September 22, 1969: Willie Mays 600th career home run comes in a pinch-hit role with the game tied in the 7th en route to a victory over the Padres
Willie McCovey wins the MVP Award, leading the league in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage, but the Giants finish second for the fifth year in a row.
Another move -- the last one for 40 years -- takes place, as the Giants relocate to what is known at the time as their new gem of a stadium, Candlestick Park.
For the first two years of their tenure in the City by the Bay, the Giants would occupy Seals Stadium, a former minor league ballpark.
Owner Horace Stoneham left New York primarily because the Polo Grounds had inadequate parking and attendance was suffering. But Seals Stadium also lacked parking, so it would only serve as a temporary residence. The city of San Francisco promised to build the Giants a new stadium, and a piece of land on Candlestick Point was chosen as the site for the ballpark.
On April 12, 1960, the Giants first took the field at Candlestick Park. On hand to christen the new stadium were Vice President Richard Nixon, who threw out the first pitch, and Hall of Famer Ty Cobb.
Nixon declared it "the finest ballpark in America," but like most launches, the opening wasn't a perfectly smooth endeavor.
"[Opening Day] was exciting because we had a brand-new ballpark, but it was not without its problems -- wind being one of them," said Mike McCormick, who pitched the second game at Candlestick Park. "I think people were surprised how windy it was.
"There were a lot of design problems -- things were leaking, things weren't working, pipes that weren't right," McCormick said. "Some of the bathrooms didn't work. They had put thermal heat in the concrete under box seats and that didn't work."
The toilet in the Giants' dugout had no door, but one was quickly added once it was noted that fans in some box seats could see into the dugout. In the third inning, the umpires protested the placement of the new park's foul poles, which they claimed were completely in fair territory.
But the flaws could hardly dampen the festive atmosphere that permeated the day. The Giants did their part by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1, behind a three-hitter from Giants starter "Sad" Sam Jones.
The Cardinals' Bill White (who later became president of the National League) had the honor of getting the first hit at Candlestick Park, but fittingly, the first Giants player to get a hit was homegrown star Orlando Cepeda. He smacked a two-run triple in the bottom of the first inning.
On that first sunny day, spirits were high despite the wind, but relief pitcher Stu Miller noted the honeymoon was short-lived.
"Everybody loved Seals Stadium. It was a nice, cozy ballpark," recalled Miller. "But here comes the new ballpark. We thought, 'Oh man!' -- but that didn't last long.
"We said, 'Wait a minute, it's a little windy here,'" Miller said with a chuckle. "We thought maybe the first windy day was an aberration, but after a week, we said, 'It looks like it's going to be that way all the time!'"
Willie Mays continued to be an offensive star despite the winds, cracking 29 homers and driving in 103 runs with a .319 average. Mays, Cepeda and Willie McCovey were joined by another future Hall of Famer when Juan Marichal made his debut midseason with a one-hit shutout against the Phillies.
Willie Mays smacks four home runs in one game at Milwaukee's County Stadium. He is also chosen to start in the outfield for the All-Star Game, held at San Francisco's new ballpark.
Just one year after opening their new ballpark at Candlestick Point, the Giants played host to the Midsummer Classic, the first All-Star Game of 1961.
It was the third year of a four-year experiment in which Major League Baseball played two All-Star games each season. The second game that year was held three weeks later in Boston.
The National League All-Stars had taken both games in 1960, and with Milwaukee's Warren Spahn taking the hill to start the '61 game, it looked like the Nationals might continue their dominance. For the first five innings, Spahn and the Reds' Bob Purkey held the American League stars hitless and didn't walk anyone.
Meanwhile, National League batters had put two runs on the board. The American League broke through in the sixth when Minnesota's Harmon Killebrew tagged the Giants' Mike McCormick with the only hit he would give up -- a solo home run, the Americans' first hit of the game.
When the Cubs' George Altman homered in the eighth to put the National League on top by a score of 3-1 (and with the American League having mustered only one hit), it looked like the game was just about over.
The American League managed to scratch out a run in the ninth to narrow the score to 3-2. With two men on base, the Giants' Stu Miller became a legendary part of Candlestick lore.
"The flag was straight down. But around the seventh inning, the flag started to flutter. By the eighth inning, it was blowing straight out. It turned out to be the best day and the worst day. I had never seen the wind blow that hard.
"By the time I got in there, it had gotten worse. I came in and anchored myself. There was a man on first and second with one out. Before I threw a pitch, I went into a stretch position and then there was an extra gust of wind and I just wavered a bit," Miller said.
No balk was called until the American League players started yelling at the umpires for a call. So Miller threw a slow curve to batter Rocky Colavito, who swung and missed. The American League players hollered some more and the umps convened to make the balk call, advancing the two runners.
"I don't think any of the fans knew what happened. They were probably wondering why the hell did those runners move up," Miller said. "Anyhow, the next day in the papers the headline says, 'Miller Blown Off Mound.'
"I wonder to this day, why didn't the first-base umpire or the third-base umpire, who was looking right at me, see me do that," Miller said. "I didn't move a helluva lot. The papers made it sound like I was pinned against the center-field fence."
The wind then supposedly blew a grounder out of the reach of the Cardinals' Ken Boyer at third base, allowing the tying run to score on the error.
In the 10th, a Boyer error again almost cost the National League the game. His throw to first flew into the outfield, and the go-ahead run scored from first.
But in the bottom of the inning, knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm of Baltimore (a former Giant) gave up hits to Hank Aaron and Willie Mays to tie the score. Mays then scored the winning run on Roberto Clemente's single, ending the game in a 5-4 National League victory.
Skipper Alvin Dark leads perhaps the greatest team in San Francisco Giants history to its first World Series by the Bay. The team again downs the Dodgers in a three-game playoff and nearly pulls out the championship against the Yankees.
In some ways, the 1962 World Series was anticlimactic compared to the thrilling pennant race with the Los Angeles Dodgers that preceded it. The Giants staged a remarkable comeback after being four games out of first place with seven games remaining to pull into a tie with the Dodgers. With identical records of 101-61, the rivals met in a best-of-three playoff series.
Billy Pierce blanked the Dodgers in Game 1 while Willie Mays drilled two clouts to provide an 8-0 romp at Candlestick. Los Angeles returned home for the second game and plated seven runs in the sixth and won 8-7.
The Giants found themselves trailing 4-2 in the top of the ninth in Game 3. Third baseman Jim Davenport drew a bases-loaded walk to cap a four-run rally that gave San Francisco a 6-4 victory in the decisive game at Los Angeles, earning a ticket to the World Series against the Yankees.
But the team's celebration was kept to a minimum since they had to take a midnight flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco and prepare for Game 1 of the World Series the following day at Candlestick Park.
"We had scrambled so much and then we got into the playoff series with the Dodgers. Then we took two out of three games from the Dodgers," said Davenport. "It did, in a way, take a lot of excitement away from the World Series."
San Francisco fans, however, were exuberant, anxious to see the home team appear in its first World Series. And what a treat they got. In a nail-biting series, the two teams traded victories, neither of them winning two in a row.
"The '62 World Series was so exciting. I went crazy," said Gloria McKay, who worked as an usherette at Candlestick Park since 1960. "I was so excited that I went out and bought a pair of shoes!"
The Yankees jumped out in front first, winning, 6-2, behind lefty Whitey Ford. Yankees third baseman Clete Boyer knocked in a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie.
Giants right-hander Jack Sanford roared back in the second game, tossing a three-hitter and shutting down the Yankees, 2-0. Second baseman Chuck Hiller scored the Giants' first run in the first inning, while Willie McCovey blasted a solo homer in the seventh to lock up the game.
In Game 3, Giants starter Billy Pierce and the Yanks' Bill Stafford pitched shutout ball for six innings at Yankee Stadium. In the end, the Bronx Bombers would prevail, breaking the stalemate with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Giants made a ninth-inning bid by scoring two on Mays' double and Ed Bailey's two-run dinger, but couldn't hold on. They lost 3-2.
The Giants staged another pitching gem as Juan Marichal tossed four innings of scoreless ball against Ford. Unfortunately, the Dominican Dandy left the game after getting hit on the index finger while bunting. The injury sidelined him for the rest of the series.
"I wish I could have finished the game and had the chance to pitch a second game," said a disappointed Marichal. "But that happened and that was it."
The Giants did, however, go on to win the game, 7-3, behind Hiller's grand slam off Yankees right-hander Jim Coates.
In Game 5, the Yankees' Ralph Terry and Sanford dueled to a 2-2 tie after seven innings until the Yanks' Tom Tresh's three-run homer cracked the game open in the eighth. The Giants' 5-3 loss gave the Yankees a one-game advantage and sent the Series back to the 'Stick for Game 6.
Four rain-drenched days put the Series on hold. Desperate to play ball, team officials instructed two helicopters to hover five feet above the wet field. Their hope was that the choppers' powerful propellers would create enough wind to blow dry the soggy surface.
"There was a lot of water settled on the field. They thought, 'If we come in with the helicopters, we could move that water to make it drain better,'" said pitcher Mike McCormick, who didn't play in the Series due to shoulder problems. "It was still bad. I think what it really did was to show the fans and the public that they were doing everything they could to play the game."
Once play got underway, the Giants didn't disappoint. They evened the Series at three-all with a 5-2 victory behind Orlando Cepeda, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Then came the final game -- Game 7. Close to 44,000 fans watched Terry and Sanford take part in an awesome pitching duel. The Yankees' only run scored on Tony Kubek's double-play grounder in the fifth inning. But the Giants threatened to score -- and win -- in the bottom of the ninth inning with a man on second and third with two out and slugger McCovey at the plate.
"I was hoping they would walk him and get to me," said Cepeda, who was on deck.
Terry decided to throw to McCovey. The rest is history. A loud crack from McCovey's bat brought the Giants to their feet, anticipating victory. Terry threw down his glove in disgust. It wasn't until he turned around to see that Bobby Richardson had snagged the hard liner for the final out of the game did he know that the exciting series had come to an end -- in the Yankees' favor.
The Giants, meanwhile, were shocked.
"It happened so quick. It was over in such a split second," Davenport said. "You always think back, 'If the ball had been that much further, we'd have had a championship ring on our fingers.'"
Juan Marichal establishes himself as one of the premier pitchers of all time with a 25-win season, including two of the greatest games ever pitched at Candlestick Park.
On June 15, Juan Marichal etched his name in the history books by pitching the only no-hitter of his career. Not only was he the first player to spin a no-no in San Francisco, the "Dominican Dandy" was the first Latin player to do so in the Major Leagues.
It had been more than 34 years since the last Giants no-hitter when Marichal took the mound against the Houston Colt .45s that day. He had already established himself as capable of pitching gems; his debut three years earlier had been a one-hit, 12-strikeout shutout.
Marichal needed only 89 pitches to finish off Houston, but his teammates were finding it equally difficult to break through on the scoreboard. The game was scoreless into the eighth inning, when Jim Davenport and Chuck Hiller provided the game's lone run with a pair of doubles.
The 1-0 victory was but one highlight of a stellar season for Marichal, who finished with a record of 25-8, a 2.41 ERA and 248 strikeouts. Two weeks after his no-hitter, he would engage in -- and win -- an epic 16-inning pitching duel with the Milwaukee Braves' Warren Spahn.
You couldn't ask for a better faceoff than the one in which Marichal and Spahn battled on July 2 at Candlestick Park. The two All-Star hurlers dazzled 15,921 fans with their fine display of pitching prowess. They matched each other pitch for pitch for 16 scoreless innings, neither one conceding to a reliever.
The standoff was just another example of the amazing arms these two pitchers had. Marichal entered the game with an eight-game win streak and a 12-3 record. He had thrown a no-hitter the previous month. Meanwhile, Spahn, who was then 42 years old, showed no signs of old age; he entered the game with an 11-3 record and five straight victories.
Inning after inning, the two great pitchers dominated each other's lineup. After nine innings, Milwaukee manager Bobby Bragen asked Spahn to come out of the game. Spahn refused. On the other side of the field, Giants manager Alvin Dark also suggested that Marichal give way to the bullpen. Marichal, too, refused.
"A 42-year-old man is still pitching," the 25-year-old Marichal reportedly told Dark. "I can't come out."
As the innings went by, "you couldn't help but get into the game. ... We knew that this was something special," said first baseman Orlando Cepeda, who went 2-for-6 that night. "I'll never forget that game."
The long, cold night game finally came to an end five hours later at 12:31 a.m. when slugger Willie Mays broke up the shutout with a one-out, solo home run in the bottom of the 16th inning.
"It was a long night; we were glad to go home," Cepeda said.
In the end, both pitchers posted stellar numbers: Marichal tossed 16 innings, gave up eight hits and four walks and fanned 11; Spahn surrendered nine hits and one walk and struck out two. Unfortunately for Spahn, that ninth hit was the one that handed the game to the Giants.
Longest Game: The Giants swept New York-NL in a double header that included one of the longest games in Giants history. Juan Marichal threw a complete game in the Giants' 5-3 victory over the Mets in game one. Game two was a 23 inning marathon that lasted seven hours and 23 minutes. With the game tied 6-6 in the top of the 23rd inning, Jim Davenport tripled, Cap Peterson was intentionally walked, Del Crandall recorded a pinch-hit double to score Davenport. Jesus Alou then singled to score Peterson to give the Giants an 8-6 victory.
September 10, 1963: Jesus, Matty and Felipe Alou comprise the first all-brother outfield in Major League history.
September 11, 1964: Masanori Murakami becomes the 1st Japanese player to play in the Major Leagues.
The Giants continue to string together stellar seasons (their second of four in a row with at least 90 wins) only to fall short by two games. Willie Mays wins his second MVP Award.
Lefty Mike McCormick wins the franchise's only Cy Young Award as well as Comeback Player of the Year. Despite Willie McCovey's 31 homers (including three grand slams) and 91 wins, the Giants finish 10 1/2 games behind the remarkable St. Louis Cardinals led by former Giant and NL MVP Orlando Cepeda.
While the team again settles for a runner-up finish, several Giants enjoy dramatic personal achievement, including Gaylord Perry's no-hitter, Juan Marichal's 26 wins and Bobby Bonds' brilliant debut.
With Juan Marichal leading the way with 26 wins and a 2.43 ERA, the Giants' pitching staff established a San Francisco record with a team 2.71 ERA. Bob Bolin, the fifth starter, won 10 games and posted the lowest ERA in San Francisco history at 1.98.
Five years after Marichal had tossed a no-hitter, Gaylord Perry found himself in a defensive struggle against the St. Louis Cardinals. In the first inning, the Giants' Ron Hunt smacked a solo home run off the Cards' legendary Bob Gibson, but San Francisco was held scoreless after that.
Thankfully, Perry picked that day -- Sept. 17, 1968 -- to toss his only no-hitter. It was the 14th victory of Perry's 16-win season, in which he had a 2.44 ERA and pitched 19 complete games.
The euphoria of his accomplishment didn't last long, however. The Cardinals' Ray Washburn stunned the Giants the very next day by pitching a no-hitter of his own.
Offensively, Willie McCovey led the league with 36 home runs and 105 RBIs, and outfielder Bobby Bonds dazzled in his debut, cracking a grand slam for his first-ever hit (fittingly, against the Los Angeles Dodgers). No player had done that in 70 years.
But for the fourth year in a row, the Giants finished in second place, causing manager Herman Franks to retire (as he had promised he would do if the team failed to win the pennant).