2 Seeds: Or four Giants the team probably regrets letting leave, but are proud of having so many homegrown legends.
Gaylord Perry was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Perry pitched for eight different teams over 22 seasons. However, his first 10 years were spent in San Francisco. From 1962-1971, Gaylord won 134 games and maintained an ERA of 2.96. He earned a 37 WAR in 10 seasons, averaging nearly 4 wins above replacement a year. However, after an All-Star appearance in 1970, Perry struggled in 1971. It was the Giants only post-season in Perry’s career as a Giant and he struggled in the playoffs as well.
Perry was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Sam McDowell, who would go on to only pitch two seasons for the Giants. Perry, meanwhile won the Cy Young in 1972 with the Indians. He would also win the award again in 1978 with the San Diego Padres. Perry made history in 1978 by becoming the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in both the National and the American League.
"“The thing about the first Cy Young is that I signed with the San Francisco Giants first thing out of high school. I loved the Giants – I still love them – they’re my number one team. In 1970 and 1971 I had won a total of 40 games. I thought I had it made,” Perry remarked. “I felt more pressure playing for Cleveland, because we didn’t have as good of a team as San Francisco. We had five Hall of Famers on that Giants team – Cepeda, Mays, McCovey, Marichal and myself. The pressure in Cleveland was to show that I could win anywhere.”"
Giants reveal Gaylord Perry statue at AT&T Park.
Matt Williams was a first round pick of the Giants in the 1986 amateur draft. A year later, Williams made his debut and by 1989, he had established himself as one of the best hitters on the team. Joining Clark and Mitchell in the middle of the order and eventually Barry Bonds led to a potent Giants lineup throughout Williams’ tenure with the team. From 1987-1996, Williams hit 247 home runs and drove in 732 runs. He maintained a slashline of .264/.312/.498 for an OPS of .811.
His best year came in 1994, the strike shortened year, where he hit 43 home runs and drove in 96 in only 112 games. Williams was on pace to break Roger Maris’ single season home run record of 61 at the time that baseball went on strike.
Williams was traded after the 1996 season as the team had decided to build the team around Bonds. New general manager Brian Sabean felt the team couldn’t afford to pay two superstars. The Giants traded Williams to the Cleveland Indians for Jeff Kent and others and the trade helped both teams. The Giants became more versatile and went to the 1997 post-season, and the Indians became even better than they were and went to the World Series.
Williams went to the Arizona Diamondbacks the following season and ended up winning a World Series ring in 2001. Fans will always wonder what might have been had Williams stayed. The team was still good with Kent, but most fans still wish the team could have kept Matt instead.
Long before Barry Bonds became a household name, his father Bobby Bonds was an excellent Hall of Fame talent with the Giants. In an organization with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Cepeda and so many other power hitters, there was pressure to live up to those and other greats.
Bonds played his first seven seasons with the Giants from 1968-1974. The three time All-Star went to two with the Giants, including his best overall season in 1973. Bonds’ 7.8 WAR that season was one of the best in the game and his 39 home runs and 96 RBI’s paced the Giants offense that season. Bonds was one of the most consistent Giants as well as one of their most versatile. Bonds slashed .273/.356/.478 for an OPS of .834. In his 5 seasons in the American League, Bonds slashed .268/.356/.478 for an OPS of .835. In his entire 14 year career, he slashed .268/.353/.471 for an OPS of .824.
Bonds was one of the best players in baseball history when it came to power and speed. Bonds had five season of at least 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases as well as 11 seasons of 20/20, including seven straight seasons from 1969-1975. Bonds would finish his career with 332 home runs and 461 stolen bases.
Mays was gone, McCovey was 35 and Gary Matthews and Garry Maddox were just beginning their careers in the outfield. Bonds had become the best player in the Giants lineup. Bonds, however, would be traded following the 1974 season. The Giants received Bobby Murcer in return, who went to the All-Star game in 1975, but only lasted two seasons in San Francisco.
“Will the Thrill” burst onto the scene for the Giants. So much so that he was given a second chance at the Hall of Fame this off-season. Clark’s career certainly seemed destined to be enshrined forever. After winning the Golden Spikes award as the top collegiate player and being selected as the second overall pick in the draft, he hit a home run off Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in his first major league at bat the following season.
For the next eight years, Clark was the leader of a Giants locker room that turned a 1985 100 loss team completely around in two seasons. The Giants won the National League West in 1987 and the National League pennant in 1989. Clark won Most Valuable Player honors in the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, being labeled “Superman” by play-by-play voice Hank Greenwald. Clark went 13-for-20 with six extra base hits including a grand slam in Wrigley Field and the series clinching two RBI base hit back at Candlestick Park.
Will Clark’s grand slam in the 1989 NLCS
Clark is Superman as he clinches the NLCS for the Giants.