Brandon Crawford became infamous for being pictured at Candlestick Park as a five year old child in 1992 when it was possible the team was leaving San Francisco for Tampa Bay. 16 years later, Crawford was a fourth round pick of the Giants. Three years after that, Crawford was making his San Francisco debut that began with a grand slam. Two World Series rings, two Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger and a Willie Mac award later, Crawford is a cornerstone piece of the Giants. Now with Crawford signed with San Francisco through 2021, the future looks bright at shortstop for a long time.
Brandon Crawford keeps
no hitter alive with spectacular double play.
Grand slam seals 2014 Wild Card win for Giants in Pittsburgh.
Aurilia and Crawford wore the number 35 because of Chris Speier. Speier was the prototype shortstop for the Giants, shining with the glove more than at the plate. Shortstops were expected to be the strength of a defense and any hitting they did was considered a bonus. Speier played his first seven as well as his final three seasons in San Francisco.
Over a 19 year career, the three time All-Star gave the Giants stability up the middle of their defense. From 1972-1974, Speier went to three straight Mid-Summer Classics as one of the best shortstops in the National League. Of the 70 home runs he hit as a Giant, 35 came in those three seasons. His numbers began to drop off after that. In 1976, Speier only managed two home runs and a .226 batting average. Speier was traded in April of the 1977 season to the Montreal Expos. Playing in the same era as Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith doesn’t help. Speier came back to the Giants in 1987 as a utility player for the Giants and remained through 1989. He became a leader in the clubhouse and the dugout for some of the most successful Giant’s teams of all-time. He continues that leadership today as a major league coach. He is currently working with former Giant Dusty Baker as a coach on his staff for the Washington Nationals.
Pablo Sandoval was signed when he was 16 years old by the San Francisco Giants and Sandoval quickly rose up the ranks of the minor league system. By 2009, Sandoval was a force in the middle of the Giants order. The “Kung Fu Panda,” a nickname given to him by teammate Barry Zito for his size and quick feet, was an instant fan favorite. Panda’s weight was always a point of reference for the switch hitting third baseman. Sandoval seemed to struggle most when his weight went up. He was also incredibly versatile and gifted as an athlete. Sandoval learned to throw right handed to become a catcher in the minor leagues and then was moved to third base once he got to the big leagues. By 2014, Sandoval was a finalist for the Gold Glove at the position. Sandoval was always at his best when the game mattered the most. In three trips to the post season, Sandoval slashed .344/.389/.545 for an OPS of .935. He was even better in the World Series. The 2012 World Series MVP, Sandoval slashed .426/.460/.702 in the Fall Classic for an incredible OPS of 1.162. Sandoval signed with the Boston Red Sox after the 2014 season, but there is no denying that Pablo was a huge part of the three championships the Giants won during his time in San Francisco.
Sandoval’s three home runs in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series.
Panda shows off his athleticism as he goes over the railing to make the catch.
Kevin Mitchell had his best seasons in San Francisco. The 1989 MVP came up through the New York Mets organization and was an important part of the 1986 World Series Champions that came back to win Games 6 and 7. Mitchell scored the tying run in the infamous comeback in Game 6. After being traded to San Diego and then to San Francisco, the chances of Mitchell thriving here was unlikely. But that is exactly what happened with the help of Roger Craig, Willie Mays, Dusty Baker and even teammates like Will Clark. Mitchell became as lethal a hitter as any in the game. Moving from third base to left field and hitting behind Clark gave the Giants one of the strongest lineups in the game. After the 1991 season, however, Mitchell was traded again to the Seattle Mariners.
In an interview with Michael Stahl where Mitchell himself said would be his last, Mitchell stated he had contemplated retiring after the trade.
While he was a Giant, Mitchell was as good as any player on the roster. The addition of Barry Bonds two seasons later made the trade of Mitchell seem worth it. However, for anyone who was a fan of the Giants in the late 1980’s, nobody will forget his power or his bare handed catch.
Mitchell makes a bare handed catch.