Barry Bonds might be the greatest living baseball player, but he has stiff competition, particularly when it comes to his fellow Giants. As you know, he’ll be the 12th player in franchise history to have his jersey number retired. You probably know all about his accomplishments, too, but in case you need a quick refresher, you can check out this post from earlier today. As for his fellow teammates, here you go:
One caveat: Christy Mathewson (Pitcher, 1900-1916) and John McGraw (NY Giants manager, 1902-1932) aren’t on this list as both players predated jerseys with numbers on them; and neither is Jackie Robinson, whose #42 was retired by all teams back in 1997.
#3 Bill Terry - 1B
Years active: 1923-1936
2,193 career hits | .341 / .393 / .506 | 1,721 games | 1 World Series win (1933) | Hit .401 in 1933
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1954 ... jersey retired by the Giants in 1984.
What SABR says about him:
Terry played very little in the first half of the 1924 season. Backing up regular first baseman George “Highpockets” Kelly, Terry played in 35 games, hitting a low .239. Terry (now often referred to by the writers as “Memphis Bill”) was a lefthand-hitting alternative to the righthand-hitting Kelly. Terry gave a splendid World Series performance as the Giants lost to the Washington Senators in seven games. Terry led all regular players on both teams with a .429 batting average and gained the distinction of being the hitter whom the great Walter Johnson admitted he least wanted to face.
What Grant Brisbee’s great great grandfather, Gornt Brisbee, the managing editor of McCovey Chronicles in the 1930s, said about him at the time:
Hey you, Charlie boy! Next time you sit down to enjoy your Gin Rickey, go have a look-see at ol’ Memphis Bill’s box score. He’s a real treat. The perfect distraction from life in these here Hoovervilles, wouldn’tya say? I’m posting this open thread now because I’m due to join my gal for an evening on the town — we’re off to see the new metal band Megaladonnybrook!
#4 Mel Ott - RF
2,876 career hits | .304 / .414 / .533| 2,730 games | 1 World Series win (1933) | 511 home runs | 1,708 walks | career 155 OPS+ (same as DiMaggio and Aaron)
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951 ... jersey retired by the Giants in 1949.
1929 was Mel’s breakthrough season. He had career highs in doubles, home runs, RBIs, runs scored and slugging percentage. His 42 homers and 151 RBIs are the most ever for players who were 20 or younger when the season began. Mel proved that he was a great hitter on the road as well at the Polo Grounds; he set still-existing National League away-from-home records for runs scored (79) and RBI (87). Moreover, he hit more home runs on the road (22) than he hit in the Polo Grounds with its short, 257-foot right field line.
In addition to his emergence as a great hitter, Ott gained recognition as a premier right fielder. Expertly playing caroms off the tricky right field wall at the Polo Grounds, he had an impressive 26 outfield assists. He never again attained so many, because baserunners learned to advance very cautiously on balls hit to the rifle-armed Ott.
What Grant Brisbee’s great grandfather, Gornt Brisbee, the managing editor of McCovey Chronicles in the 1930s, said about him at the time:
Some facts we need to know but some facts we Ott to know and that’s the sheer brilliance of Mel Ott!
#11 Carl Hubbell - LHP
253 wins | 2.98 ERA in 3,590.1 innings | 2-time MVP (1933, 1936) | 260 complete games and 36 shutouts in 433 starts
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947 ... jersey retired by the Giants in 1944.
Hubbell had what many considered his best season in 1936 as the Giants won the pennant after falling as low as fifth place in mid-July. He won a career-high 26 games, winning the MVP for the second time, in leading the Giants in a remarkable comeback. Hubbell won his last 16 decisions of the season and led all National League pitchers in wins, winning percentage, and ERA. Hubbell’s true value was best reflected by his ability to win the important games and to supply stability to the pitching staff when the older pitchers slumped and the younger pitchers foundered.
I once tried to throw a screwball with my left hand and I dang near punched out a peeper. There’s no nature in the left hand. Hubbell’s more sorcerer than man and if I had my druthers he’d be locked up in a lefty loony bin with nary a drop to drink!
#20 Monte Irvin - LF
731 hits in 764 games | .293 / .383 / .475
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973 ... jersey retired by the Giants in 2010.
Of all those who proudly wore the uniform of the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League, Monte Irvin was one of the last surviving players. He went on to a Hall of Fame career as a pioneering African American player in the major leagues.
It is his 1951 season with the New York Giants that defines Irvin’s greatness as a baseball player. He was coming off his first full year in the majors, in which he had established himself as a solid, promising cog in the Giants’ lineup. At 32 years of age, segregation had cost him his prime. With his .312 batting average, 24 home runs, and 121 runs batted in, he came close to winning the MVP award, finishing third to Roy Campanella and Stan Musial. He scored 94 runs, hit 11 triples, and drew 89 walks while only striking out 44 times, and he went 12-for-14 in steals. In the field, he more than matched his prowess at the plate with his .996 percentage, a product of only one error all season. He was fifth in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging, tied for 10th in runs scored, seventh in hits, ninth in total bases, third in triples, tied for 10th in homers, and his league-leading 121 RBIs were 12 better than his nearest competitors. It was an across-the-board outstanding season for what was essentially a rookie campaign for this veteran Negro Leaguer.
What Grant Brisbee’s grandfather, Gorant Brisbee, had to say about Monte:
There was a towering lightening storm that knocked out our beloved clock tower and most of the town’s power, so’s I was unable to watch this contest.
#24 Willie Mays - CF
3,283 career hits | .302 / .384 / .557 | 2,992 games | 2 MVP Awards | 1 World Series win (1954) | 660 home runs | 1,464 walks | career 156 OPS+ (tied for 19th overall)
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979 ... jersey retired by the Giants in 1972.
In baseball’s never-ending attempts to somehow order its gods, Mays is the only contender whose proponents rarely use statistics to make their case. It is as if Mays’s 660 home runs and 3,283 hits somehow sell the man short, that his wonderful playing record is almost beside the point. With Mays it is not merely what he did — but how he did it. He scored more than 2,000 runs, nearly all of them, it would seem, after losing his cap flying around third base. He is credited with more than 7,000 outfield putouts, many exciting, some spectacular, a few breathtaking. How do you measure that? An artist and a genius, for most of his 22 seasons in the big leagues, you simply could not keep your eyes off Willie Mays.
What Grant Brisbee’s father, Grand Brisbee, had to say on McCovey Chronicles 1972:
Even if the word has gone out of fashion, Mays is still groovy. He defined an era, and always made you feel like you were a part of the party he was throwing. We’ll never make an over the shoulder catch like he did, but we’ll always have the memory of him doing it.
#27 Juan Marichal - RHP
243 wins | 2.89 ERA in 3,507 innings | 2,303 strikeouts | 10x All-Star | 244 complete games and 52 shutouts in 457 starts
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983 ... jersey retired by the Giants in 1975.
Except for Sandy Koufax, who was otherworldly, Juan Marichal was the best pitcher—certainly the best right-hander—of the 1960s. His 191 wins exceeds Bob Gibson’s second-place 164 by a huge margin. Indeed, he won more games than Gibson in each season of the decade. He’s the only pitcher of the decade with more complete games (197) than wins. His 2.57 ERA is bettered only by Koufax’s 2.36 and Hoyt Wilhelm’s 2.16, but Wilhelm pitched fewer than 750 innings. He’s third in innings pitched behind Don Drysdale and Jim Bunning. His 45 shutouts lead the decade by four over Gibson. His 3.66 strikeouts-to-walks ratio is topped only by Koufax’s 3.73
What Grant Brisbee’s father, Grand Brisbee, had to say on McCovey Chronicles 1975:
I like to sip brandy while watching the Dominican Dandy.
#30 Orlando Cepeda - 1B
2,351 hits | .297 / .350 / .499 | 2,124 games | 1 MVP Award | 1 World Series win |
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 ... jersey retired by the Giants in 1999.
Cepeda and San Francisco were a perfect fit. While Willie Mays had starred in New York before the Giants moved west, the provincial San Franciscans considered Cepeda to be one of theirs. And the feeling was mutual. “Right from the beginning, I fell in love with the city,” Cepeda said. “There was everything that I liked. We played more day games then, so I usually had at least two nights a week free. On Thursdays, I would always go to the Copacabana to hear the Latin music. On Sundays, after games, I’d go to the Jazz Workshop for the jam sessions. At the Blackhawk, I’d hear Miles Davis, John Coltrane. … I roomed then with Felipe Alou and Ruben Gomez, but I was the only one who liked to go out at night. Felipe was very religious and quiet, and Ruben just liked to play golf, so he wasn’t a night person. But I was single, and I just loved that town.”
What Grand Brisbee had to say at the end of his run before handing things over to his teenage son:
Cepeda was your neighbor. He was your friend. And when he struck out, there was still the Cha Cha and when he hit a home run, he was the Baby Bull. I love nicknames so much that I’ve nicknamed my son Boogermouth because more than once have I seen him eat boogers.
#36 Gaylord Perry - RHP
314 wins | 3.11 ERA in 5,350 innings | 3,534 strikeouts (8th all-time) | 2 Cy Young Awards | 303 complete games and 53 shutouts in 690 starts
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 ... jersey retired by the Giants in 2005.
Gaylord Perry, one of the premier pitchers of his generation, won 314 games and struck out 3,524 batters, but his place in baseball history rests mainly with his notorious use of the spitball, or greaseball, which defied batters, humiliated umpires, and infuriated opposing managers for two decades. But make no mistake: he was also a brilliant craftsman with several excellent pitches in his repertoire, a hurler whose mastery of the spitter provided the batter yet another thing to think about as the pitch sailed toward the plate. After the game, he sheepishly denied any wrongdoing, slyly grinning like a poker player who knows he’s one step ahead of everyone else.
Doug Bruzzone, on this very site in 2016:
He had a hell of a career. He was a hell of a Giant. The man earned his statue.
#44 Willie McCovey - 1B
2,211 career hits | .270 / .374 / .515 | 2,588 games | 1 MVP Awards | Rookie of the Year | 521 home runs | 1,345 walks | career 147 OPS+ (tied for 42nd overall)
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986 ... jersey retired by the Giants in 1980.
McCovey rather emphatically forced the Giants’ hand. In late July, after 95 games, he was hitting .372 with 29 home runs and 92 RBI. That was apparently sufficient, and the Giants called him to San Francisco on July 30. “Something in the back of my mind kept asking—‘Am I good enough?’” recalled McCovey. The Giants were just 1/2 game out of first place, though they had lost their last four games and had not been scoring runs. Cepeda had done his part, hitting just as well as he had in his fine rookie year. Manager Bill Rigney decided to move Cepeda to third base to get McCovey into the lineup.
His first game was on July 30, hitting third between Willie Mays and Cepeda, facing Phillies’ ace Robin Roberts at Seals Stadium. All McCovey did was go 4-for-4 with two triples, leading the Giants to a 7-2 victory. It was one of the more impressive debuts in big league history.
Quick story: Back when I was ... four or five? ... one of my earliest memories was meeting Willie McCovey. I will chronicle this experience.— Grant Brisbee (@GrantBrisbee) February 10, 2017
(click that little Twitter bird to see the full thread.)
#25 Barry Bonds - LF
2,935 career hits | .298 / .444 / .607 | 2,986 games | 762 home runs | 2,558 walks | career 182 OPS+ (third all-time, behind Ruth at 206 and Ted Williams at 190)
Jersey retired by the Giants in 2018 ... received 56.4% of Hall of Fame votes made in 2018.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” The Bible may not have been referring to anything as crass as a baseball career, but this one sentence serves to describe Barry Bonds very well. A stellar career, rich, famous, holding many records, but his own actions and words have left him a pariah in baseball, perhaps never to attain the Hall of Fame status that he craved and that his career numbers suggest he would deserve.
What Grant Brisbee said about him after his final game:
From 1997 to 2007, we expected the Giants to win. There were some pessimists before every season - and there sure weren’t too many fans thinking this 2007 team was anything special - but having Bonds on the Giants meant the Giants had a chance.
Now? No chance. You can’t point to the worst-to-first shenanigans of the 1997 team because that team had Bonds. This team is going to be filled with the Steve Scarsones, Dax Joneses, and Desi Wilsons of our time, except there isn’t going to be a Bonds there when we find the diamonds in the rough - the Rich Aurilias and Bill Muellers. I’d love to be wrong, but the 2008 team is going to be some kind of awful.
Bonds hit one to the warning track and then limped away. Think of the warning track as 2002, and there’s your metaphor for the Bonds Era.