Sports aren’t for everyone. And baseball, in particular, can be a hard sell. The baseball season has 162 games, and these games feel like they last forever – the players always seem to do a lot of standing around and spitting, never much actual playing.
So why is it the national pastime? Any fan might tell you it’s about the skill of the game – strategy combined with athleticism.
But it’s more than that.
JON MILLER: My dad was a baseball fan, a sports fan, and in those days the games were on the radio. And he always had a ballgame on the radio.
CELINA HARRINGTON: I’ve played sports since the third grade. Used to go to baseball games with my father.
Baseball is something that families and friends can share with one another, regardless of whatever else may be going on in their lives. It’s something that parents enjoy with their kids, passing down their love and loyalty for a team to the next generation.
KYLE TREFNY: From when I first went to one of their games, and it was really fun there. I got a ball, and Tim Lincecum signed it. And since then, I’ve really become a Giants fan.
But the Giants’ magical World Series win in 2010 wasn’t just a victory for lifelong fans, or even sports fans – it was special for everyone. Their World Series run was a great story. It gave everyone in the Bay Area a reason to high-five strangers in the street, even if they’d never watched a baseball game before.
CHILDREN (chanting): Let’s go Giants! (fans cheer)
This is a story about what it means for everyone. For the homegrown fans who have worn orange and black since before they could walk…
JON MILLER: 1962 is when I saw my first game.
BRUCE JENKINS: I've been around here since ‘66, and I’ve followed them extremely closely, so I do go back quite a few years.
ALAN FARLEY: I mean, I haven’t been a Giants fan for 54 years like some people. Only what – 23 years? That’s practically nothing.
…for the transplants who swore off their old home teams when they moved to the Bay. For the bandwagoners, who couldn’t help but get swept up in Giants mania.
ERIN TREFNY: Mmm, well, it was fun. They won. And everybody else was excited, so why shouldn’t I?
DANI DUNLEVY: I saw the hair attached to the Lincecum wigs and the panda hats. It was all of those different items that made me fall in love with the Giants.
ROBERT CARTER: I’m really not a Giants fan, but this year you couldn’t help but be a Giants fan.
We’re going to have some help to tell this tale:
BRUCE JENKINS: My name is Bruce Jenkins. I'm a sports columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle.
JOE BURKE: My name is Joe Burke, morning announcer here on KALW.
DAVINCI: My name is DaVinci, and I’m from here, my home, San Francisco Bay Area. And I’ve been rapping for about six years. Feel me?
GRANT BRISBEE: My name is Grant Brisbee, and I write for McCovey Chronicles.
ALAN FARLEY: My name is Alan Farley, and I’m a producer and announcer at KALW radio.
ASHKON DAVARAN: My name is Ashkon Davaran. And I’m an entertainer.
JON MILLER: My name is Jon Miller. I broadcast Giants baseball on radio and television.
And we’ve got some help from you – the fans – the people who came together, whether they cared about baseball or not.
This is the story of the underdog team that was always pushing the envelope when it came to fashion, to nicknames and to hairstyles … on their faces! It’s the story of a ragtag group of veterans, rookies, and relative nobodies who rose to the occasion to bring home their first World Series trophy. This is the story of the San Francisco Giants.
So who are the San Francisco Giants? Let’s go ahead and meet them as they take the field for Game 5 of the World Series. Manager Bruce Bochy has made a makeshift lineup in practically every playoff game, and Game 5 is no exception.
JON MILLER: “This is the lineup for the epic Game 5.”
Along with the music they walk up to the plate with, here are your San Francisco Giants:
JON MILLER: “Andres Torres, leading off, in right field.”
A 31-year-old rookie, who languished 10 years in the minor leagues. But he is fast.
BRUCE JENKINS: Andres Torres is basically a track runner. When you watch him run with the pumping of the arms he looks exactly like an Olympic sprinter. A great athlete, incredibly humble, very, very grateful to have had a rebirth in the game. He's extremely grateful to be where he is and he's made the most of it. A real, real burst of energy from that guy, on the field and off.
JON MILLER: “Freddy Sanchez, 2nd base.”
An oft-injured former batting champ who never played for a winning team.
BRUCE JENKINS: Freddy Sanchez grew up as a Dodger fan. A real intense Dodger fan. And when he came to the Giants it was against his will – he was traded. It wasn't a free agent choice that he made. It freaked him out, it really did. He had a really hard time believing that he was wearing the other team’s uniform, the Giants uniform. The dreaded Giants. The hated Giants. And he gradually got over that, and by the end of the season, he was as valuable hitter as they had on the team.
JON MILLER: Buster Posey. We didn’t know it then, but he was Rookie of the Year. I think we felt like we knew it. He was the catcher, hitting third.
BRUCE JENKINS: For this kid to arrive in such a fashion so early in his career and basically take over … he took over the team in the sense that if you'd ask guys "Who's the one guy you'd want up there in the top of the ninth, and you're down two with two guys on,” most of the guys, if not all, would've said, “Posey.” They would’ve thought about it and they would’ve gone…
GRANT BRISBEE: Buster Posey. Just because you can really kind of separate the season into before Buster Posey was the starting catcher, and after. And after Buster Posey was the starting catcher, the Giants were amazing.
BRUCE JENKINS:And then he goes behind the plate and catches this, this pitching staff. You know it's a complex assignment. So he's in charge of that and then he comes up with this cannon-throwing arm where he shuts down this other team’s running game. It was dreamlike. And you know he's a very humble guy. So he's basically not real, I would say. That's not a real person.
JON MILLER: Cody Ross, in left field, hitting cleanup. The man who began the postseason hitting seventh, eighth in the order, hitting cleanup for the first time as a Giant.
Quite a turnaround. Ross was waived – basically fired – mid-season by the Florida Marlins.
BRUCE JENKINS: Yeah, Cody Ross was crushed to be leaving Florida because it was a team that he, not necessarily embraced as the team he wanted to play for for the rest of his life, but just that the team had given up on him. And he went right into the, to the front offices and confronted a couple, I don't know if it was the general manager, but he said basically, "You have made a huge mistake here." And he actually started crying. Not like sobbing, but tears were coming out of his eyes. “You've made a huge mistake here.” And they did. They did make a huge mistake. He's a guy who, he's completely fearless. He wanted to be a rodeo clown, or be in the rodeo. And he really did, you know he just wanted to get out there and have a horse buck him four rows deep into the seats.
JON MILLER: “Juan Uribe, 3rd base, hitting fifth.”
BRUCE JENKINS: Juan Uribe is absolutely invaluable. He's a real cheerful guy. He's so in love with the game, he loves everything about it. He loves getting there early and hanging out with the guys, telling jokes. He was a big, uh, really one of the kingpins of the Hispanic group, which is huge – they have probably 10 or 12 Hispanic guys on the team. Played wherever, whenever, at whatever moment.
JON MILLER: “Aubrey Huff, at 1st base, hitting sixth.”
The team’s leading power hitter and wearer of the red rally thong – no kidding.
BRUCE JENKINS: He's still a real salty guy. I mean he's the guy with the uh … with the thong. You know he'll light up a cigarette every now and then, you know. And uh, he grew up in a trailer in Texas for heaven's sake, you know, but man is he a good hitter. He has just got a sweet left-handed swing and uh, you always need the sort of the old hand there to kind of keep guys in line and uh, and Huff proved to be that guy.
JON MILLER: “Pat Burrell, the designated hitter, hitting seventh.”
Another mid-season pickup who was sitting on his couch when the Giants called. Pat Burrell. Pat “The Bat.”
BRUCE JENKINS: Pat Burrell really had a rebirth here. He's a local guy, obviously a high school hero. And went to the Phillies, which can be a real nasty town if you're a streak hitter who strikes out a lot. And he struck out a ton when he first got there, and they just about booed him out of town. He went to Tampa Bay and didn't have a good experience there. He's a little quiet, but he proved to be a real leader on the team. You know, he was playing in his hometown, they were winning, he was doing great things, and that sense of belonging really got a hold on his soul and his personality. Brought out the best in him. Again, another unlikely story that proved to be invaluable.
JON MILLER: “Edgar Renteria, at shortstop, batting eighth.”
Ah, the oft-injured Renteria.
BRUCE JENKINS: Edgar Renteria, yeah. He was … he was just, uh … he talked about retiring I think in, like, late August. The feeling was, “Well if you leave now that would be okay. You might as well – you're hurt, you're not playing much.”
JON MILLER: It was like his 34-year-old body, or whatever he was – when I say 34 it always seems like he can’t be 34, he must be 39 or something. But it looked like his body was 39 or 40 years old. It really at one point seemed like if he played three or four days in a row, he was going to break down. And I think that was probably more often than not the case. And Edgar hit three home runs the whole season.
BRUCE JENKINS: But he's got so much pride. He's done so many important things for winning teams. He's a guy who ended a World Series with a single up the middle, for heaven’s sake.
That was when he played for the Florida Marlins, 13 years earlier, in 1997.
JON MILLER: “Aaron Rowand, in centerfield, batting ninth.”
In 2010, he had the worst batting average of his 10-year career, by far.
BRUCE JENKINS: But he was a guy who, again, another guy who's been on a World Series team. He's done a lot of winning. He loses his job to Torres, and the fans are down on him. They're wondering, he shouldn't even be on the post-season roster. You know he kept his head up, he totally got was going on in that clubhouse. And he sure as heck wasn't gonna be the one to bring it down by grousing about his own situation. And it was real genuine, I don't think he was faking it. He really felt like this team was going somewhere. “Maybe I'll sneak in there...” And sure enough, who was the center fielder in Game 5? Aaron Rowand.
JON MILLER: And the pitcher for the Giants, in this big game, the biggest game in San Francisco Giants history as it turned out – Tim Lincecum. Just the man you’d want out there for a big game.
And very much the symbolic leader of the pack.
BRUCE JENKINS: Tim Lincecum. I saw him leaving the clubhouse one day, and he's dressed in all black and he's got this little weird black hat on. And he's walking his, his boxer dog to the clubhouse. He looked like Patti Smith in 1982. (laughs) Who is this guy? Who is Tim Lincecum? I mean, he's a little tiny guy who can throw a ball through a wall. He's … I don't even know where to start with Lincecum. He's such a trip. I mean he's basically a chill kind of stoner guy from Seattle and uh, he can strike out anybody in the game at will.
Lincecum’s baseball credentials are unmatched – after three full seasons, he’s a three-time strikeout king and two-time Cy Young Award winner as the best pitcher in the National League. But his personal history is a little more ... pedestrian. During the off-season, he picked up his first citation for possession of marijuana (which makes some of the hometown fans love him all the more).
BRUCE JENKINS: In all the years I've been here this was the team more than any that every one could relate to, just from a spiritual standpoint.
Altogether, your San Francisco Giants were called…
DANA COHEN: A lot of weird guys and castoffs.
DANI DUNLEVY: A bit of a motley crew and a bunch of misfits.
Not just by recent Australian immigrant Dani Dunlevy and local fan Dana Cohen. But by their own manager, Bruce Bochy, who also called them “castoffs and misfits.” Somehow, these players – this team – made it to the game’s grandest stage. And they brought their city with them.
BRUCE JENKINS: It was a different star every night and people related to that in a really deep and intense manner.
So here we are, November 1, 2010. Game 5 of the World Series. The Giants lead the Texas Rangers, three games to one. They’re one win away from bringing their first championship back to San Francisco. Millions of fans are watching, from where the game is taking place in Arlington, Texas, to a house party near San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. And we are there.
LEAH ANDERSON: My name is Leah Anderson.
ISAAC ANDERSON: Isaac Anderson. I’m seven-and-a-half.
JASON ANDERSON: Jason Anderson.
OMAR ANDERSON: My name is Omar Anderson. I’m five-and-a-half.
BEN TREFNY: My name is Ben Trefny.
ERIN TREFNY: My name is Erin Trefny. I’m eight years old.
FRANCES TREFNY: My name is Frances Trefny.
KYLE TREFNY: My name is Kyle Trefny. I’m eight years old.
ETTA BUDD: My name is Etta Budd. I’m eight years old.
SUSAN ROBINSON: My name is Susan Robinson.
OLIVER BUDD: My name is Oliver Budd. I’m six years old.
MATT ALEXANDER: My name is Matt Alexander.
NOLAN ALEXANDER: My name is Nolan Alexander. I’m eight years old.
LAURA HODDER: My name is Laura Hodder.
BEN ALEXANDER: Ben Alexander. I’m eight years old.
Across the Bay, a crowd has come together at Ben ‘n Nick’s Bar in Oakland. We’re with:
HANNIBAL DEIZ: Hannibal Deiz. I am a Bay Area native, I’ve grown up here, been here my whole life.
And thousands gathered before a giant projection screen set up in San Francisco’s Civic Center plaza.
JON MILLER: In that final game, the clinching game of the World Series, it was as if Tim Lincecum said, “This is who I am. I was born to do this. I’ve been looking forward to this night my entire life.”
It would be a big challenge – he was facing Texas Rangers’ star pitcher Cliff Lee.
JON MILLER: The world was focused on Cliff Lee as the guy for the postseason – the king of the postseason.
HANNIBAL DEIZ: This guy, you know, he’s a big deal.
JON MILLER: …the king of the postseason.
Going into the World Series, Cliff Lee had won seven postseason starts. And he’d never lost. Lee was so good that before the series began, Sports Illustrated breathlessly reported that:
ACTOR (reading from Sports Illustrated): “The lefthander is more than the central character of this series. Helooms above it like the sun above the earth. There are only the days that Lee is scheduled to pitch, and the day spent waiting for him to get the ball again.”
Lee was that good. That is, until he got pounded by the Giants in Game 1. But game 5 would be different.
JON MILLER: This game, the clinching game, was an old time, an old timey pitching duel, between two great pitchers.
ALAN FARLEY: It was pitch for pitch, pitcher for pitcher. I mean, it was a very tight close game. It was exciting, but it was unpredictable.
JON MILLER: The kind of a game that you expect you’ll see in the World Series, where you got the best of the best.
We’ll pick up the action in the top of the seventh, but now, let’s return to Game 5 of the 2010 World Series. Here’s the Giants’ Hall of Fame broadcaster Jon Miller.
JON MILLER: “Going into the seventh inning, Cliff Lee, back on the hill for the Rangers. Tim Lincecum has thrown six shutout innings. Nothing to nothing score as Lee goes to work against the Giants here in the seventh.”
Cody Ross gets a base hit.
JON MILLER: Now the Giants get the leadoff man on.
Juan Uribe follows with a single. So, two on, no out.
JON MILLER: This calls for a bunt. It’s a nothing to nothing game!
But a bunt’s probably not coming, because the next guy up is Aubrey Huff.
JON MILLER: And Aubrey Huff doesn’t bunt! He hasn’t bunted for a sacrifice in nine years. And, much less, he’s the Giants’ home run and RBI guy, he’s their leading hitter.
But today is different.
JON MILLER: He bunts.
ASHKON DAVARAN: He bunted! I couldn’t believe it.
JON MILLER: It was incredible!
ALAN FARLEY: His first bunt!
JON MILLER: The last thing you’d ever expect.
ALAN FARLEY: Incredible!
JON MILLER: Number one, Aubrey Huff had not bunted at any time the whole year.
ALAN FARLEY: It’s one of the truisms I’ve heard and it happens. Virtually every game you can see something you’ve never seen before, it’s so unpredictable.
JON MILLER: And I think that rattled Cliff Lee a little bit.
Pat Burrell, one of the Giants’ best power threats, comes to the plate. And the mighty Burrell … well, he struck out.
ASHKON DAVARAN: So frustrated when Burrell struck out.
ALAN FARLEY: Well, he wasn’t the last out, though.
Shortstop Edgar Renteria steps to the plate.
JON MILLER: Renteria was swinging a very hot bat in that postseason and had already taken the Rangers deep.
BRUCE JENKINS: Well, when you're watching Renteria from anywhere, in my case from the press box, the last thing you're thinking is he's going to hit a home run. It's just not, not part of the deal.
JON MILLER: They obviously, with Cliff Lee, were not going to walk him intentionally, but to try to get him to go out of the strike zone and chase a bad ball. And if you end up walking him – hey, you’ve got a base empty. But he threw one to the outside and it cut in over the plate. He made a mistake. And BOOM!
BRUCE JENKINS: I remember when he hit the ball I remember saying to myself very quietly because you can't be very loud in the press box. I just said, "No."
JON MILLER: “Way back, Hamilton’s back.”
FRANCES TREFNY: Oh, that’s a fly. That’s what we needed before!
JON MILLER: “At the warning track. At the wall. And…”
MARTINA CASTRO: And I uh screamed, and they’re like, “What’s going on, what happened?”
BRUCE JENKINS: It was just … it was too good to be true.
JOE BURKE: And that home run went over the fence, and that's when 53 years of pent-up frustration and being a Giants fan and never winning - it all came through and I was laughing and crying at the very same time.
BRUCE JENKINS: It was just one of those surreal moments that you, that you'll remember your whole life.
BEN ALEXANDER: And I’ll always almost remember this, I feel like that.
BEN TREFNY: MVP! MVP! MVP!
JON MILLER: The most memorable home run, the most decisive home run, the biggest home run in the history of the San Francisco Giants, and it came from Edgar Renteria! And the Giants had the three run lead, suddenly. Not a ground ball for a single and a run, but three runs in one swing of the bat!
ERIN TREFNY: Why did they show all the Giants fans?
FRANCES TREFNY: They’re all at the Civic Center.
Thousands of people are cheering the homer at San Francisco’s Civic Center Park.
ALLISON CROW: Home run! That was really good!
I’m Allison Crow. I live in Oakland, and I just started following the Giants a little last season, but this season I really got into it. And I think I was good luck, this is awesome.
Jason Cardona is part of the celebration. He’s been a Giants fan…
JASON CARDONA: Since I was a little boy. I grew up in San Jose.
The night the San Francisco Giants could clinch their first World Series championship, neither Crow nor Cardona could imagine being anywhere but right here.
ALLISON CROW: It’s exciting, it’s really fun that everyone came out.
JASON CARDONA: It brings on camaraderie, it’s good, it’s fun. And look at the backdrop. The backdrop is beautiful, isn’t it?
ALLISON CROW: It’s getting dark now and City Hall is lit up in orange…
JASON CARDONA: …all lit up in orange to commemorate the moment when the Giants ... It’s good, it’s nice, it’s beautiful. It stands out. It’s like a beacon of light, right? Orange light in the night.
San Francisco Rapper DaVinci is one of many Bay Area artists featured on the song “Black and Orange.” It’s one of many songs inspired by the Giants World Series run. DaVinci’s love for the team started more than a decade earlier, when he went to Candlestick Park as a kid, and the tickets were a little bit cheaper.
DAVINCI: The tickets used be like a dollar, and they used to all take us at the Park and Rec across the street from my house, right on Fell Street. And in the summer time we’d go on field trips to the Giants game and we’d only have to pay one dollar. So ever since then I’ve been sportin the black and orange, the SF hat, you know what I’m sayin’?
Alright – back to the game. It’s the bottom of the seventh inning.
JON MILLER: “Tim Lincecum back to work now. For the first time, pitching with a lead here in Game 5. 3-0 Giants as the Rangers come up to bat.”
The things I thought about there were simply: there’s nine outs to go, and Lincecum’s been great. But this is a very good park in which to hit, and the Rangers have some guys, and if they can get a couple men on, they’ve got several guys capable of popping one.
Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz promptly hits one out of the park.
HANNIBAL DEIZ: Oh, they got one, they got one.
JON MILLER: Nelson Cruz hit a solo homer.
HANNIBAL DEIZ: Only a solo, though.
JON MILLER: …and that just sort of underscored the fragile nature, and now they just needed one guy on base, and the tying run, the possible tying run comes to the plate.
GRANT BRISBEE: You know, a walk, a broken bat single, a home run, the Rangers … you know, just baseball can happen so quickly.
For many Giants fans, a late lead in a World Series game actually brought back bad memories. Just eight years earlier in 2002, they led the Anaheim Angels three games to two. One more win, and they’d be the champs. They took a 5-0 lead in the seventhinning. And then … well … this is Giants baseball.
JOE ESKENAZI: I’m Joe Eskenazi. I’m the online news editor at SF Weekly. I’ve been a Giants fan since 1985.
DANA COHEN: I remembered for a long time that I liked that they were a losing team. There’s something, you know, endearing about the underdog.
JOE ESKENAZI: I’ve always said it bothers me how much it bothers me, regarding the way that I watch the Giants and the way that it matters so much. And I’m not a screamer … it just eats you up.
NOLAN ALEXANDER: It’s kind of stressful, and really exciting too because I know they have such good players, and I’m like “They can do this thing! They can do it!”
JOE BURKE: ‘Cause I knew then that barring some completely ridiculous thing like had happened against the Angels in 2002, we were actually going to win it.
JOE ESKENAZI: You know, it was years, years, that I didn’t think about Game 6 every day, just in some fleeting moment when you’re not thinking about anything else.
GRANT BRISBEE: I didn't want to believe it, but in the back of my head I was doing cartwheels. But I was doing that in 2002 as well, before the Angels came back, so…
JOE BURKE: I still didn't think they were going to win it, just because the experience is for 53 years, they find a way to lose like 2002, when they had a five run lead with seven outs to go. (sighs)
JON MILLER: …just a few outs to go, where you’re counting the outs.
GRANT BRISBEE: And at this point I'm thinking, what do I do – do I get champagne now? Do I wait till it's over and then get champagne? Is that anticlimactic? Should the champagne be chilled already? Boy, I'm thinking, “How do I celebrate this?”
BRUCE JENKINS: I needed to have a column done at the end of the game, more or less. And so I'm writing, writing away this flowery, "Giants, they've finally done it. They've got a big lead," and how Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, and this erases all the heartbreaks of the past and, you know, I'm writing this column and as we all were. We were all writing the same kind of thing.
ALAN FARLEY: The Giants have got this nailed.
BRUCE JENKINS: And it slowly starts to unravel.
ALAN FARLEY: And then it slipped away. And it was just gut-wrenching.
BRUCE JENKINS: And you're watching this column just evaporate into space to the point that where it was worthless. You had to throw it out and start over.
JOE BURKE: Ugh. That was so frustrating.
ALAN FARLEY: Just gut-wrenching, the loss.
GRANT BRISBEE: It's hard to imagine a team getting that close to a championship and not winning it.
CELINA HARRINGTON: Everyone was so sad. Celina Harrington.
GRANT BRISBEE: It just doesn’t happen that often. It was that close.
CELINA HARRINGTON: It was the worst day ever. Because it felt like you lost. I mean you’re a fan, but you still feel like a part of the team, even though you’re not on the field with them.
BRUCE JENKINS: You know that was a shattering … I mean we felt the shattering experience in the press box that the team was feeling, that the fans were feeling. It really did seem over. Even though there was another game to go.
ALAN FARLEY: I couldn’t even watch the next game, because I just knew the Giants were not going to come back.
They did not come back.
JON MILLER: So that’s when I started thinking about this idea of the disappointment of a Giants fan. Cause I really was disappointed.
JOE ESKENAZI: In 2002, after Game 6, I think every true fan new that that was it. And I called up my best friends, who I had led into Giants fandom in the ‘80s, with just my sheer enthusiasm. I told him, “I’m sorry I got you into this.”
JON MILLER: “Top of the 8th inning, the Giants ahead 3-1, now. And I’m sure Tim Lincecum, as strong as he’s been, wouldn’t mind if the Giants got another run or two here.”
But they didn’t. The score remained the same. And for old Giants fans, those memories of failures past just kept on coming. And it wasn’t just 2002 – there were many, many more. Like Game 7 of the 1962 World Series against the New York Yankees, when Hall of Famer Willie McCovey came up to bat with two outs, the Giants down 1-0 and Mattie Alou on 3rd base and Willie Mays on 2nd. A hard hit ball could have won the game, and McCovey hit a ball hard. Except he hit it right at 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson. The Giants lost the World Series. And the beat-downs went on and on.
BRUCE JENKINS: I watched Sandy Koufax pitch a no-hitter against the Giants, which you know the rivalry has always been fierce. It was extremely intense in those times, and this was the Giants of Mays and McCovey, and just a tremendous hitting team. And Koufax was the guy they had to beat and to get no hit by him was really quite humbling. But as the years went on, it got far worse.
JON MILLER: I remember back as a kid in 1965, when Juan Marichal – there was this bad blood between the Giants and Dodgers, and Marichal ended up in a fight with Johnny Roseboro, the catcher of the Dodgers, and hitting him over the head with his bat. And brutal, just horrifying to see. To this day I always felt that incident ended up costing the Giants a trip to the World Series.
The Giants played against the Oakland A’s in the 1989 World Series.
BRUCE JENKINS: I was thinking about 1987, the playoff series they had against the St Louis Cardinals.
JON MILLER: Remember, they went to St. Louis ahead three games to two, needing one game more...
BRUCE JENKINS: Then the earthquake happened.
ALAN FARLEY: The earthquake sort of threw things off kilter, and there was sort of a disastrous World Series for the Giants.
BRUCE JENKINS: And so there's just this whole sequence of negative events. So I mean every, basically every time the Giants ever got to the postseason, it always ended badly. So that's just a few of them, there's more.
JOE BURKE: Just year after year it was just, you know, stuck in second place. Finding a way not to succeed in the end. Cause I mean golly, look at the Giants over the last 53 years here in San Francisco – Hall of Fame players all over the place.
JON MILLER: Willie Mays all by himself would make you a fan.
JOE BURKE: Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry – all these great players and good teams. The lists go on and on! Barry’s dad Bobby Bonds…
JON MILLER: There’s Bobby Bonds, wow! He came along, hit a grand slam in his first game as a big leaguer when I was in high school! And he can hit home runs, he can steal bases, he’s a gold-glove outfielder … Wow!
ASHKON DAVARAN: Jeffrey Leonard, Chili Davis…
JOE BURKE: … Will Clark, Jeffrey Leonard, Jack Clark...
JON MILLER: …the Ripper, Jack the Ripper.
ALAN FARLEY: Matt Williams and Will Clark…
ASHKON DAVARAN: Will Clark was definitely always my favorite player growing up. The game-face. The whole thing.
JON MILLER: Barry Bonds at that time, there was nobody more exciting or more dramatic than Barry Bonds. He was doing things that nobody in the history of the game had ever done.
JOE BURKE: And they didn't ever win! How do you not have at least one championship with as many good times as we had in San Francisco?
JON MILLER: Always being good, but never quite good enough.
JOE BURKE: It was almost as though we had a bad omen, bad mojo, wasn’t going to happen.
JON MILLER: And now there’s almost a dark cloud that hangs over it all.
JOE ESKENAZI: Now I have a foreign-born wife who has taken to following the Giants because of my enthusiasm. And it was a deep fear of mine that the team would falter on the moment of triumph, and I would introduce another person to the darkness of what it is to be a Giants fan.
JON MILLER: “Last of the eighth inning. Six outs away from their first World Championship as the San Francisco Giants. Lincecum back to work leading 3-1.”
PAUL SHROEDER: Well, Lincecum is up, he’s pitching. It’s the eighth inning, they need six more outs and then they win the world championship.
My name is Paul I’m from San Francisco. I’m from here. Paul Shroeder.
I remember I was out here in 2002, in a scene just like this, it was right by the Metreon here in the city, it was a crowd like this. We were watching the big screen, and they were six outs away, and they lost it all. It was a very hurtful moment for everyone here. But uh, everyone is looking for redemption, we all need that moment. We all need that moment.
I should probably stop talking, I’m on the verge of tears … Yeah, it’s a big deal huge.
JOE BURKE: It was only nerve wracking because it was baseball and you have to get those last three outs.
LAURA HODDER: Nerve-wracking.
JON MILLER: Duane Kuiper comes on our little roundtable discussion on the radio after the game.
Former San Francisco pitcher Duane Kuiper who broadcasts Giant games with Jon Miller.
JON MILLER: “I came up with a new slogan for the Giants: ‘Giants Baseball – It’s Torture.’”
LAURA HODDER: It’s constant torture.
ISAAC ANDERSON: I thought the Rangers were gonna score a couple runs, but I didn't think they were gonna blow it really.
LEAH ANDERSON: My memory is that you had to walk out of the room. In fact, outside onto the fire escape, because you were so nervous that they were gonna blow it. You couldn't watch the game.
ISAAC ANDERSON: I don’t really remember that.
JON MILLER: And I think that kind of … the Giants, the powers that be, as time went on, because this kept being repeated because there were more and more games like that. The Giants were a little uptight about it from a marketing standpoint. The marketing people were like, “It’s not torture, it’s dramatic! What are you talking about, torture?”
ASHKON DAVARAN: So many heart attacks throughout the year.
JON MILLER: And the fans sort of had this wry comment that they were making about the Giants, “It’s torture, and we love it! Torture is fun!” And so on and so forth. The fans took that themselves and turned that into a positive. Which, when you go to game 5 in the World Series, and the whole World Series in general, I think ... how did that happen? Where did this Giants team come from?
All of a sudden a Giants team had emerged which was methodical, it was smooth, it did everything right. Where was the torture? The torture didn’t exist! The Giants were just good! And they were clearly the best team on the field, in the league championship series and in the World Series. And it was like the Giants had graduated to something more and something better than we’d seen all year long by the end.
“Top of the ninth inning, and the Giants still maintaining a 3-1 lead over the Rangers.”
So what made this San Francisco Giants team different from those others that got so close, but couldn’t finish? A story that columnist Bruce Jenkins shares from the season provides some insight.
BRUCE JENKINS: Well one, one night, I went back to Chicago for a big series in September and they lost the game. Every loss in September is a bad loss, and every loss that's ever gone down brings the same reaction in the clubhouse. It's very, very quiet. It's morgue-like. There's no music. There's no laughter. It's just … that's not only the way they feel – that's the way you sort of have to act. And we're going around getting horrible quotes from one player to another, and all of the sudden here comes Aubrey Huff, walking through the middle of the pack – and there's women in there and you know women reporters and everything – wearing only that red thong that he became famous for. And he's got a bandage on his right leg and he's got tattoos on his arms. And it was just hysterical!
I was interviewing Brian Wilson at the time and he goes, "There goes our clubhouse atmosphere. It just walked by. There it goes. Did you see it?" A great line. And it was just, there always that sense of levity around the team. There's always somebody there to pick ‘em up when they're down. But it was an extremely genuine family feeling to that team, which is very rare in sports.
JON MILLER: “Last of the ninth inning. Three outs away from a World Series championship, and Brian Wilson to come in and try and save this one for Tim Lincecum."
BRUCE JENKINS: I don't know where he comes from. He comes from a different place. When I first started watching him, he's got this shirt unbuttoned and the Mohawk, I didn't even want to talk to this guy. You know, "Shape up." You know. Button the shirt, the haircut’s kinda lame. And then you start listening to him night after night and he's a like a beacon of intelligence and perspective in the clubhouse. He's absolutely a guy you go to, win or lose, to hear his view on the thing and put it in perspective. He's borderline genius really. He can do the New York Times crossword puzzle in like 10 minutes. You can't beat him in chess. He's a he's really a fascinating guy.
Brian Wilson’s first batter is American League Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton. Hannibal Diez is watching the game in Oakland.
HANNIBAL DEIZ: I think he’s focused. He knows that he’s three outs away from a title. And this is his job. This is what they pay him for. To do this.
DOUG OLSON: My name is Doug Olson, I’m from Oakland about a block and a half away from here. We’re at Ben ‘n Nick’s on College. My favorite Giant? Well considering how the last time I shaved was in 1975, I like Brian Wilson. Fear the beard!
Wilson strikes Hamilton out, looking.
JOE BURKE: And Wilson came in in the ninth it was, yeah. It was fun. It was good.
Former MVP Vladimir Guerrero steps in. He grounds out to short.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Stand up everybody, we’re about to win the World Series!
FANS: Let’s go Giants! (clapping)
Two outs. Nelson Cruz comes up to bat. He hit a home run in the seventh inning. It’s a battle.
KYLE TREFNY: Well, whenever I watched Brian Wilson, he does a full count just to make things a bit more exciting. And when he did a full count there, I was like, “Oh, he's gonna strike that guy out.”
LAURA HODDER: I was feeling calm because I feel like when the game’s in Brian Wilson’s hands, he’s going to make it exciting, he’s going to push it to the edge…
NOLAN ALEXANDER I was like, “He's not gonna blow it. There’s no way he can.”
BEN ALEXANDER: I really hope he doesn’t blow it.
BEN ALEXANDER: I was like, “Oh, he’s gonna strike that guy out.”
Here’s the pitch. Strike three. Game over.
DANA COHEN: It was a Brian Wilson strikeout. A perfect close.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh my god, he just won! We just won!
JON MILLER: “The Giants, for the first time in 56 years, and their first time ever as the San Francisco Giants, are the champions of the baseball world.”
FANS: Let’s go Giants! (cheering)
BRUCE JENKINS: That was like my 25th World Series for the Chronicle. The more of those things you watch, you try to watch as many of the things that are going on as you can. I just remember, the thing that really struck me was sort of that three-way hug between, among the infielders. Sanchez, Uribe and Renteria. That was beautiful. They just sort of naturally gravitated toward each other. And I remember Huff's glove 20 feet in the air. So many things. The look on Lincecum's face as they had him up on their shoulders.
DANA COHEN: Buster Posey ran out from behind home plate and ran and jumped into Brian Wilson's arms and they embraced, and I think a lot of people in the bar around me followed suit. Lots of hugging and shrieking and screaming. Lots of "I can't believe it!"
ERIN TREFNY: And when the Giants won I heard such a loud noise, like, “Whoooo!”
JON MILLER: “The Giants at long last have brought a World Series Championship to San Francisco. Let the celebration begin.”
BRUCE JENKINS: I just wanna stand down here and just soak this up for, you know, until dawn.
CELINA HARRINGTON: It was crazy, it was madness. Everybody was popping bottles of champagne.
ALAN FARLEY: And here it was – I was trying to drink in every moment of it.
CELINA HARRINGTON: People were throwing beer around like if we just won, like if we were the actual players.
JOE BURKE: We popped a bottle of Champagne and sat there and you know, if anybody who's ever watched any sort of sports thing that your team wins, if you're not outside honking your horn or driving around the streets…
DANA COHEN: Oh, the honking started immediately. (cars honking)
JOE BURKE: You're watching the highlights for like an hour after the game. And you replay the homerun.
KYLE TREFNY: “2 and 0, the count. Lee pitches. Edgar Renteria hits a high drive into left center field!”
ERIN TREFNY: “David Murphy going back! He’s at the wall.”
NOLAN ALEXANDER: “Count, 2 and 0! Cliff Lee pitches! High fly ball! David in center field!”
KYLE TREFNY: “Murphy’s going back, he’s at the warning track…”
ERIN TREFNY: “…at the wall. It’s goneeeeeee!!!!”
KYLE TREFNY: “It’s goneeeeeee!!!!”
NOLAN ALEXANDER: “It’s goneeeeeee!!!! Edgar Renteria has hit a three-run homer, which might lead to a Giants World Series victory!”
JOE BURKE: But it was like that. You need that reassurance that it actually did happen. So you have to watch it again several times.
DANA COHEN: We all sort of went outside and all started jumping up and down on the street, on the sidewalk and high-fived cars passing by. I didn't know how many people in the city owned Giants flags but there they were driving around the city waving their flags out the car. I've never high-fived so many people in my life.
The Giants’ World Series win brought people from all over the Bay Area together. And as the celebration continued, memories that would last a lifetime began to unfold in real-time.
CHRIS ROTHACHER: My name is Chris Rothacher. I’m from Berkeley, California, born and raised.
Chris Rothacher manages a pizza place in Emeryville.
CHRIS ROTHACHER: I just, I always loved the Giants. They’ve always been underdogs and I’m so happy it actually happened this year! This is amazing. Absolutely amazing.
It’s also amazing how much this Giants fan looks like a certain starting pitcher.
CHRIS ROTHACHER: A little bit just because, people, just…
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Timmy!
CHRIS ROTHACHER: I walk down the streets and everyone is like, “Oh my God! Tim Lincecum!”
This night would prove to be not only one of Tim Lincecum’s favorites … but also one of Chris Rothacher’s.
CHRIS ROTHACHER: San Francisco!! World Series!!
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: Great pitching man, great pitching!!
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Number one hung over city tomorrow!!!!
CHRIS ROTHACHER: I’m not … I don't want to treat it like…
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: Timmy!! Oh Timmy!!
MARTINA CASTRO: Oh my God, they totally treat you like you were him!
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: Number one, Timmy!
CHRIS ROTHACHER: Giants! Whoo! I mean, I don't want to say that I am him…
MARTINA CASTRO: No, you’re not! Obviously not! But it’s…
CHRIS ROTHACHER It’s just … yeah, Giants! Whooooo! It’s entertainment, it’s hilarious…
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2: Can I get a photo with you?
CHRIS ROTHACHER: Yes, you absolutely may.
San Francisco’s Dana Cohen had an equally memorable, if a bit more painful, experience, the night the Giants won the World Series. She was partying in the city’s Mission District…
DANA COHEN: People are lighting off fireworks and all of a sudden someone has grabbed a mattress which had been laying against a wall, abandoned, and starts to light that on fire. Five minutes later a fire truck pulls up and puts it out…
But that only added to the revelry.
DANA COHEN: At least 50 people, jump on top of the fire truck and are dancing and cheering, and everyone below them is cheering. Somehow I found myself to be one of those people on top of the fire truck...
With thousands and thousands of like-minded fans.
DANA COHEN: So then, a phalanx of motorcycle cops pulls up on either side of the fire truck and everyone on top sort of panics and realizes – okay, it's time to get down. Somehow, I just landed wrong on my heel, and it turns out I broke my heel disembarking the fire truck.
So the memory carried on.
DANA COHEN: I knew I was going to want to decorate the cast; the doctor told me I was going to be in a cast for six weeks, and I knew I wanted to decorate it in some way. And it seemed only appropriate that it be Giants related. So I had a friend draw on it and she drew an enormous portrait of Tim Lincecum on the side of my cast. And hence it became Tim Lincecast.
For others, San Francisco’s World Series season was literally life changing. Like for singer-songwriter Ashkon Davaron, who repurposed the well-loved Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’” as an anthem for the Giants’ playoff run.
ASHKON DAVARAN (singing from “Don’t Stop Believin – Giants 2010 Anthem”): Just a loyal fan / trying to do the best I can...”
I mean, the ride from the first day that we dropped the video … and I mean to have the Giants continuously winning at the same time – it was just such a complete dream world. It was so crazy. The day we dropped the video, we released the video – it was Game 3 of the NL Division series with the Braves – it was right after that game. And we wanted initially to have it done before Game 3, but it was having trouble uploading to YouTube. There was some glitch, it just kept failing and failing! And so the game starts. That game was like the whole frikkin’ thing right there.
You had Sanchez on this 1-0 gem. I remember at one point the video finally had uploaded, and the other guys, they were ready to drop it, they were like, “We just gotta do it!” We were starting to get worried that we had put in all this work and who knows – we weren’t even going to have any time for anyone to see it, the season’s going to be close to over. Who knows! So anyway, we’re clinging onto this 1-0 lead, they’re like, “Should we drop it??” I’m like, “We can’t drop the video now! Sanchez is throwing a no-hitter! Come on! You’re tacky! We gotta wait! Can’t jinx it!” All of that.
So we end up holding on, holding on. Eighth inning, 1-0. And Hinske hits that homer, the two-run shot off of Romo. And I’m just – I mean, everything sunk. Everything sunk. It was, “Here we go again. What did I do to deserve this? I guess this is just how it is. I guess this is going to be my life as a sports fan, as a life, as an individual. You know, I don’t know what I’ve done, but maybe there’s some lesson behind this.” You know, it was all that, all over again. So, so, so much pain.
And then … and then the ninth.
Down to two outs. And I … I run downstairs, and I grab my rally thong from the video. I’m like, “Come on Aubrey! Let’s go!” Man, sure enough, he fists that thing to right field, and then hits the ball through Conrad’s legs. And then – phew – the rest is history.
So we win that game, and immediately after that game, I pressed “click.” “Giants 2010 Playoff Anthem – Don’t Stop Believin’.”
BRUCE JENKINS: All these tremendously heartfelt, emotional stories about what the Giants meant to them … I can't think of too many sports stories – and again, I've experienced these in all these towns, and all these great things that happened to other people. When it happened here, I tell you, we didn't get cheated. We had it as good as it gets. When people are just so moved by that, and even if they didn't care about the team necessarily, in their lives day-to-day … all of a sudden they did. And it just meant something.
Literally families were drawn together by the spectacle. They're watching it together – you know the little kids, mom and dad, grandparents, whatever.
JOE ESKENAZI: What I decided this year is that, this is who I am, and I’m not gonna try and be different.
ALAN FARLEY: I couldn’t believe it.
ASHKON DAVARAN: They actually did the whole damn thing, and it’s unreal.
ALAN FARLEY: It finally happened. I’m getting choked up just thinking about it.
DAVINCI: Just to bring that type of attention to the Bay Area makes, ya know, the energy go up a couple of notches, ya know what I mean? Like all across the board, just from going out-the nightlife, just to people on the streets in the daytime – everbody’s a lot more friendly, they’re a little more proud to say they live and they from San Francisco at this time.
DANA COHEN: If you were in the city during the postseason, you know the spirit and energy and fervor with which people celebrated this team. So I think when a lot of people hear that I was on top of a fire truck, celebrating, they understand.
BRUCE JENKINS: Everybody embraced this story. And I think that story brought in more sort of non-baseball fans or casual in-and-out fans because riveted to this story because it was just so cool. It was like watching your kid’s little league team. You know you're really … there was an emotional involvement in this team that was really unsurpassed.
DAVINCI: And in San Francisco, I consider anybody and everybody who was there, damn-near like my family. If you was rooting for the Giants at that time, we all kinda felt like family.
JOE BURKE: I had friends who are Dodgers fans who are just absolutely, they hate the Giants as much as I dislike their team, and they were just, they were congratulating, and that was good, that was good baseball.
BRUCE JENKINS: The 1993 team that got eliminated on the last day. The 2002 team that lost in the World Series – they were so revolving around Bonds, particularly in 2002, that it was a more difficult team to embrace, a more difficult icon to embrace.
JOE BURKE: But I'm much happier that this team won, cause this was like a real team and not just a superstar and a bunch of role players. This was a team effort all the way. You don't find this a lot in baseball.
BRUCE JENKINS: And the great thing about that is that it was absolutely true. I mean I've been in clubhouses since 1972 and this was easily one of the four or five best clubhouses I've ever had the pleasure of, of working.
ALAN FARLEY: The thing about this whole postseason also that impressed me was that everything went the Giants way. All the bad calls did not go against the Giants. The bad mistakes didn’t hurt the Giants. The weather was great, even down to the weather for the parade. Everything went right. It just had to happen, it was just destined to happen.
JOE ESKENAZI: It was a relief that I no longer have to follow the games as if it was a matter of life and death, and I can just enjoy them for what they are, and I don’t have to worry about all the failure adding up and adding up and adding up, and I can just enjoy the games from now on. It’ll still mean a lot, but it’ll be healthier I think. That’s what the World Series meant to me.
JOE BURKE: Oh gosh, yeah. Oh gosh, yeah. And to tell you the truth, I don't care if they never win another baseball game as long as I live. (laughs) ‘Cause we got this one, we got a championship, and that's all anybody ever asked for.
ALAN FARLEY: The World Champion San Francisco Giants.
JOE BURKE: All the people who who aren’t around anymore. You know, friends from school. I'm that old ... friends from school who aren't around anymore. My parents, my grandparents. I wish they were here to see this because they would've ... It would've been fun.
JON MILLER: There were so many people, and so many people in a mood to celebrate.
DANA COHEN: I went to the parade on crutches and in a splint and got in the front row and was very pleased.
JON MILLER: The cheering was so loud, like it was a constant ovation from these hundreds of thousands of fans lining the streets, from Montgomery Street on to Market Street, and down Market Street for what I guess was a mile and a half before we got to City Hall.
ALAN FARLEY: I mean I thought I’d heard cheering at the ballpark, but when you get that crowd at Civic Center, that was incredible. I’ve never heard anything like it. I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of people were there, but it was incredible.
BRUCE JENKINS: A million people all with the same look on their face. [laughing]
ASHKON DAVARAN: Nothing was as unfamiliar and out of this world and beyond me than that World Series parade. When I found out that they had a spot for me in the parade, I was so excited and, I mean … can you imagine that from a fan’s perspective? You know, Freddy Sanchez – “Hey man, I love the song!” And Ross was such a nice guy, and Tim was so cool. He was so cool!
JON MILLER: For me, what was great was, is how the sort in the larger picture. The Giants were a means to bring everyone together, in short of shared purpose, which was to root the Giants along, but also to sort of savor the success that they were having. And this was not just fathers and their children, who, you know ... we parents and our children, how many things do we have in common? Sometimes it’s just a ballclub that we can talk about and share. So it was a great day in the community, and I think wasn’t just the city of San Francisco, I think was the whole Bay Area that shared in the joy and the experience so … in that regard, the Giants and baseball sort of transcended their standing as a game that has a season to become a great moment in the history of the community.
Okay, take a deep breath. It’s over. The 2010 season that is. As for the celebrating...well it’s mostly over, at least the dancing on fire engines is! However, the memory you have of the Giants winning it all – maybe it’s Brian Wilson getting that final out, Edgar Renteria’s homerun, or hugging that total stranger at 16th and Guerrero when you’d realized we’d finally won it – whatever moment it is for you that captures it all: well that’ll be around for awhile. Whether you’re a homegrown fan, a recent convert to the black and orange, or you just came along for the parade, it doesn’t matter: in 2010, we were all Giants.
This documentary originally aired on December 16, 2010.