“There’s a long drive ... it’s gonna be, I believe ... The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant and they’re goin’ crazy, they’re goin’ crazy! Heeey-Oh!’’
This was the call of longtime Giants announcer Russ Hodges on Oct. 3, 1951, as the Giants beat the odds in defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers in the deciding game of a three-game playoff to decide the National League Pennant. The Giants went on to lose that series in six games to the powerful Yankees. They won another pennant in 1954, and that time went on to sweep the favored Indians, who had just completed an astounding 111-win season. The series was immortalized by “the catch” by Willie Mays as he sprinted toward the center field wall of the Polo Grounds. The game’s greatest call and greatest catch were turned in by the same team in a scant four-year period.
This year’s Giants team is one that should be enjoyed by true baseball fans. They have outstanding pitching, but their line-up is make-shift at best. As a Nationals fan, going through position by position, I would trade only the catchers. I believe the Nats are superior at each and every other position, but somehow this team has reached the pinnacle, while Washington has again languished in fifth place.
We don’t get to watch the Giants much, and I must admit I was rooting for both the Braves and Phillies in their series. It was hard not to like them, though. From their team spirit to their goofy shoe-polished beards, they have snuck into my heart as they now prepare to challenge another team that will be heavily favored. The Texas Rangers will be a formidable foe, with Cliff Lee and a line-up that really pounds the ball. It’s also neat that they celebrated with ginger ale in deference to their star slugger Josh Hamilton, who a decade ago almost lost his career to drug and alcohol addiction. It should be a fine series for everyone except the television ad executives.
But for us, this should be the beginning of a real connection between our Flying Squirrels and the parent club in San Francisco. The Giants have a nice young pitching staff, but opportunities abound for talented position players to move up the ladder. Darren Ford was the first Richmond player to get the call, as he spent the month of September with the big club. Ford is one of the fastest men in baseball, and he became a valuable pinch-runner for the Giants as they finally tracked down the San Diego Padres on the last day of the regular season. Thomas Neal and Brandon Belt should soon follow. A fine young crop of talent is headed this way, including Jose Flores and Francisco Peguero, who both hit over .330 in single-A this past season. They should be joined by pitching prospect Justin Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-5-inch fireballer.
Many thought Flying Squirrels to be a really ridiculous name for a San Francisco farm club. The F-S and S-F sequence in the names may or may not be a coincidence. Either way, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more orange and black around our community in the coming years.
Atlanta who? Go Giants! Go Flying Squirrels!