There are a few things that I will never shut up about. That Jeff Brantley watched me in West Side Story. That "Randy Johnson" is a really dirty name. That Buster Posey is good. There's a whole bunch, and you could probably make a drinking game out of them.
But my new fascination is with attendance in the '70s. People were too busy taking music and listening to drugs in the '70s to enjoy baseball. Was there a field close to the Moon Tower? No? Forget it, then. And when it comes to teams with wretched attendance in the '70s, the Giants and Braves were especially wretched. Which is funny now, seeing as those two franchises are among the healthiest in professional sports. But it wasn't funny then.
So for no good reason other than to commemorate the start of a Giants/Braves series that will be watched by a lot of folks, here are the five least-attended Giants/Braves games in the 1970s:
5. Wednesday, September 24, 1975 - Atlanta Stadium - Attendance: 1,045
What people missed: Eleven innings, with the Braves coming from behind in the 11th. Jim Barr started and went 10⅔ innings (!) before Gary Lavelle came in and walked in the winning run with two outs. Now that's some hot relieving! Some guy named Dusty Baker got the hit that tied the game
4. Tuesday, September 13, 1977 - Candlestick Park - Attendance: 1,029
What people missed: A Bill Madlock walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th. Maybe they counted the attendance at the end of the game, after a lot of people left? Dunno. They also would have missed Dale Murphy catching and going 3-for-6 with two doubles, as well as Johnny LeMaster taking a walk. Jim Barr started this game, too, so apparently a Barr start was the exact opposite of a Vogey start. Billie Jean King's brother got the win, striking out six in 2⅔ innings.
Also, I actually had a dream that Bill Madlock died -- no joke -- within the last week, and I didn't remember it until I wrote that. That's more than a little freaky. First, I'm having dreams with Bill Madlock in them. Second, when I have dreams that I don't remember until a week later, it makes me think that it was put there by someone in a Truman Show-like control room.
3. Tuesday, September 6, 1977 - Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium - Attendance: 877
What people missed: A Bob Knepper masterpiece, and a Willie McCovey dinger. McCovey was pulled in the fifth, though, because he was hurt on a double-play grounder. The Giants won 12-2, disappointing hundreds of Braves fans.
2. Monday, September 15, 1975 - Candlestick Park - Attendance: 851
What people missed: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The Braves won 12-0, and the beer was too expensive. Dusty Baker had two doubles and a triple, and Cito Gaston went 1-for-3. The Giants featured this lineup:
1. Von Joshua - CF
2. Mike Sadek - C
3. Bobby Murcer - RF
4. Gary Matthews - LF
5. Willie Montanez - 1B
6. Chris Speier - 3B
7. Bruce Miller - 2B
8. Johnny LeMaster - SS
9. Pete Falcone - P
Matthews would later sign with the Braves for a huge, five-year, $1.2 million deal.
1. Monday, September 16, 1974 - Candlestick Park - Attendance: 748
What people missed: A rollicking hour and 38 minutes of baseball. Jim Barr was the starting pitcher again, and I'm assuming that he stood on the mound and read The Great Gatsby like Andy Kaufman. Bobby Bonds hit a homer, and Tito Fuentes played his eighth-last game as a Giant in Candlestick Park. Dusty Baker hit a home run, and I'm starting to get the impression that he was the Scott Hairston of the '70s.
You didn't ask for it, but there you go. The least-attended Giants/Braves games of the '70s. Man, what a weird decade for baseball.