Wednesday, December 23, 2015

1971 San Francisco Giants (1st): 90-72, .556, 1Up - NL WEST CHAMPS

In a year known as "The Year of the Fox." manager Charlie Fox, led a team made up of aging stars and rising youngsters to a Western Division title with a 90-72 record. The Giants got off to a fast start, winning 18 of their first 23 games. The energy and raw talents of youngsters like outfielders Bobby Bonds, Gary Matthews and Garry Maddox and shortstop Chris Speier melded nicely with the experience and wisdom of veterans Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Willie Mays. Bonds smashed 33 home runs and 102 RBI. Meanwhile, pitching ace Marichal continued his domination over batters, notching 18 wins. In addition Willie Mays who was now 40-years old slugged four home runs in his first four games. His production didn't let up as he went on to set a National League career record for runs scored in June. Despite such steady play, the team began to wear down near the end of the season. They saw their nine game lead on September 4th dwindle to one game by the 25th. It wasn't until the final game of the season that the Giants clinched the Division title on Marichal's 5-1 gem over the San Diego Padres. The Giants salivated at the chance to face the Pittsburgh Pirates in the best-of-five NLCS. They had beaten the Pirates 9-out-of-12-games and seemed likely candidates to win the pennant. The Giants jumped out of the gate full-steam ahead in the series opener, beating the Pirates, 5-4, in front of 40,977 fans at Candlestick Park. Willie McCovey and Tito Fuentes fueled the attack, ripping two run homers in the fifth inning. However, the Giants wouldn't lose the next three games, as the Pirates would advance to the World Series in four games.  (from  I would also add that the Giants finally "broke through" after so many 2nd place finishes since they won the '62 pennant.  This was a great "final run" for the "3M's" (Mays, McCovey and Marichal).  It was also the year that the Dodger-Giant rivalry reignited with both teams battling it out until the final day of the season.  The fact that LA clearly dominated the season series, especially in September (they won 6 of 6) wasn't lost on Giants fans, who were glad to raise the NL West flag as an "I told you so".  The 1971 NL West Pennant race contrasted two teams going in different directions.  The Giants, who held on to win, were heading into a dark decade for the franchise, while the Dodgers were on the ascent for the next 20+ years.

It took 18 cards to complete the full set

Not to be confused with future Yankee great with the same name, Williams played in a total of 102 major league games in parts of four seasons, batting .192 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 172 at bats. In addition to his appearances in the outfield he was often used as a pinch hitter. Unfortunately, he never came close to achieving the success which he had displayed in the minor leagues. Of his four home runs, two were pinch hits.  After his major league career, Williams found much more success in Japan playing for the Hankyu Braves. In six seasons for the Braves, from 1975 until 1980, Williams batted .258 with 96 home runs and 294 RBI. He was selected to the Pacific League All-Star team in 1976.  (from wikipedia)
Arnold hit .231 (3-13) for the '71 Giants in September after dominating AAA with a .343 average in Phoneix. Two of Arnold's four career home runs came against Hall of Famers. One came in his third major league at bat, against Phil Niekro on September 10, 1971. The other came against Steve Carlton on May 1, 1974. One of the other two was a pinch-hit grand slam with two out in the bottom of the 9th inning during a comeback victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 1, 1973.  Arnold finished his MLB career with a lifetime batting average of .237, 4 home runs, 51 RBI, and 47 runs scored in 273 ballgames. He later played three seasons with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in Japan, batting .274 with 43 home runs and 174 RBI.  (from wikipedia)
21 year old rookie Chris Speier stepped up from the minors in 1971 to play in all but 5 of the Giants games.  While his .235 average was a bit on the low side, his glove was superior to the middle infielders the Giants had in the past.  Simply put he found a home by the Bay.  The next three seasons would see him hit All-Star Status.  Midway through the '77 season he was sent to Montreal for Tim Foli.  For the next 8 years he would be the Expos regular shortstop.  By the mid 80's he moved around a bit, but in 1977 he returned to the Giants just in time for them to win 2 division titles in 3 years.  After the '89 season he retired at the age of 39, after 19 major league seasons.
The imposing 6'6" Kingman rocketed through the Giants minor league system in less than year to reach the big club.  After hitting 15 homers at AA-Amarillo (in 60 games) and 26 homers at AAA-Phoenix (in 105 games) the Jints promoted him to the biggs.  Less than two years before he was a pitcher at USC.  Only the Babe himself made the conversion from pitcher to slugger faster.  Well "Kong" never hit anything near 60 homers like the Babe, he eventually emerged into the biggest home run threat of his generation.  Unfortunately he was as big a threat to make an error in the field or to strikeout swinging.  In 1971, as a 22 year old rookie, he hit .278 with 6 homers and 24 RBI's (41 games) and really added some life to the fading Jints.  With the Giant franchise in disarray in the mid 70's he was traded to the Mets where he had back to back season with 36 and 37 homers.  1977 would prove to be an interesting season for him as he had the misfortune to play for and hit honmers for 4 different franchises (NYM/SPD/CAL/NYY).  In 16 years in the biggs he hit 442 long balls.
The 22 year old lefty hitting Rader batted .314 in AAA-Phoenix and was a late season call up batting just 4 times in 3 games without any success.  The following season he was given the starting catcher's job and he finished 2nd in the NL-ROY voting.  1973 was an even better season  for him power wise (9 homers), but his average slipped to .229.  The next three season saw him platoon behind the plate as his average soared to .291.  After the '77 season he was dealt to the Cardinals where he hit .263 (2nd year in a row) as Ted Simmons backup.  The following season he became the Cubs starting catcher and hit just .203.  He hit one point higher in '79 as the Phils 3rd string backstop.  His final stop would be in 1980 with the Red Sox where he posted his highest average ever (.328) as Carlton Fisk's backup.  Curiously he was cut at the end of the season.  The Angels picked him up, but he was cut in late April without playing a game
After an abysmal September in 1970 (2-1, 7.36) the Giants still had faith in this 21 year old righthander.  Manager Fox used Carrithers in a spot starter / long man role and he delivered a 5-3, 4.03 record in 22 games (80 IP).  1972 and 1973 would show complete regression, so he was shipped off to Montreal where he posted 3 solid seasons.  After a brief (7 games), but bad '77 shot with the Twins he was released.  Returning to his roots the Giants gave him a two year chance at AAA-Phoenix to right his ship.  After two sub-par seasons both he and the Giants came to the conclusion that it was best to part company.
Goodson hit just .190 in 42 at bats for the Jints in '71.  The next 3 seasons were quite good, which led most Giants fans to think he was going to be their 1B or 3B for a long time.  Then in 1975 his bat went cold dropping from .272 to .208.  The Giants must have had more than just an inkling that this was not an aberration, because they shipped him to Atlanta where he didn't fare much better.  After failing in Atlanta he moved on to the hated Dodgers for two nondescript seasons.  Cleveland took a shot by signing him in 1978 and he hit .327 for their AAA-Portland affiliate, but never got the call to return to the majors.  After the '78 season his career was over.
Journeyman minor league outfielder Floyd Wicker missed 2 years of playing time due to military service during the late 60's.  As a major leaguer he served mostly as a (ineffective) pinch hitter.  For the '71 Jints he hit .143 (3-21).  In parts of 4 major league seasons he hit just .159 with 1 career homer.  Due to the fact that I couldn't find any photos of him as a Giant I went against my normal distaste for the BHNH shot and used this one.  I changed the color of his turtleneck to match the Giants black instead of the Expos blue.
1971 was the future broadcaster's first full season in the biggs.  In 93 AB's as the Giants 3rd string catcher he hit .280.  The following year he would drop to .152 and was sent to KC where he put together some solid years as a back up.  Then the fun starts.  Midway through the '76 season he found his way to the Bronx to backup Thurman Munson.  Healy did that for two seasons and even found a role as intermediary between Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson.  After getting just one AB in '78 he was finished with baseball as an active participant.  His next role was that of broadcaster.  For almost 30 years he broadcasted both Met and Yankee games.  He now works for he MSG network on their 365 show.
Duffy played just 21 games for the Giants in 1971 (.179), but he will always be remembered as the guy they got for George Foster.  Duffy's tenure by the bay lasted just 21 games before he was dealt to Cleveland along with Gaylord Perry for Sam McDowell.  He had some nice years as Cleveland's starting shortstop before moving over to Boston for another two seasons.
During the 70's the Giants showed little patience with young outfielders.  Foster was the first of the bunch that they gave up on.  After hitting .267 in 105 AB's he was sent to Cincy for Frank Duffy...and the rest was history.
Barr pitched in just 17 games for San Fran and posted a 1-1, 3.57 record.  For the next 7 years he would be a top of the rotation guy for them.  In 5 of those 7 years he would eat 200+ innings and win double digits.  He would move down the freeway for 2 seasons with the Angels before moving back to the Jints for 2 final seasons to end a solid 12 year career.
Howarth parlayed one above average AAA season (.363) into 4 separate stints with the parent club.  In all 4 seasons he was barely competent.  In 1971 he hit .231 in 7 games as a spare outfielder.  The following season he got into 74 games and barely improved (.235).  By 1974 he was back in the minors for all but 6 games and then out of baseball completely.
After going 14-9, 3.35 at Phoenix-AAA Willoughby earned the right to spend September with the big club.  He didn't see much action (2 games), but it was a great learning experience for the following season where he pitched in 11 games as a starter and went 6-4, 2.36.  Oddly his major league numbers were twice as good as his minor league numbers (9-8, 4.66).  For the next few seasons he would shuttle back and forth between San Fran and Phoenix before getting a chance to pitch for a pennant winner in Boston in 1975.  After 3 seasons in Boston he wound up with the White Sox in 1978 and then back in the minors for all of 1979 before being released.
After 6 1/2 years in the minors Rosario finally got his chance to play for the big club.  In 92 games he hit just .224 (43-192) without any homers while manning all 3 outfield spots when needed.  The following season he played in just 7 games.  Then it was back to the minors for 4 more years with a brief opportunity (15 games) to play in Milwaukee.  After 1 year in the Japanese leagues he spent 5 seasons in the Mexican league.
1971 was Cumberland's big chance to make it as a major leaguer.  At the age of 24 he looked like he really put it all together by throwing 185 innings and going 9-6, 2.92.  Giant management thought they found a guy who was going to be perfect in the back of their rotation.  What they got was a career minor leaguer who plummeted to 1-5, 7.71 the following season and 0-4 8.64 the season after that.  Moving to both STL and CAL did nothing to improve his fortunes and after the '74 season was over he was gone from baseball.
The master of the "folly floater" pitched his best ball as a New York Yankee from 1963-1970.  Hamilton arrived in New York at the tail end of the Yankee dynasty, then stuck around to be the anchor of their pen during their "down years".  Midway through the 1970 season he was shockingly released by New York and picked up by the White Sox.  At the point of his release he had a 4-3, 2.98 record.  Chicago traded him to the Giants in the offseason and he responded with a fine 2-2, 3.02, 4sv campaign in 1971.  After the Giants were eliminated in the NLCS by Pittsburgh Hamilton was waived.  He would head back to Chicago, this time the North side, to finish out his career in 1972.  He is one of 2 baseball players who pitched in the World Series and played in the NBA finals.
Steve made his major-league pitching debut on April 8, 1971, starting against the San Diego Padres at San Diego. The first batter he faced, Dave Campbell, singled, and the next, Larry Stahl, hit a home run. Two of the next three batters got hits and Stone was down, 3-0, after the first inning. He held the Padres scoreless in the second and third innings and was lifted after a leadoff double in the fourth. The Giants went ahead with three runs in the seventh, but the Padres pulled out a walk-off victory in the ninth. Appearing in 24 games for San Francisco, with 19 starts, he won 5 games and lost 9, with a 4.15 earned-run average. Before the season was over, the Giants sent him down to Phoenix, where he went 6-3 with an ERA of 3.98. Returning to the Giants in 1972, he was 6-8 in 27 games, 16 of them starts, with a good earned-run average of 2.98. A sore arm cropped up during the season, and after the season, the Giants traded Stone and outfielder Ken Henderson to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Tom Bradley.

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