- Hardcover: 156 pages
- Publisher: Abbeville Press; 1 edition (February 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1558593799
- ISBN-13: 978-1558593794
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,365,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Giants: Memories and Memorabilia from a Century of Baseball Hardcover – February 1, 1993
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Whether in New York or San Francisco the Giants have never ceased to dazzle. Bobby Thompson's "shot heard 'round the world" and "the catch" by Willie Mays will forever be on highlight reels and the names of John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and Willie McCovey will endure in the hall of fame. Memorabilia from all the great Giant moments has been assembled into this enthralling tribute to a giant of a team.--D.G. McDonald
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I don't remember why, but for some reason, I decided at the time that I would not actually open up the book and read it until after the Giants won a World Series.
Eleven years and a lifetime of heartbreak later, I realize that the Giants will win a World Series on the day after the Messiah comes riding into Jerusalem on a white donkey, blowing his shofar.
I recently found the book again and realized that I would never get to read it if I actually waited as long as I had originally intended so I just finished it.
One of the reasons why it's an interesting read is because it's written at the dawn of a new age in Giants history - on the heels of the aborted sale and move of the franchise to Tampa Bay, Florida and the subsequent purchase of the contractual services of one Barry Lamar Bonds. So you can probably take almost all of the franchise batting records that are listed at the back of the book and throw them to the wind.
And speaking of the wind, the book also predates by a few years the relocation of home field from Candlestick Park - termed by Bruce Jenkins as "the great wind machine" - to Pacific Bell Park in the heart of downtown San Francisco. Candlestick Park was much maligned as a baseball field in its time, but it looks quite magnificent in the photographs that the authors include in the text. And as they point out, it held up to the 1989 Series earthquake. Fans and reporters who diss Candlestick today are weather wimps and ingrates.
The book is a retrospective of Giants history starting in 1885 from their magnificent beginning as the New York Gothams ("My big fellow! My Giants!", owner Jim Mutrie is supposed to have triumphantly exclaimed, according to legend, after one particularly satisfying victory) to the glory days in the first 30 years of the 20th century under Manager John McGraw, King Carl Hubbell, Bill Terry, and Mel Ott to the lean years of the 1940's when the war depleted their roster to rebirth and redemption in the 1950's - courtesy (in large part) of Leo Durocher, Bobby Thomson, and Willie Mays - even as economic considerations were moving both the Giants and their historical rivals, the Dodgers, inexorably away from New York and toward the West Coast.
The 1950's might have even been more glorious on the field if the Korean War hadn't exacted two years of military obligation from Willie Mays and if Monte Irvin hadn't broken his leg in a pre-season 1952 exhibition game.
The book also captures the empty glory of the Giants San Francisco history - a lot of great teams; a lot of great players; a lot of close calls and nothing left at the end of any season but a collapsed one-horse shay. The authors perfectly summarize the history of the 1960's Giants with the observation, "It may be that no team has ever had so much talent and worked so hard and come away with so little to show for it".
Little did the authors know that, ten years after they wrote those words, they could be recycled to describe the Giants of the 1990's and 2000's. The substantive questions that they ask at the end of the book about the team's future can now be answered, "No."
The book's feature point is its collection of historical photographs, including, for example, a 1914 Cracker Jack card of Christy Mathewson, an art deco photographic cover of the 1933 World Series (Giants-Senators) program, and a 1952 program, on the cover of which Durocher reads to a cherubic Giant player the story of "The Little Miracle of Coogan's Bluff", and much much more. Having this book is the next best thing to owning your own souvenir shop.
As for the writing, it is flawed in some instances and brilliant in others. The description of the end of the 1962 World Series is so agonizingly good that I can't read it again. On the other hand, the authors several times commit the Giant mistake of saying that the team almost moved to Minnesota in 1976. While the relocation of the Giants and Dodgers to Minneapolis and St. Paul had been considered in the 1950's, in 1976, Minnesota was (and still is) barely able to support the Twins, let alone a second major league team. It was Toronto that the Giants almost moved to, having been tentatively sold to LaBatt's Brewery. LaBatt's eventually bought the Blue Jays, who would bring two world championships to the city of Toronto. It makes one think.
And while 1974-1985, as the authors say, was almost entirely a dismal chapter in the team's history, the one exception to that was the scrappy band of overachievers, led by Vida Blue, Jack Clark, Willie McCovey and Mike Ivie that made a serious run at a vastly more talented Dodger team in 1978. If John "The Count" Montefusco (for accuracy's sake, his nickname contained one letter too many) could have replicated his 1975 and 1976 performances in 1978, the team could have pulled it off. Failure to even mention the 1978 team is a glaring omission (there is one 1979 photograph of Jack Clark sliding home).
Failing to mention the 1982 team -- the one that contended into the final week of the season and ultimately took away (thanks largely to Joe Morgan) the satisfaction of playing "spoiler" to the Dodgers -- was also a glaring omission.
And - it's not the authors' fault - but while Will Clark's place in Giant history of the late 1980's must be acknowledged, referring to him as a possible future Hall of Famer now seems laughable in retrospect. And his endorsement of the book on its back cover - "This is a must for all Giants fans, past and present" - turns out to be a bitterly ironical demerit.
Some of Slick Will's more cynical critics now wish that he had taken more of an interest in the Giants during the last season that he played for them.
If anybody knows how to contact Bruce Chadwick or David M. Spindel then please forward their contact info. right away. (650.988.9290) or firstname.lastname@example.org