NEW YORK -- When the Giants take the field Friday to commence Players' Weekend against the Rangers, they'll do so with a litany of notable nicknames on the back of their specialty, alternate uniforms. Some will be funny, like the one chosen by Hunter Pence ("Underpants" -- "just say my name fast," Pence explains). Some will be worn with a nod to pop culture, like Tony Watson's ("Tone Ranger"). Others still will be considered classics: Madison Bumgarner ("Mad Bum"), Evan Longoria ( "Longo") and Jeff Samardzija ("Shark") chief among them.
But none of the Giants' nicknames touches as many bases as Austin Slater, whose "Mayor" moniker comes in honor of a distinguished American life. Slater's teammates first began calling him "Mayor" not because he has an outsized personality, like former Reds first baseman Sean Casey, also nicknamed "The Mayor," famously does. The name stuck when teammates learned Slater was related to Ed Austin, who was the mayor of Jacksonville, Fla., from 1991-1995. Austin was Slater's maternal grandfather.
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"I would say we're pretty similar, personality-wise," Slater said. "He was a big part of my life growing up."
Slater remembers Austin as his grandfather, the septuagenarian who'd attend travel games in his "normal get-up" of button-down collared shirts, midsummer sun be damned. They'd run errands together, a young Slater in tow when Austin's constituents would greet him at the grocery store. Slater chuckles when realizing his life in the public eye began long before his Major League debut.
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"I don't enjoy the spotlight, but it's a part of my life. That's kind of how he approached it, too, not that he didn't excel in it," Slater said. "It didn't matter what he had going on, he'd stop and talk to them. That's something I tried to carry over into my life."
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Many north Florida locals remember Austin, who died in 2011, for other reasons. His resume is extensive: Austin played football and earned a degree from Duke University in the 1940s, then served as a paratrooper in the Army's 101st Airborne Division. After law school, he was named the first Public Defender for Florida's Fourth Judicial Circuit and rose to State Attorney, serving for 16 years in that role. A career Democrat, Austin switched to the Republican Party during his tenure as mayor. He's been credited with revitalizing the city's downtown neighborhoods behind several urban renewal initiatives during his four years in office, and helping bring the NFL's Jaguars franchise to the city.
"He lived a great life," Slater said. "A really interesting guy."
Stratton recalled, Law optioned
To make room for Tuesday's starter Chris Stratton, the Giants optioned right-hander Derek Law to Triple-A Sacramento. The move comes a day after Law was recalled from Sacramento to provide depth in the Giants' taxed bullpen, which he did admirably in Monday's 13-inning win over the Mets. Law worked the final two innings of the Giants' 2-1 victory, earning his first win of the season.
The right-hander owns a 7.43 ERA in seven appearances at the big league level this season.
"He understands the situation that we're in. He gives us flexibility, having options," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's good to see him come up and have some success, get a win and pitch two big innings in a row. In all honesty, he's had some hiccups when he's been up before."