San Francisco Giants: Hall of Famer Monte Irvin Will Never Be Forgotten
Keeping up with the Holiday’s we are going to do a San Francisco Giants themed “Twelve Days of Christmas.” This series will include everything from wishes, to reflections, historical remembrances. Enjoy!
On the third day of Christmas, let’s remember a San Francisco Giants legend we lost in 2016.
Earlier this year, the San Francisco Giants lost one of the most beloved players in franchise history. Monte Irvin, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, died on January 11, 2016.
Irvin and Hank Thompson became the first African-Americans to play for the New York Giants on July 8, 1949, two years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
The entire Giants team wore patches with Irvin’s retired number 20 on their jerseys throughout the 2016 season in his memory. San Francisco Giants fans never had the honor of seeing him play because he retired in 1956 at the age of 37.
The Baseball Hall of Fame wrote a piece on Irvin after his passing which included a statement from the museum:
"“The National Pastime has lost a pioneer with the passing of Monte Irvin, and the Hall of Fame has lost a devoted family member and friend,” said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “Monte followed in the footsteps of Jackie Robinson as one of the men who integrated baseball, then proceeded from his exceptional playing days to working tirelessly for years in the Commissioner’s office. His impact will always be felt on the game, and he will be missed in Cooperstown.”"
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In 1949, the New York Giants bought Irvin’s contract from the Eagles. In 1951, he led the Giants to the pennant, hitting .312 with 24 home runs and a National League-best 121 RBI. He would finish third in the National League Most Valuable Player voting that season. The Giants ultimately lost to the Yankees in the World Series, but Irvin batted a team-best .458 in the six-game series.
On June 26th, 2010, the Giants retired Irvin’s number 20 at a ceremony at AT&T Park.
In May of this year, their was a celebration of life for Monte Irvin. Giants president Larry Baer, Giants great Willie Mays and many others were in attendance to celebrate the man they all grew to love over the many decades they knew him.
Irvin will never be forgotten by anyone who knew him and for the many fans who never had the chance, it is important to understand just how much he meant to the integration of baseball and the success of the Giants.
Next: Best Giant to Wear Number 2
Continue to follow along each and every day throughout the Christmas season for our 12 days of Giants Christmas.