The writers at Around the Foghorn were asked to discuss who their favorite San Francisco Giants players were and share those stories with our readers.
For me, that was an easy choice. Kevin Mitchell. Mitchell only played parts of five seasons for the San Francisco Giants, but he left a lasting impression on the fans who grew up at Candlestick Park.
Mitch had played the majority of his time at third base in 1987 and 1988, but as the team moved into the 1989 season, the team decided he needed to make the move to left field.
The Giants had Matt Williams and others who could play third base and a need in the outfield.
He had played in the outfield at times throughout his young career, but the move was going to be permanent.
One perk for the Giants was they had the greatest outfielder in Major League Baseball history in camp in Willie Mays to help with the transition.
Whether Mays was the inspiration for one of the greatest catches in baseball history is not fully known, but Mitchell clearly relished his role in left field that season.
His catch in St. Louis is regarded as one of the most incredible catches in baseball history and right up there with Mays in the 1954 World Series.
And more importantly, Mitchell flourished in the middle of the Giants order.
Batting behind Will Clark gave him a great teacher in the on deck circle and a masters class in how to attack the opposing pitcher. Mitchell took full advantage that season.
His MVP campaign in 1989 cemented his legendary status in San Francisco forever. His 47 home runs and 125 runs batted in help lead the Giants to their first World Series appearance since 1962.
While Clark was busy becoming “Superman” in the 1989 National League Championship Series, Mitchell was showing off his power as well.
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Bonus from this clip is the fantastic line from Mitchell that “you go up to swing the bat. Only the mailman walks.” New Giants president Farhan Zaidi would not approve.
Clark and Mitchell batting third and fourth became better known as the “Pacific Sock Exchange” and were as feared a tandem in the National League as any.
No matter what stats are preferred in today’s front offices or what scouts value, the home run and the run batted in will always be what helps connect children to the game. It’s the most basic connection to the game that can attract a young viewer.
Robby Thompson moving the runner over to put them in scoring position is hard for a nine year old child to get excited about.
Kevin Mitchell hitting a towering 450 foot home run to drive three runs in and give the Giants the lead is easy to bring a child to their feet.
Growing up, nobody was a better power hitter for the Giants than Mitchell, and his power became the most enjoyable thing about the 1989 San Francisco Giants. It didn’t hurt that he sometimes made barehanded catches.