Call them misfits, castoff or also-rans. Just don't forget to call the San Francisco Giants World Series Champions. It took over a half-century of close calls, heartbreak and yes, torture--but the city by the bay can finally hoist its long-awaited banner.
As billows of herb-scented smoke filled the air, hundreds of thousands exuded euphoria. The celebratory parade through San Francisco mimicked a scene from a past generation. It was the identical route take by Willie Mays and his cohorts when the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958. Unfortunately for Giants fans, the tremendous success of the New York franchise didn't make the trek.
The love affair between San Francisco and its baseball team was instantaneous. Buoyed by such luminaries as Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal, San Francisco boasted a competitive squad for much of the 1960s. Alas, the only World Series in which that set of icons participated ended in angst.
The year was 1962 and the mighty Yankees were in town. The series came down to a deciding game seven. With the Giants trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth inning, McCovey lined a bullet into the glove of Bobby Richardson with the tying run on third and winning run on second. The Giants wouldn't return to baseball's brightest stage for 27 years.
The 1989 World Series is best remembered for one earth-shaking moment that had nothing to do with baseball. As the start of game one approached, a 6.9 magnitude quake devastated the Bay Area. Dozens lost their lives, thousands were injured and countless more were left homeless. After the dust settled, the Oakland A's smashed the Giants--four games to zero.
2002 may have trumped the disappointment of 1962. World Series seemingly in grasp, the Giants bullpen imploded in the late innings of game six--blowing a 5-0 lead against the Anaheim Angels. Seven outs from a World title, a shell-shocked Giants team was unable to regroup as they went out quietly in game seven.
2010 was about so much more than winning this year's title. It was the culmination of decades of near-misses. It was about erasing the memory of McCovey's line shot in '62. It was an opportunity to mute the cacophonous sound of thundersticks smacking together in Anaheim eight years ago. San Francisco can now cross its name off the list of title-starved cities. That dubious distinction now belongs solely to the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.
For the first time in history, the San Francisco Giants are World Series Champions. Words never before uttered never sounded sweeter.
The Giants exult on-field moments after the final out of Game 5 of the World Series