The San Francisco Giants have a history that stretches all the way back to the 19th century when they were based in New York and known as the Gothams. Their professional baseball debut in 1883 featured a victory against a team from Boston at what is now known as the Old Polo Grounds. Since then, the ball club has remained a formidable force in the National League despite many changes.
The first change involved the name and it came in 1885 after a win in extra innings against Philadelphia. Then manager and co-founder Jim Mutrie praised his players in an emotional post game address by calling them his giants. The club dropped the Gothams label and from that time forward, they were known as the Giants.
They secured their first National League pennant in 1888 and then won the championship series against St. Louis in ten games. The following season was tumultuous as the club bounced from venue to venue before July 1889 when they finally landed at the Second Polo Grounds. That would be their home until 1957 when the organization left the east coast and headed to northern California.
The team seemed poised to move to Toronto in 1976 when Bob Lurie and a group of investors stepped in and bought the organization. Lurie would make several attempts over the next sixteen years to get a downtown ballpark built. His unsuccessful efforts eventually led to an agreement to sell the franchise to a group based Florida. That was when several local investors led by Peter Magowan purchased the team and they were spared another cross-country relocation.
It was not long after moving into Candlestick Park that the players realized how challenging it would be to perform in their new home by the bay. Weather conditions were often extreme with high winds, cold temperatures and even fog. The players and fans would finally get relief in 2000 with the move to a new stadium in the China Basin region of downtown.
The Giants introduced the idea of using signs during games in 1902 after John McGraw was named manager. McGraw required all players to learn sign language as a way of communicating with their teammate Luther Taylor, the only deaf-mute player in the league. This also gave them a way to communicate with each other during the game without speaking.
The Alou brothers, Jesus, Matty and Felipe, made Major League history on Sept. 15, 1963 when they took to the outfield at Forbes Park in Philadelphia for the Giants. It marked the first time an outfield was comprised of three brothers. Five days earlier all three went to bat in the same inning.
The players would probably rather forget 1984. That was a season that saw the squad lose 96 games. Fans, however, will remember it as the year Crazy Crab hit the field. The bug-eyed creature was supposed to be the anti-mascot. The intent was to mock traditional sports mascots but the poor thing bore the brunt of a frustrating season. By the time he was retired at the end of the season, Crazy Crab was universally abused by players as well as fans.
When it comes to sports rivalries, there is none more fierce than the one between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The competition between the clubs has roots in the late 1800s when the two clubs played in New York. The two sides became even more determined to outdo each other when they left New York and moved west at the same time.
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