Crawford, Giants fans share 'a lot of love' in '23 finale

Longtime SF shortstop receives big ovation in potential final game with club

October 2nd, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- ’s day began like so many others over his 13 seasons with the Giants. 

He stuck with his usual pregame routine, taking grounders at shortstop from longtime coach Ron Wotus. He drew cheers from throngs of fans, stopping to sign autographs for as many kids as he could. He continued his tradition of compiling a special playlist for Game 162, handpicking walk-up songs for each of his teammates. 

But this day also carried an air of finality, with Crawford likely making his final appearance with his hometown club in the Giants’ 5-2 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon at Oracle Park.

Left-hander Kyle Harrison worked five no-hit innings and third baseman Casey Schmitt delivered his first career multihomer game, but the center of attention remained Crawford, who was showered with ovations from the minute he jogged out to the field in the top of the first and assumed the position he’s manned for a franchise-record 1,617 games.

The 36-year-old veteran went 0-for-4 out of the leadoff spot and received an emotional sendoff in the top of the ninth, when he convened on the mound with interim manager Kai Correa and hugged his teammates before walking back to the Giants’ dugout to a rousing standing ovation from the 38,359 fans in attendance.

“That’s the time when I almost got a little emotional and held it back,” Crawford said. “A little overwhelming. I still have to probably take some time to process all of it. It’s just a lot of love, and I appreciate all of it.”

Crawford’s four young kids -- Braylyn, Jaydyn, Braxton and Bryson -- provided another highlight by each throwing out a ceremonial pitch prior to the game. Nine-year-old Jaydyn capped the procession with an impressive gymnastics routine, making several flips on the field before firing the ball to her dad. Crawford and his wife, Jalynne, have a fifth child on the way, a daughter who is due later this month.

Crawford, who is unsigned beyond this season, said he hasn’t decided whether he wants to keep playing and plans to contemplate his future this offseason. He’s been hampered by injuries over the last two seasons and ended the year batting a career-low .194 with a .587 OPS and seven homers over 94 games. 

“I’ll take the time to unwind, think about it a little more, talk to Jalynne,” Crawford said. “We’ll see what kind of interest is out there and figure out the right situation, right answer.”

If this is the end, Crawford is poised to go down as the greatest shortstop in franchise history, a storybook run for a Bay Area kid who grew up dreaming of playing for the Giants. The Pleasanton, Calif., native was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of UCLA and developed into a two-time World Series champion, a three-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner.

He memorably hit a grand slam in his Major League debut against the Brewers on May 27, 2011, and then launched another one to help the Giants win the 2014 National League Wild Card Game against the Pirates at PNC Park. He teamed up with Joe Panik to turn a pivotal double play in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the Royals and emerged as a key catalyst of the Giants’ franchise-record 107-win season in 2021.

“A dream come true doesn’t quite cover it,” Crawford said. “Pretending to be Giants players in the backyard, growing up coming to games. The dream was to play for the Giants, not necessarily to win a couple of World Series and be here for 13 years. Some of the things I’ve been able to accomplish while on the Giants, I never even dreamed of. I’m definitely grateful for the experience and the opportunity. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Aside from a one-inning cameo on the mound earlier this year, Crawford has played exclusively at shortstop, where he repeatedly flashed his uncanny instincts and awareness on the field. The Giants put together a highlight reel of Crawford’s countless web gems and played them on television screens in the clubhouse before the game.

Still, a literal passing of the torch may have taken place Sunday, as highly touted prospect Marco Luciano entered the game to replace Crawford in the top of the ninth. The 22-year-old Luciano will go into the offseason as the most likely candidate to serve as the Giants’ Opening Day shortstop in 2024, especially as the club looks to retool following its disappointing 79-83 record and fourth-place finish in the NL West this year. (Crawford’s pick for Luciano’s walk-up song? “That’s Amore.”)

Crawford himself seemed to say goodbye when he took to the mic to address the crowd after the game. 

“Personally, from the grand slam in Milwaukee to the World Series wins to today, you guys always showed me love,” Crawford said. “My family and I appreciate it so much. You guys are the best.”