Originally established as a National League franchise in 1883, the San Francisco Giants entered the baseball world as the New York Gothams. Two years later, after a particularly inspired victory, manager Jim Mutrie referred to the club as “his Giants,” and the name stuck. Since then, the organization has brought dominance from sea to shining sea.
The early Giants teams in New York were so powerful that the club actually passed on playing in the first-ever World Series in 1904, referring to their AL counterparts as mere minor leaguers. Regardless, the Giants decided to give the Fall Classic a whirl in 1905 and walked away with their first official world championship. Spitfire skipper John McGraw guided the team to that title, and before retiring in 1931, he would lead the Giants to titles again in 1921 and ‘22.
“King Carl” Hubbell would steer the franchise toward yet another world championship in 1933, but it was actually losing the World Series in 1951 that would give Giants the most hope. That season, a young centerfielder named Willie Mays made his debut with the club. As the team cruised to a World Series victory in 1954, “The Say Hey Kid” registered 41 homers, knocked in 118 runs, and was named league MVP. Three years later, the team announced it would be moving to San Francisco and, in doing so, embarked on a new chapter of Giants baseball.
While they wouldn’t add to their trophy case in the ‘60s or ‘70s, the team did see the emergence of two more colossal stars. With nicknames almost as colorful as “The Say Hey Kid,” Willie “Stretch” McCovey and Juan “Dominican Dandy” Marichal quickly played their way into the annals of San Francisco lore. McCovey won Rookie of the Year honors in 1959, nabbed MVP in 1969, and was named NL Comeback Player of the Year in 1977. Marichal, for his part, would win 20 or more games six times in the ‘60s. All three players would be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame and immortalized in statue form outside AT&T Park, the home of the Giants.
As a lasting testament to his 521 career home runs, the waters of San Francisco Bay behind right field are affectionately called McCovey’s Cove. Fans hop into kayaks in an attempt to catch balls rocketing out of the park. In 2001, there may have been more supporters in canoes than in the seats as perennial All-Star Barry Bonds rewrote the history books and set a new single-season record with 73 home runs. Two years later, Bonds would become the first player in history to notch 500 career home runs and 500 stolen bases.
The “blue and windy sea,” “golden sun,” and world championships in 2010, ‘12 and ‘14 have made AT&T Park one of the most electric environments in baseball. Taking inspiration from crooner and adopted son Tony Bennett, the Giants have proven to be a formidable contender in virtually every decade. Some things just never get old.