Mark it down folks. The 1986 San Francisco Giants team reunion will take place on June 11th, 2016 versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. The game is on a Saturday June 11th and is a 4:15 pm start. It’s been 30 years!
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Looking back at San Francisco Giants history, you can almost pinpoint the exact time when the team started to believe in themselves as an organization. The traditions that started in New York were naturally brought to the city by the bay when the team moved west. But the team had hit rock bottom in 1985, becoming the only team in franchise history to lose 100 games.
They started to change the roster almost immediately by trading for catcher Bob Melvin and Juan Berenguer. After trading for Bill Laskey, the team then sent Alex Trevino to the Dodgers for Candy Maldonado.
The 1986 team was a turning point in the franchise because they made it easier to look to the future with confidence.
Will Clark and Robby Thompson were rookies that knew the game, and played hard all the time. Veterans like Mike Krukow and Jeffrey Leonard balanced out a roster that was just starting to figure out who they were.
In honoring the players at the 30-year reunion, the Giants will also be remembering a couple of key players from that team who are no longer with us. Former All-Star third baseman Chris Brown and Willie Mac award winner Jose Uribe passed away just 18 days apart. Uribe on December 8th of 2006, and Brown on December 26th.
The team featured a strong pitching staff, posting a team ERA of 3.33. Along with Krukow’s 20 wins, Mike LaCoss, Vida Blue and Kelly Downs all contributed as starters. Terry Mulholland spot-started 10 games, and Scott Garrelts showed great versatility by making a few starts and taking on the closer’s role as well.
Chili Davis and Dan Gladden were in the outfield, and Bob Brenly was behind the plate. The bench was also full of quality players like Mike Aldrete, Joel Youngblood, and Harry Spilman. (I was at the game July 13th, sitting behind home plate in the upper deck, when Spilman hit a three-run bomb off of future Giant Rick Reuschel.)
The 1986 team went on to win 83 games, finishing third in the west. It was a dramatic turn around from the previous season. The culture shift that was started late in 1985, and continued into 1986, laid the foundation for what would become a sustained run of competitive baseball during Craig’s tenure as manager.
A run that, in hindsight, may have been necessary for the team to even stay in San Francisco. Had they been a consistent loser, who knows how hard they would have really tried to keep them here a few years later?