Monday, Dec. 17
SAN FRANCISCO — If you love the Giants and appreciate their rich history, an ideal holiday gift awaits you.
A CD is available featuring taped highlights from the careers of Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons, the club’s popular broadcast team during its first 13 years in San Francisco (1958-70). It’s the 11th in a series of commemorative audio tributes produced, written and narrated by Chicago Cubs play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes, who also has captured the best of Red Barber, Marty Brennaman, Jack Buck, Harry Caray and Harry Kalas, among others.
Each of these projects is a labor of love for Hughes. But this one has special meaning, given Hughes’ background. He grew up in San Jose listening to Hodges and Simmons, who helped stoke his passion for the game and his career path. “They influenced me greatly and favorably,” Hughes said. Hughes is among those — as am I — who adored Russ and Lon as much as Mays, McCovey and Marichal.
“Listening to the highlights brought back a flood of memories,” Hughes said.
The excerpts are often riveting. Of course, the CD features the spoken accounts by Hodges and Simmons of numerous memorable events, such as pivotal occurrences from the 1962 pennant-winning season and multiple Willie Mays heroics. We hear Hodges’ call of Bobby Thomson’s home run — not just “The Giants win the pennant!” segment, but also the moments before the homer, in which Hodges’ keen eye for detail is evident. We hear Simmons’ pregame show from May 11, 1972, when he spoke eloquently and emotionally about the trade that sent Mays to the New York Mets.
Hughes included unexpected treats. We learn what led Hodges and Simmons to the microphone, often in their own words. We hear an absolutely hilarious clip from a Roos-Atkins commercial that Hodges and Simmons attempted to deliver live until they dissolved in laughter. We hear Hodges calling boxing, of all things — drawing a prestigious assignment by being at ringside for the second Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston bout.
The CD can be ordered online at http://www.baseballvoices.com. Requesting the priority shipping option will assure that the CD will reach its destination by Dec. 24, if it’s intended as a Christmas present.
But, really, it’s an excellent item to give or acquire at any time.
– Chris Haft
Tuesday, Dec. 4
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It was a foregone conclusion that the Giants would exercise the 2014 options on the contracts of general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy. Those moves could occur as early as Tuesday afternoon, when club president and chief executive officer Larry Baer is expected to address the issue.
Given the Giants’ two World Series triumphs in the last three years, contract extensions for Sabean and Bochy would be within the realm of possibility.
Sabean, the longest-tenured GM in the Major Leagues, is entering his 17th season on the job. He has been the architect of teams that recorded a 1,392-1,199 record for a .537 winning percentage.
Bochy, who began managing the Giants in 2007 after 12 years as the skipper of the San Diego Padres, owns a 1,454-1,444 career record. He has steered teams to the postseason six times. Besides his pair of World Series appearances with the Giants, Bochy also reached the Fall Classic in 1998 with the Padres.
Together, Sabean and Bochy have helped the Giants record four consecutive winning seasons, the team’s longest such streak since 1997-2004.
– Chris Haft
Monday, Dec. 3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Bobby Evans, the Giants’ vice president of baseball operations, hinted that competition for free-agent second baseman Marco Scutaro’s services could be more spirited than anticipated.
“He’s got versatility,” Evans said Monday, referring to Scutaro’s ability to play shortstop and third base as well, “and that gives him an additional market that some guys may not have.”
Observers assumed that Scutaro, 37, would settle for a two-year contract. But his breadth of skills, along with his .362 average in 61 games down the stretch for the Giants and that National League Championship Series MVP trophy he won, might be enough to earn him another year, or at least an option year.
“In Marco’s case, I wouldn’t rule out anything,” Evans said.
At a ceremony here Monday, Evans received the Bowie Kuhn Baseball Chapel Award for his efforts to encourage spiritual efforts among the Giants. In addition, Staci Slaughter, the club’s senior vice president of communications, received the 2021 Robert O. Fishel Award for public relations excellence. She has been a member of the organization since 1996.
– Chris Haft
Monday, Dec. 3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Bobby Evans, the Giants’ vice president of baseball operations, used some powerful language Monday to suggest that Brian Wilson ideally will always wear a San Francisco uniform.
Of course, whether Wilson views matters the same way remains to be seen.
The Giants declined to tender Wilson a 2013 contract last Friday. They didn’t want to pay him a minimum of $6.8 million, the minimum they could have offered him under terms of the Basic Agreement. Players’ salaries cannot be cut by more than 20 percent; the $6.8 million figure represented a 20 percent reduction from the $8.5 million Wilson earned in 2012.
To listen to Evans, Wilson’s value to the Giants is priceless.
“I think Brian’s a Giant for life, and he’ll hopefully be a guy who’ll consider coming back here as he evaluates his options,” Evans said, adding that the organization respected Wilson’s right to look elsewhere.
Added Evans, “He’s a commodity that’s hard to find. It’s hard to find guys built like him that have the mentality that he has that led to a lot of his success. So that’s going to be very interesting on the open market, injury aside. His makeup is part of what makes him successful.”
Manager Bruce Bochy, who personally contacted Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro to help the Giants’ efforts to keep both players, said that he would call Wilson soon in an attempt to convince him to stay.
Whatever happens with Wilson, Bochy declared that Sergio Romo would open next season as the Giants’ closer, barring drastic roster moves. “I’ll tell you (that) right now,” Bochy said, though he indicated that he might continue the closer-by-committee strategy he employed in Wilson’s absence. Santiago Casilla saved a team-high 25 games, and Bochy mentioned Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez as others who could lend support — as they did in 2012.
So if Angel Pagan remains productive for the duration of his four-year contract, what happens to Gary Brown, the 2010 first-round draft choice who was billed as the Giants’ center fielder of the future?
Evans said that Brown, 24, remains highly regarded within the organization. “I don’t doubt Gary at all,” Evans said. “The timing for him will be dictated more by him than it will be us.”
In other words, if Brown excels, the Giants will find a place for him somewhere in the outfield. He hit .279 with 33 stolen bases at Double-A Richmond this year and followed that by hitting .313 in 17 games for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League.
“I think Gary will put himself in the big leagues at the right time,” Evans said.
– Chris Haft