves but nine blown saves and a 4.45 earned run average.
1996 was highlighted by Bonds' joining the 40–40 club as only the second member, after the A's José Canseco in 1988, with 42 home runs and 40 stolen bases, along with 129 runs batted in, 151 walks, and a .308 batting average. Rookie Bill Mueller also provided hope for the future of the club with a .330 average, with 66 hits in 200 at bats over 55 games. The pitching was scarcely better than in 1995. Only Mark Gardner had more than 10 wins, going 12–7 with a 4.42 earned run average, and Rod Beck had 35 saves and a 3.34 ERA but nine losses and the rest of the bullpen was woeful. The low point came in late June when the Giants, after surging to three games over .500 and second place in the National League West, lost 10 straight games en route to a 68–94 record. Their long-time radio voice, Hank Greenwald, retired after the season.
After three consecutive losing seasons, the Giants named Brian Sabean as their new general manager for 1997, replacing Bob Quinn. Sabean may have been acting as GM even before the announcement, and was rumored to have engineered the deal to get southpaw starter Kirk Rueter from the Montreal Expos. His tenure began with controversy. In his first official trade, he shocked Giants fans by trading Matt Williams to Cleveland for what newspapers referred to as a 'bunch of spare parts', with a negative reaction great enough for him to explain publicly, "I didn't get to this point by being an idiot... I'm sitting here telling you there is a plan."
Sabean was proven right: The Giants acquired for Williams — slugging second baseman Jeff Kent, shortstop José Vizcaíno and bullpen setup man Julián Tavárez, along with Joe Roa and the $1 million in cash that enabled them to sign center fielder and leadoff hitter Darryl Hamilton — and a subsequent trade with Anaheim for clutch-hitting, slick-fielding first baseman J.T. Snow – turned out to be major contributors, leading the Giants to their first National League West title of the decade in 1997. Snow, Kent, and Bonds each had over 100 runs batted in, and pitcher Shawn Estes' 19 wins against only 5 losses led the team. Rod Beck had his usual fine season with 37 saves.
1997 also saw the introduction of interleague play to major league baseball, with the division-winning Giants going 10-6 against the four American League West teams: Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Anaheim Angels and Oakland A's. On June 12 the Giants beat the Rangers 4-3 in the first regular season interleague game in major league history. But the wild-card Florida Marlins ended the Giants' season with a 3–0 sweep in the first round of the playoffs.
In 1998, the Giants were fueled by good seasons from sluggers Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds, both with 30+ HR and 100+ RBI, and from starters Kirk Rueter (16–9 W-L record, 4.36 ERA), Mark Gardner (13–6, 4.33) and newly acquired Orel Hershiser (11–10, 4.41). New closer Robb Nen had 40 saves. A hot September stretch tied them for the NL wild card, but they lost a one-game playoff at Chicago's Wrigley Field.
1999: Final season at Candlestick Park
1999 saw the Giants finish second in the NL West with an 86–76 record. Barry Bonds's production dropped as he hit .262, his lowest average in a decade. He did, however, hit 34 home runs even though he missed more than a third of the season due to injury, and other team regulars put up very good supporting numbers including Snow, Kent, shortstop Rich Aurilia and outfielder Ellis Burks, all with 20+ HR and 80+ RBI. Marvin Benard also had a career year in center field with 16 home runs, 64 RBIs and a career- and team-high 27 stolen bases. The pitching staff was paced by Russ Ortiz (18–9, 3.81) and Kirk Rueter (15–10, 5.41).
With the knowledge that their days in Candlestick Park were numbered, the 1999 season ended with a series of promotions and tributes. After the final game of the season, a loss to the Dodgers, home plate was ceremoniously removed and taken by CHP helicopter to the new grounds where the downtown stadium was being built. (Candlestick Park remained the home of the San Francisco 49ers football team through the 2013 season.)
In 2000, after 40 years, the Giants bade farewell to Candlestick Park and, as long advocated, moved into a privately financed downtown stadium (AT&T Park, originally Pacific or "Pac" Bell Park and later renamed SBC Park) on that part of the shoreline of China Basin known to Giants fans as McCovey Cove, at the corner of 3rd and King Streets (with an official address of 24 Willie Mays Plaza in honor of the longtime Giants superstar), ushering in a new era for the Giants and their fans.
The Giants routinely sell out their new nearly 43,000-seat state-of-the-art stadium built for the 21st century, whereas paltry paid attendances of less than 10,000 were not uncommon in Candlestick despite its nearly 60,000 seating capacity, although by the 1999 season the Giants did manage to draw about 25,000 fans per game. The team in its striking new location annually vies for highest MLB season attendance in contrast to often having had the lowest attendance in the NL (or close to it) previously. Still quite breezy in summer compared to other MLB parks, AT&T Park has been a consensus success despite its reputation as a "pitcher's park" stingy for power hitters. Its state-of-the-art design minimizes wind-chill, it is well served by mass transit and has spectacular views of the bay and the city skyline, traits all lacking at Candlestick especially after it was redesigned in the early 1970s to accommodate the NFL 49ers. AT&T Park is the centerpiece of a renaissance in San Francisco's South Beach and Mission Bay neighborhoods, known for what has been called sustainable design.
Despite inaugural game festivities at the new ballpark, the Dodgers spoiled the 2000 season opener with an unexpected three-HR outburst by little-known, light-hitting shortstop Kevin Elster. But the Giants rebounded after losing their first six games in their new home with a solid effort all season long, culminating with not only the NL West Division title but the best record in the major leagues. Kent paced the attack with clutch hits (33 HR, 125 RBI) en route to being elected MVP over runner-up Bonds with 49 HR & 106 RBI. The pitching staff was not great but certainly decent, five starters earning at least ten wins: Liván Hernández (17–11, 3.75), Russ Ortíz (14–12, 5.01), Kirk Rueter (11–9, 3.96), Shawn Estes (15–6, 4.26) and Mark Gardner (11–7, 4.05). Closer Robb Nen was nearly perfect, with 41 saves and a minute 1.50 ERA.
The Giants lost the 2000 division series to the New York Mets three games to one after a solid win in Game 1 on the postseason clutch pitching of Liván Hernández. But the Mets won the next three games despite decent starts by Estes, Ortíz and Mark Gardner. Game 2 in particular ended tumultuously but disappointingly. Down 4–1 in the ninth, Snow smacked a three-run home run to tie the game; but the Mets won in the tenth with a run off Félix Rodríguez, Bonds making the last out, stranding two runners, on a controversial called third strike.
In 2001, the Giants were eliminated from playoff contention on the next-to-last day of the season. Slugging shortstop Rich Aurilia put up stellar numbers (37 HR, 97 RBI, .324 BA) in support of Bonds, who once again gave fans something to cheer about with his single-season record 73 home runs, surpassing Mark McGwire's 70 in 1998. The pitching staff was good but not great, with Russ Ortíz (17–9, 3.29) leading a staff that also had Liván Hernández (13–15, 5.24) and Kirk Rueter (14–12, 4.42). Shawn Estes and Mark Gardner had subpar years, but a notable late-season acquisition from the Pirates was superstar starter Jason Schmidt (7–1, 3.39). Robb Nen continued as a dominant closer (45 saves, 3.01 ERA).
2002: National League Championship season and World Series
In 2002, the Giants finished second in the NL West behind the Arizona Diamondbacks, bolstered by another MVP season for Bonds (46 HR, 110 RBI, .370 BA, a then-record 198 walks and a .582 OBP) and Kent (37 HR, 108 RBI and .313 BA). Additional roster support was provided by decent seasons from veteran catcher Benito Santiago and Aurilia, aided by new acquisitions third baseman David Bell, slugging outfielder Reggie Sanders and fleet-footed outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo, (generally known by last name only), who spent only one season with the Giants before returning to Japan. The pitching staff again proved solid, with five starters winning 12 or more including Jason Schmidt in his first full season in San Francisco. Closer Robb Nen had 43 saves and a 2.20 ERA, and setup men Felix Rodríguez and Tim Worrell were solid out of the bullpen.
The Giants made the playoffs as the NL wild card in the last weekend of the season. They began by defeating the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS three games to two, with Ortíz winning Games 1 and 5 in Atlanta. With the tying runs on base in the bottom of the 9th inning, Snow ending the deciding game with a spectacular double play ending in a rundown between first and second.
In the NLCS, they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals four games to one with wins by Rueter, Schmidt and two by Worrell in relief. Santiago, particularly for his late clutch game-turning and -winning home run in Game 4, was elected MVP of the NLCS.
The Giants then faced the American League champion Anaheim Angels (now known as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) in the World Series, marking the first World Series between two wild-card teams. The Giants split the first two (one-run) games in Anaheim, were beaten 10-4 by the visiting Angels in Game 3, then won Games 4 & 5 in Pac Bell Park, 4-3 and 16-4. The Series shifted back to Anaheim for Game 6. With the Giants leading the Series three-games-to-two and leading 5-0 with one out in the bottom of the 7th inning, manager Dusty Baker removed starter Russ Ortíz after he gave up two straight singles and handed him what Baker hoped would be the "game ball" as he walked off the mound. Moments later, after fouling off numerous fastballs, the Angels' Scott Spiezio hit a three-run home run off reliever Félix Rodríguez. The Giants' closer Robb Nen, pitching "on fumes and guts" with an injured right shoulder, gave up an eighth-inning two-run double to Troy Glaus, who was the Most Valuable Player for the series, and the Angels won the game 6–5 and capture the momentum in the Series. The following night, Anaheim cruised to a 4–1 victory behind an early three-run double by Garret Anderson off Hernández to claim the Series.
After 2002, the Giants went through many personnel changes. Baker's managerial contract was not renewed after ten seasons. Closer Nen's damaged shoulder ended his career, forcing him into early retirement; and Kent, moving on to the Houston Astros in his native Texas, was not re-signed. He had aroused front-office ire earlier in the season with an off-field injury when he fell off the roof of his vehicle while shining it, and by getting into a public scrap with Bonds in the dugout in the middle of a game. Position players David Bell, Reggie Sanders, Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Kenny Lofton, as well as pitchers Liván Hernández, Russ Ortiz and southpaw reliever Aaron Fultz (winner of 2002 World Series Game 4), all went to other teams in 2003 as well.
2003: Wire to wire
In the 2003 season the Giants, under new manager Felipe Alou, won 100 games for the seventh time in franchise history and the third time in San Francisco, winning their division for the third time in seven seasons and spending every day of the season in first place, the ninth team to accomplish that feat in baseball history. Their offense was paced by yet another MVP season from Bonds (45 HR, 90 RBI, .341 BA, 148 BB and an OBP of .529). Decent offensive support was provided by Rich Aurilia, Marquis Grissom, José Cruz Jr., Edgardo Alfonzo, Benito Santiago, Pedro Felíz and Andrés Galarrága. The pitching staff was led by Jason Schmidt (17–5, 2.34 ERA) and Kirk Rueter (10–5, 4.53), but dropped off after that, no other starter earning ten wins.
Once again in the playoffs, and just like in 1997, the Giants faced the eventual-world-champion Florida Marlins in the NLDS. Schmidt won Game 1 in San Francisco with a low-scoring complete game outdueling Josh Beckett; but the Marlins won the next three games, and the series three games to one, as the Giants bullpen faltered after Game 2 starter Sidney Ponson imploded, blowing a big early Giants lead. As usually reliable outfielder Fred Snodgrass blew the deciding game of the 1912 World Series on the road with the Giants one run ahead going into the last of the tenth with a notorious "muff" of a fly ball by the leadoff hitter ending with the home team Boston Red Sox scoring two runs for a come-from-behind walk-off win, exactly the same scenario happened in the last of the tenth in Florida in Game 3 of the 2003 NLDS with a muff of another easy leadoff fly ball by otherwise slick-fielding José Cruz, Jr, ending with Iván Rodríguez's two-out, two-run, come-from-behind bases-loaded walk-off win for the Marlins off closer Tim Worrell.
2004–06: Playoff drought
In 2004, Bonds broke his own records with 232 walks and a .609 OBP en route to his 7th and last NL MVP award (45 HR, 101 RBI, .362 BA). The team also had a solid but not stellar supporting cast including Marquís Grissom (22, 90, .279) and Pedro Felíz (22, 84, .276), along with decent hitting by Ray Durham, Edgárdo Alfónzo, Michael Tucker and AJ Pierzynski. Jason Schmidt was the star of the staff (18–7, 3.20 ERA, 251 SO), but the team was constantly looking for a new closer (Matt Herges and Dustin Hermanson sharing the role during the season). After sitting out most of the first half of the season with an injury, Snow led the league in hitting after the All-Star Break.
The Giants' 2005 season was the least successful of the decade in their new stadium. Bonds missed almost the entire season with a knee injury, erratic closer Armando Benítez was injured for four months, and ace Jason Schmidt struggled after numerous injuries. But management took advantage of the off-year to give playing time to numerous young players, including pitchers Noah Lowry, Brad Hennessey, Kevin Correia, Scott Munter, Matt Cain and Jeremy Accardo, as well as first baseman Lance Niekro and outfielders Jason Ellison and Todd Linden. The acquisition of veteran outfield contact hitter Randy Winn from the Seattle Mariners was invaluable in the stretch run.
On May 25, the Giants held a celebration for Baseball Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. A statue of Marichál was dedicated on the plaza outside the stadium. Leonel Fernández, the President of the Dominican Republic, attended. In the two games following the ceremonies, the Giants wore uniforms with the word GIGANTES (Spanish for "Giants") on the front of their jerseys. On July 14, 2005, the franchise won its 10,000th game, defeating their longtime rival Dodgers, 4–3 and thereby becoming the first professional sports franchise to have a five-figure win total.
On September 28, the Giants were officially eliminated from the NL West race after losing to the division champion San Diego Padres, finishing a distant third at 75–87, their worst, and first losing, season since 1996. Despite the disappointing finish, the Giants extended manager Felipe Alou's contract for another year.
The Giants were expected to contend in 2006 with a strong starting staff. Despite a losing streak in May, and the worst batting performance by Barry Bonds in about 15 years the Giants did contend in the less-than-stellar Western Division and by July 23 were in first place. A 3–16 stretch ensued, with nine one-run losses, and combined with a season-ending eight losses in nine games, the team finished in third place with a 76–85 record.
On October 2, 2006, the day after the end of the regular season, the Giants announced that they would not renew manager Felipe Alou's contract but still offer him the opportunity to stay with them in an advisory role to the general manager and to baseball operations.
2007–09: Losing ways and milestones
2007: End of the Bonds era
With eleven free agents (excluding Jason Schmidt) who signed with the Dodgers for roughly $15 million a year, a new manager on board (Bruce Bochy, division rival San Diego manager since the mid-1990s who left the Padres to manage the Giants), and the loss of veteran catcher Mike Matheny due to complications (cumulative trauma) resulting from concussions sustained during his career, the Giants' prospects for the 2007 season were less than favorable as 2006 came to an end. They then made several deals, re-signing infielders Pedro Feliz, Ray Durham and longtime fan favorite Rich Aurilia, and picking up catcher Bengie Molina, slugger Ryan Klesko and outfielder Dave Roberts. They also signed free-agent pitcher Barry Zito to a lucrative seven-year contract worth $126 million with an $18 million option for an eighth year, the richest pitcher's contract in baseball history at the time. On January 9, 2007, they re-signed pitcher Russ Ortiz to compete for the fifth starting position in spring training, which he won by late March due to his outstanding spring.
They got off to a slow start in the regular season, with spurts of promise but more often stretches of mediocre play at best. Pitching was often inconsistent or the offense nonexistent (such as in a pair of 1–0 losses for young star starter Matt Cain, for whom lack of run support was a frequent problem).
The season was memorable in some regards, such as the Giants – Red Sox series in Fenway Park, their first appearance there since they lost the deciding game of the 1912 World Series with two errors in the last of the tenth after scoring a go-ahead run in the top of the tenth, and their hosting of the 2007 MLB All-Star Game. Much more notable, however, was Bonds' march toward Hank Aaron's 755 career home run record that brought heavy media attention to the San Francisco Giants.
Leading off in the top of the second before a sellout crowd at Petco Park in San Diego in Game 2 of that series, Bonds hit a high fastball off the facing of the upper deck in left field for an off-field jack, tying the score at 1-1 and Aaron at 755, although they lost 3-2 in extra innings. In the bottom of the fifth at home against the Washington Nationals on the night of August 7, he smashed number 756 into the deep center field bleachers, causing a melee in the crowd scrambling for the ball, which later earned six figures at auction for the young man who came up with it. Aaron, appearing on the big screen, congratulated him personally, but the luckless Giants lost the game, 8-6.
On August 9, 2007, left-handed pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for AA second baseman Travis Denker, marking the first trade between the Giants and the Dodgers since 1985.
The 2007 season continued discouraging for the Giants, with solid pitching but often without run support. Rookie starter Tim Lincecum, for instance, held the Chicago Cubs to two hits through eight innings on August 21, but the team scored only one run in a 5-1 loss.
On September 22, 2007, the Giants officially announced they would not re-sign Barry Bonds for the 2008 season. After much speculation and debate, owner Peter Magowan announced Bonds' departure at a press conference, stressing the need for youth and offense throughout the lineup.
Bonds played the last game of his career on September 26, 2007. He went 0 for 3, driving a ball that was caught at the warning track in left-center field in his final at-bat and then leaving on his own although he had another at-bat coming had he stayed in the game.
2008: Without Bonds and golden anniversary
2008, the 51st season for the Giants in San Francisco, was their first without Barry Bonds since 1992. Their first big move was to sign gutsy Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Aaron Rowand to a 5-year, $60 million contract. Barry Zito, in his second year as a Giant, once again got off to a poor start, losing his first eight decisions; but the team found hope with Tim Lincecum in his first full season. After going 7–5 as a rookie in 2007, he exploded as a sophomore starter, winning four straight before his first loss on April 29, 2008, to the Colorado Rockies. Lincecum was selected to the 2008 MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, but was hospitalized with flulike symptoms and couldn't pitch in the midsummer classic. He soon recovered, however, and even went on to win the 2008 NL Cy Young Award, finishing at 18–5 and becoming the first Giant to win that prestigious trophy since Mike McCormick won it in 1967. The Giants finished the season in fourth place in the NL West with a record of 72–90.
2009: A mix of old & new and a no-hitter
During the 2008-09 off-season, the Giants strengthened their pitching staff with veteran starting pitcher Randy Johnson and relievers Bob Howry and Jeremy Affeldt. They also signed infielders Édgar Rentería and Juan Uribe. Bill Neukom also became the new managing partner. Despite lingering questions about their struggling offense, they were a surprising 49–39 by the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, good enough for second place in the NL West.
In addition to the Giants' overall performance as a team, the first half of 2009 was memorable for several individuals: Johnson became the 24th major league pitcher to win 300 games, and phenomally gifted but perpetually struggling young southpaw starter Jonathan Sánchez tossed a nearly perfect no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on July 10 (the only Padre baserunner reached on Juan Uribe's late infield error, following the distant footsteps of Giants immortal Christy Mathewson, whose 1905 no-no was blemished by only two errors), the first Giants no-hitter since 1976. Incredibly, Sánchez accomplished his feat spot-starting in place of injured Randy Johnson and returning to the rotation after a brief demotion to the bullpen, striking out a career-high eleven hitters to boot. It was his first major league complete game and shutout, on only 110 pitches for an 8-0 Giants romp, and the first no-hitter ever thrown at AT&T Park. In fact, 2009's starting rotation was one of the strongest in Giants history, two of whom went to the All-Star Game including successfully defending Cy Young champ Tim Lincecum, who started the game. He won his second straight NL Cy Young Award even though he won only 15 games in 2009, finishing at 15-7, becoming the only pitcher to capture the Cy Young Award in each of his first two full major league seasons.
But tragically on July 19, Sue Burns, the team's senior general partner who was a virtual fixture in her seat adjacent to the Giants' dugout, died early that Sunday morning of cancer. She was the widow of Harmon Burns, a Bay area financier who was a key member of the investor group that had saved the team from moving to Tampa at the end of the 1992 season. The Giants honored her with a pregame ceremony with Barry Bonds in attendance.
On July 20, the Giants traded one of their top prospects, AA pitcher Tim Alderson, for Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Freddy Sánchez. Alderson was the first round pick in the 2007 draft and was ranked prospect number four in the Giants' organization by Baseball America, but Sánchez provided a much needed jump for their offense, batting .293 with 41 RBI and 22 walks for the season. On September 11, the Giants added another key player when they brought up their first-round draft pick, young catcher Buster Posey, from their AAA affiliate the Fresno Grizzlies.
Although the 2009 Giants finished only 14 games above .500, they won 16 more games than in 2008. With the emergence of star slugger Pablo Sandoval to provide solid offensive support for their dominant pitching staff, they looked forward to making the playoffs next year for the first time since 2003.
2010–2016: A dynasty emerges
2010: First Championship in San Francisco
At the start of the 2010 season, (Jim Caple of ESPN.com was the only baseball writer or pundit to pick the Giants to reach the World Series, although he later recanted his pick before the National League Championship Series, saying the Philadelphia Phillies would beat the Giants and advance to the World Series. Most did not expect San Francisco even to make the playoffs.
The Giants won the National League Western Division for the first time since 2003, after trailing the San Diego Padres for most of the season. In the 2010 National League Division Series, the Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves three games to one. In the 2010 National League Championship Series, the Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 4–2, and advanced to face the Texas Rangers in the 2010 World Series.
Behind Tim Lincecum, the Giants wrapped up the World Series with a 3-1 Game 5 win for their first world championship in San Francisco and the first for the Giants franchise since 1954. Édgar Rentería was named World Series Most Valuable Player.
The championship firsts were:Giants:
First world championship since 1954, while still in New York.
First world championship since the move to San Francisco in 1958.
City of San Francisco:
First World Series championship.
First major sports championship since the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIX in January 1995.
San Francisco Bay Area:
First World Series championship since the Oakland Athletics swept the Giants in 1989.
First major sports world championship since the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIX.
With their victory in the 2010 World Series, the Giants also became the second Major League Baseball team (after the St. Louis Cardinals) to win a world championship in three different centuries: 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s.
On November 15, 2010, Giants' catcher Buster Posey was named NL Rookie of the Year.
2011: Back to square one
2011 began on a dark note when Giants fan paramedic Bryan Stow suffered a life-threatening head injury and was permanently disabled in an attack by two Dodgers fans in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot on Opening Day after they had insulted and threatened him in the stands during the game. Further tragedy ensued on May 25 in extra innings when Florida utility man Scott Cousins crashed into the Giants' Rookie of the Year catcher Buster Posey as he slid home with the eventual Marlin winning run, fracturing Posey's ankle and ending his season. San Francisco finished the 2011 season with an 86–76 record, winding up in second place in the NL West eight games behind the division-winning Arizona Diamondbacks for lack of hitting and other key injuries (such as to second baseman Freddy Sánchez in late May shortly before Posey's injury, and to closer Brian Wilson in August).
2012: Champions again
The Giants started the season playing barely above .500, trailing the Dodgers in second place for most of the first half of the season and falling to 7.5 games back near the end of May. But a June 17–10 record by the Giants (including a home sweep of the Dodgers) while the Dodgers slumped to 11–17 put the Giants as division leaders ahead by one game at the end of the month. On June 13, Matt Cain pitched the first perfect game in the 130-year history of the franchise, against the Houston Astros, at AT&T Park. The Giants and Dodgers continued to trade places at the top until August 20, at which point another sweep of the Dodgers gave the Giants the lead for good.
Melky Cabrera was named the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game, while Matt Cain was the starting and winning pitcher and Sandoval became the first player in All-Star Game history to hit a bases-loaded triple. At the trade deadline, the Giants acquired right fielder Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies and second baseman Marco Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies. On August 15, Cabrera was suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Despite the loss of Cabrera and the Dodgers making several blockbuster trades, the Giants still won the 2012 NL West Division, led by Scútaro's 20-game hit streak in the last twenty games of the regular season for a .306 average and NL MVP-to-be Buster Posey's league-leading .336.
In the 2012 NLDS, the Giants became the first NL team to come back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Cincinnati Reds in three straight games, and were also the first major league team to take a best-of-five postseason series by winning the last three on the road. The St. Louis Cardinals won three out of the first four games in the 2012 NLCS. The Giants won the next three games to advance to the 2012 World Series, and Scútaro was chosen MVP of the NLCS with his .500 average. The Giants finished a 4-0 sweep over the Tigers for their seventh all-time World Series title, and their second in the previous three years. Pablo Sandoval, who hit home runs in his first three at-bats in Game 1, and had a .500 average in the World Series, was named the World Series MVP.
2013: Inconsistent struggles
Early in the 2013 season, the Giants were in first place in the National League West. However, in May, during a road trip to Toronto, the Giants began a slide into last place. They struggled both offensively and defensively due to several players being injured throughout the season, most notably Ángel Pagán, who suffered a hamstring injury mid-season and was out for 12 weeks, and were no-hit against the Cincinnati Reds. Buster Posey, who had won the previous year's National League batting title, experienced a significant drop-off, hitting just 15 home runs (and just two in the second half of the season) and slumping to a .294 average. Although the Giants won the season series over every team in their own division, including going 11-8 over the rival Dodgers, who won the division, they went only 32-54 outside of their division, including an MLB second worst 6-14 record in inter-league play, with their only season series victory outside of the National League West being over the Atlanta Braves. In several series, the Giants scored 5 runs or fewer, such as against the Red Sox (outscored 21-4, lost series 2-1), against the Yankees (outscored 12-3, lost series 2-1), against the Cardinals in St. Louis (outscored 17-5, lost series 2-1), against the Blue Jays in San Francisco (outscored 5-2, split series 1-1), and against the Cubs in San Francisco (outscored 6-3, swept). This slide lasted until mid-August when the Giants began to play efficiently again (highlighted by a 19-3 romp over the rival Dodgers in Los Angeles) and ended the season in a tie for 3rd place with the San Diego Padres after a brief resurgence. At the conclusion of the season the Giants also signed right fielder Hunter Pence to a five-year, $90 million contract. The Giants finished the 2013 season with a 76-86 record. The Giants' .469 record marked their first losing record since 2008 and one of the worst records ever for a team that had won the World Series the previous year, behind only the 1998 Florida Marlins.
One notable highlight was Tim Lincecum throwing his first no-hitter against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park in a 9-0 victory. A notable oddity happened during a doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds on July 23 in which the Reds were the designated home team for Game 2 even though the Giants were playing at home. The Reds won Game 1, 9-3, and the Giants prevailed in Game 2, 5-3.
2014: Third World Series Championship in San Francisco
The Giants acquired outfielder Michael Morse and starting pitcher Tim Hudson in the offseason. At one point, the Giants had twice as many wins as they had losses, sporting a 42-21 record. However, their 9.5 game lead over the Dodgers dissipated. Lincecum pitched his second no-hitter, also against the Padres. With a won-loss record of 12-9, Lincecum achieved more wins than his previous 2 seasons, though second-half struggles put Lincecum out of the starting rotation.
The Giants finished the season with an 88-74 record, the first time in baseball's modern era that they had reached the postseason with under 90 wins. The Giants defeated the Pirates in the 2014 National League Wild Card Game, 8-0, with Bumgarner pitching a complete game and Crawford hitting a grand slam off of Pirates starter Edinson Vólquez, the first in MLB postseason history by a shortstop. The Giants won the 2014 NLDS, defeating the Nationals and passing the Cincinnati Reds' Big Red Machine for a new National League record in consecutive postseason victories. The Giants played the Cardinals in the 2014 NLCS rematch, winning in five games. Travis Ishikawa hit a game winning walk-off 3 run homer in game 5. Madison Bumgarner was named MVP of the series. The Giants faced the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 World Series, defeating the AL Champions in 7 games, winning 4 games to 3. Madison Bumgarner was also named the World Series MVP.
The championship was the Giants' third in a five-year span, spurring debate over whether the Giants could be considered a modern-day baseball dynasty.
2015: Odd year curse
During the 2015 offseason, the Giants lost two key contributors, Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse, who both became free agents and signed with the Boston Red Sox and the Miami Marlins respectively. After Sandoval's departure, there was talk of moving Buster Posey to third base, Sandoval's position. Marco Scutaro, the Giants injury-plagued second baseman, was also released, with Joe Panik taking his position. Over the offseason, Giants dealt for Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki to replace Sandoval and Morse respectively, avoided arbitration with Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, resigned Sergio Romo and Jake Peavy, had free-agent Ryan Vogelsong come back, and looked forward to the returns of Matt Cain and Ángel Pagán. Despite the team remaining mostly the same, some concerns existed. The rotation was one of the oldest in the major leagues, and except for Madison Bumgarner, no starting pitcher ended with a winning record in 2014. Many believed McGehee and Aoki couldn't make up for the power lost from the departures Sandoval and Morse. However, the Giants remained in high hopes entering 2015, looking to break the odd-year "curse" established in 2011 and 2013.
Indeed, the season began poorly for the team, and included an eight-game losing streak. However, a home sweep of the archrival Dodgers lifted the Giants' outlook, and an additional sweep of the Los Angeles Angels in the opening days of May, with Lincecum winning the final game of the series, further improved their prospects. By mid-May the team welcomed Hunter Pence, who had broken his arm in spring training, back to the lineup, with a fine debut performance in a lopsided win in Cincinnati. The victory gave the Giants a winning record and another boost to their morale. On June 9, 2015, Chris Heston pitched the 17th no-hitter in Giants history against the New York Mets, making 110 pitches, striking out 11 including three called strikeouts in the 9th inning, with the only baserunners being 3 hit batsmen. Heston also had two hits and drove in two runs in the game. The no-hitter was the third by a Giants rookie and the first by a visiting pitcher at Citi Field.
On June 15, 2015 the Giants set a record for most consecutive home losses at AT&T Park at nine straight games with a 5-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners. This losing streak was the Giants' longest since an 11-game home loss streak at the Polo Grounds in New York in 1940.
Despite the injury bug hitting hard again (with Aoki, Pagan, Pence, Panik, and newly acquired Leake suffering extended in-season injuries), the Giants remained deep in the playoff hunt, due to contributions by rookies Chris Heston and Matt Duffy, as well as Buster Posey's MVP-like season. However, with Hunter Pence out again with an oblique strain in the middle of a brutal stretch in the schedule, the Giants faced a major uphill battle. They acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd to deal with Pagan and Pence's absences; he made an immediate impact, almost hitting for the cycle in a 6-4 win against the Wild Card-leading Pirates. However, the Giants still finished 84-78 and missed the playoffs.
2016: End of even year dynasty
In 2016, the Giants started off strong, ending their first half at the All-Star break with the best record in the majors at 57-33. However, due to a struggling bullpen in the second half, they just barely qualified for the 2016 postseason in the 2nd NL Wild Card spot. In the process they blew an 8-game lead to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, who were missing star pitcher Clayton Kershaw for 2 1/2 months. The Giants' run at even year championships ended with a game 4 loss to the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs in the 2016 NLDS. In Game 4, the Giants led 5–2 before they were eliminated after allowing four runs to the Cubs in the 9th. They previously held an MLB-record 10-game winning streak when facing elimination in the postseason. Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Buster Posey all received Gold Glove awards at the close of the season.
2017: Quest to break the odd year curse
On December 6, 2016, the Giants signed closer Mark Melancon to a 4-year, $62 million contract. The deal was briefly the largest in MLB history for a relief pitcher, until the signing of Aroldis Chapman to the New York Yankees for 5 years, $86 million later that offseason.
The Giants' rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers dates back to when the two teams were based in New York, as does their rivalry with the New York Yankees. Their rivalry with the Oakland Athletics dates back to when the Giants were in New York and the A's were in Philadelphia and played each other in the 1905, 1911, & 1913 World Series, and was renewed in 1968 when the Athletics moved from Kansas City and the teams again played each other in the earthquake-interrupted 1989 Bay Bridge World Series. The 2010 NLCS inaugurated a Giants rivalry with the Philadelphia Phillies after confrontations between Jonathan Sánchez and Chase Utley, and between Ramón Ramírez and Shane Victorino. However, with the Philadelphia Phillies dropping off as one of the premier teams of the National League, this rivalry has died down since 2010 and 2011. Another rivalry that has intensified recently is with the St. Louis Cardinals, whom the team has faced 4 times in the NLCS.
The rivalry between the New York Giants and Chicago Cubs in the early twentieth century had been universally regarded as one of the most heated in baseball, with Merkle's Boner leading to a 1908 season-ending matchup in New York of particular note. That historical rivalry was revisited in their one-game playoff in Chicago at the end of the 1998 season, and on June 6, 2012 in a "Turn Back The Century" game in which both teams wore replica 1912 uniforms.
The Giants-Dodgers rivalry is one of the greatest and longest-standing rivalries in team sports, and has been regarded as the most intense in American baseball.
The Giants-Dodgers feud began in the late 19th century when both clubs were based in New York City, with the Dodgers based in Brooklyn and the Giants playing at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan. After the 1957 season, Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley decided to move the team to Los Angeles primarily for financial reasons. Along the way, he managed to convince Giants owner Horace Stoneham (who was considering moving his team to Minnesota) to preserve the rivalry by taking his team to San Francisco as well. New York baseball fans were stunned and heartbroken by the move. Given that the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have long been competitors in economic, cultural and political arenas, their new California venues became fertile ground for transplantation of the ancient rivalry.
Both teams' having endured for over a century while leaping across an entire continent, as well as the rivalry's growth from cross-city to cross-state, have led to its being considered one of the greatest in sports history.
The Giants-Dodgers rivalry has been marked by the Giants' slightly better success. While the Giants have more total wins, head-to-head wins, National League pennants and World Series titles in their franchise histories, the Dodgers have won the National League West 5 more times than the Giants since the start of division play in 1969. Both teams have made the postseason as a National League wild card twice. The Giants won their first world championship in California in 2010, while the Dodgers won their last world title in 1988. As of the end of the 2014 baseball season, the Los Angeles Dodgers lead the San Francisco Giants in California World Series triumphs, 5-3, whereas in 20th century New York, the Giants led the Dodgers in World Series championships, 5-1. The combined franchise histories give the Giants an 8-6 edge in MLB championships, overall.
A geographic rivalry with the cross-Bay American League Athletics greatly increased with the 1989 World Series, nicknamed the "Battle of the Bay", which Oakland swept (and which was interrupted by the Loma Prieta earthquake moments before the scheduled start of Game 3 in San Francisco). In addition, the introduction of interleague play in 1997 has pitted the two teams against each other for usually six games every season since 1997, three in each city (but only four in 2013, two in each city). Before 1997, they played each other only in Cactus League spring training. Their interleague play wins and losses (53-50 in favor of the A's after a Giants sweep of an interleague series from July 24–26, 2015) have been fairly evenly divided despite differences in league, style of play, stadium, payroll, fan base stereotypes, media coverage and World Series records, all of which have heightened the rivalry in recent years. The intensity of the rivalry and how it is understood varies among Bay Area fans. A's fans generally view the Giants as a hated rival, while Giants fans generally view the A's as a friendly rival much lower on the scale. This is most likely due to the A's lack of a historical rival, while the Giants have their heated rivalry with the Dodgers. Some Bay Area fans are fans of both teams. The "split hats" that feature the logos of both teams best embodies the shared fan base. Other Bay Area fans view the competition between the two teams as a "friendly rivalry", with little actual hatred compared to similar ones such as the Subway Series (New York Mets vs. New York Yankees), the Red Line Series (Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox) and the Freeway Series (Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).
The Giants and A's enjoyed a limited rivalry at the start of the 20th century before the Yankees began to dominate after the acquisition of Babe Ruth in 1920, when the Giants were in New York and the A's were in Philadelphia. The teams were managed by legendary leaders John McGraw and Connie Mack, who were considered not only friendly rivals but the premier managers during that era, especially in view of their longevity (Mack for 50 years, McGraw for 30) since both were majority owners. Each team played in five of the first 15 World Series (tying them with the Red Sox and Cubs for most World Series appearances during that time period). As the New York Giants and the Philadelphia A's, they met in three World Series, with the Giants winning in 1905 and the A's in 1911 & 1913. After becoming the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's, they met in a fourth Series in 1989 resulting in the A's last world championship (as of 2014).
Though in different leagues, the Giants have also been historical rivals of the Yankees, starting in New York before the Giants moved to the West Coast. Before the institution of interleague play in 1997, the two teams had little opportunity to play each other except in seven World Series: 1921, 1922, 1923, 1936, 1937, 1951 and 1962, the Yankees winning last five of the seven Series. The teams have met twice in regular season interleague play as of the end of the 2012 season: in 2002 at old Yankee Stadium, and in 2007 at AT&T Park.
The teams met again in late September 2013, with Alex Rodriguez hitting a Grand Slam in game 2, breaking Lou Gehrig's grand slam record.
In his July 4, 1939 farewell speech ending with the renowned "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth", Yankee slugger Lou Gehrig, who played in 2,130 consecutive games, declared that the Giants were a team he "would give his right arm to beat, and vice versa."
As of 2012, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame has inducted 66 representatives of the Giants (55 players and 11 managers) into the Hall of Fame, more than any other team in the history of baseball.
The following inducted members of the Hall of Fame played or managed for the Giants, but either played for the Giants and were inducted as a manager having never managed the Giants, or managed the Giants and were inducted as a player having never played for the Giants:Cap Anson – inducted as player, managed Giants in 1898.
Hughie Jennings – inducted as player, managed Giants from 1924 to 1925.
Bill McKechnie – inducted as manager, played for Giants in 1916.
Frank Robinson – inducted as player, managed Giants from 1981 to 1984.
Casey Stengel – inducted as manager, played for Giants from 1921 to 1923.
Broadcasters Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, and Jon Miller are permanently honored in the Hall's "Scribes & Mikemen" exhibit as a result of winning the Ford C. Frick Award in 1980, 2004, and 2010 respectively. As with all Frick Award winners, none are officially recognized as an inducted member of the Hall of Fame.
The Giants have retired ten numbers in the history of the franchise, most recently Monte Irvin's number 20 in 2010.
* Retired throughout the major leagues; Robinson actually was traded to the Giants, but retired before playing a game for them.
Of the Giants whose numbers have been retired, all have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1944, Carl Hubbell (#11) became the first National Leaguer to have his number retired by his team. Bill Terry (#3), Mel Ott (#4), and Hubbell played and/or managed their entire careers for the New York Giants. Willie Mays (#24) began his career in New York, moving with the Giants to San Francisco in 1958; he did not play in most of 1952 and all of 1953 due to his service in the Korean War.
Although not officially retired, the team has not reissued number 25 since Barry Bonds left the team following the 2007 season.
John McGraw (3B, 1902–06; Manager, 1902–32) and Christy Mathewson (P, 1900–16), who were members of the New York Giants before the introduction of uniform numbers, have the letters "NY" displayed in place of a number.
Broadcasters Lon Simmons (1958–73, 1976–78, 1996–2002 & 2006), Russ Hodges (1949–70), and Jon Miller (1997–current) are each represented by an old-style radio microphone displayed in place of a number.
The Giants present the Willie Mac Award annually to the player that best exemplifies the spirit and leadership shown by Willie McCovey throughout his career.Jack Doyle 1902
Larry Doyle 1908–1916
Gus Mancuso 1937–1938
Mel Ott 1939–1947
Alvin Dark 1950–1956
Willie Mays 1961–1972
Willie McCovey 1977–1980
Darrell Evans 1980–1983
Jack Clark 1984
All-time regular season record: 10,951— 9,415 (.538) (through 2016 season)
Giants' television telecasts are split between NBC-owned KNTV (broadcast) and Comcast SportsNet (CSN) Bay Area (cable). KNTV's broadcast contract with the Giants began in 2008, one year after the team and KTVU mutually ended a relationship that dated to 1961. Jon Miller regularly calls the action on KNTV, while the announcing team for CSN telecasts is Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, affectionately known as "Kruk and Kuip" (pronounced "Kruke" and "Kype"). On September 4, 2010, Miller made his first appearance with CSN Bay Area. Dave Flemming fills in on select TV broadcasts.
The Giants' flagship radio station is KNBR (680 AM). KNBR's owner, Cumulus Media, is a limited partner in San Francisco Baseball Associates LP, the owner of the team. Miller and Flemming are the regular play-by-play announcers. When games are televised on KNTV, Kuiper replaces Miller on the radio, and Miller goes to television. During a July 23–25, 2010, road game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Fresno Grizzlies broadcaster Doug Greenwald filled in so that Miller could travel to Cooperstown to be honored with the Ford C. Frick Award. J.T. Snow also sat in so that Flemming could also attend the award presentation.
On May 28, 2006, Flemming called the 715th career home run of Barry Bonds, which moved Bonds into second on the all-time home run list. Unfortunately, the power from Flemming's microphone to the transmitter cut off while the ball was in flight, so the radio audience heard only crowd noise. Greg Papa took over the broadcast and apologized to listeners. Kuiper's TV call was submitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame as an artifact, instead of the usual radio call.