Anyone who follows me understands what the name Clark sitting above the number 22 means to my childhood. With that being said, the San Francisco Giants did away with names on their home jerseys since they moved into AT&T Park. And that one move explains a lot about who they are.
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As the years move forward, the San Francisco Giants organization has continued to harness the qualities that are required to sustain success. The team creates synergy with its minor league affiliates, treats its players and staff (current and former) with the greatest respect, and has developed a great love affair with both die-hard and casual fans.
And while having a home jersey without a last name on it seems like a fashion statement, it actually gives you a good look at who the Giants are.
They are a team who has fans that learn their names. And, more importantly, a team full of guys who recognize that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the one on the back.
Let’s consider for a second that a fan of a particular team sees that team once every 10 years. Perhaps wearing a name tag may be smart. As some of you may have seen at a recent high school reunion, there may be some changes to a few people where a badge may be smart. But if you are viewing a team for a full season, the need for a tag shouldn’t be necessary.
The absence of the last names also gives Giants fans and the players a kinship while at the park. Fans of opposing teams aren’t in on the relationship since they need to ask “who is number 18, again?”
Along with the traditional feel of the jersey, it also drives home a point that should be the focus in the clubhouse of every team in baseball. That the success of the team trumps anything done individually.
As exciting as it was to watch Barry Bonds turn on a fastball low and inside, the fortunes of the team always rested in a few players’ hands during his tenure. It wasn’t necessarily his fault, just the way the team was built at the time.
But this lightning-in-a-bottle time period is a great blueprint as to how to construct a team from the ground up, and sustain it. And it is no small ideology that the focus is on team-first. How many times have you seen a Giants outfielder make a great catch and then point his thumb to his upper-shoulder area? Not once.
That is why the name emblazoned across the front is what is most important to a franchise. With players being shopped to multiple teams when their free agency arrives, the lure of playing for a team where every member is pulling in the same direction could be a factor in deciding where to play.
But if the team continues to cultivate the right kind of players, there may not be that many spots available for free agents to fill.
Whether it is homegrown talent, or players like Denard Span who is thrilled to become a Giant, the fact that the last name is absent definitely embodies the culture of the San Francisco Giants.