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    Giants Baseball Experience

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    The Latest Book From Giants Author Dan Fost

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    Orange October, 2014 version

    The Giants are teasing and torturing us yet again. I’m looking for a long run and another orange and black Halloween!

    This morning, before the Giants put the Nationals away and headed to the NLCS, I was on ESPN radio in South Dakota, talking Giants with Jeff Thurn, a very knowledgeable host who has had me on many times in the past. You can listen to it here.

    All season long, even diehard Giants fans seemed certain that this team did not have the same championship intangibles that the 2010 and 2012 squads had. I wondered: Had we forgotten how little like champs the 2010 Giants looked in the dog days of August, when the pitching staff led the league in walks, and a waiver wire pickup named Cody Ross hardly seemed like salvation? Or how dead the Giants seemed in 2012 when they lost the first two games at home to the Reds, and had to win three in Cincinnati – to say nothing of then falling behind 3-1 to St. Louis, while relying on journeyman utility infielder Marco Scutaro?

    So when all hope seemed lost in 2014… when the Dodgers won 17-0…. when the Giants had to scratch to back into the second wild card…. let’s just remember the magic that happens when Bruce Bochy, Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and a few other key cogs from our even numbered glory years put their October caps on and start competing in the playoffs. It’s a whole new ballgame.

    Here comes 2014!

    Giants Baseball Experience coverI love the arrival of spring, and all the hope it brings that a new year — even-numbered! — will cleanse the pain of the last one. (I also hope a good rainfall will come along for the cleansing, to end California’s drought.) While 2013 was decidedly painful for the Giants, I see plenty of signs for a turnaround in 2014.

    Pablo Sandoval is lean and motivated.

    Tim Lincecum is ready to complete his reinvention as a crafty pitcher, instead of a fastball chucker.

    Tim Hudson is here to help Lincecum — and he can still deal.

    And those are the three and four starters, behind the horses Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner.

    Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford keep improving; Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro are healthy; Buster Posey and Hunter Pence anchor the meat of the order; and Michael Morse has arrived to make sure there are no weak spots. The bullpen is deep (love Sergio Romo!); the bench is capable (lurve Hector Sanchez!); Bruce Bochy is the best in the business.

    And best of all: I have a new Giants book coming out!

    The Giants Baseball Experience: A Year-By-Year Chronicle From New York To San Francisco will be published by MVP Books and will be available April 3. I’ll set up a new Web site, and start planning events. The last time I had a new Giants book out — with Willie Mays on the cover, naturally — was 2010, and we all know what happened then!

    New Edition Almost Here!

    With the 2011 season rapidly approaching, so approaches the release of a revised “Giants Past and Present.” Among other things, the updated edition will have a new cover, featuring the Giants World Series celebration. I just got a glimpse of it for the first time, so here it is:

    The new edition will also feature praises from Giants Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and KNBR’s Brian Murphy. There will also be some updates in the World Series chapter, obviously.

    Although the 2010 season will be hard to top, the Giants are looking strong and hungry to defend their title. Hopefully 2011 will bring a new chapter to Giants history, and a call for much more Giants literature!

    Bring on the books!

    Last month, I finished up the revisions to “Giants Past and Present,” polishing up the tidbits about that magical 2010 season that now takes its rightful place at the forefront of Giants’ history. The plan is to have books ready for sale by Opening Day.

    It should be great. MVP Books is putting a new cover on it, featuring the Giants’ World Series celebration, and the book will have blurbs from Giants Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and KNBR’s Brian Murphy.

    Murphy, a former Chronicle colleague of mine, had already written a fantastic book for the Giants, on their 2008 golden anniversary in San Francisco, and now he’s got another one coming out. He teamed with photographer Brad Mangin on “Worth the Wait,” which is the Giants’ official book honoring the championship.

    The championship is certainly spawning a literary tidal wave. In addition to the updated “Giants Past and Present” and Murph’s book, Triumph Books had a quickie look at the Giants’ title out in time for Christmas 2010, “Giant Surprise,” and they’ve got another one on the way, which should be of higher quality, as it’s by Bay Area News Group beat writer Andrew Baggarly (one of my favorites), “A Band of Misfits.” My old pals at the San Francisco Chronicle also put out a book, “San Francisco Giants: Torture to Rapture, 2010 World Series Champions,” but it seems to be out of print already. I looked for it on eBay and only found a special Sports Illustrated commemorative issue on the Giants (which is excellent) and something called “SanFranTastic!

    My own publisher, MVP Books, also has a book coming out that should be of interest to Giant fans past and present: “Juan Marichal: My Journey From the Dominican Republic to Cooperstown,” in which the Dominican Dandy and writer Lew Freedman set down Marichal’s own story for the first time.

    I just went to my eye doctor and ordered a new prescription of glasses, so I’m ready to read.

    The Giants recognize Troy – but why?

    When the Giants won the World Series (yes!), the Record, the newspaper in Troy, NY, went on a crusade to bring the trophy to Troy, arguing that the Giants had their start as the Troy City Trojans in 1879.

    Troy is getting its way: It’s close enough to Cooperstown so I guess the Giants capitulated, and will bring the trophy there on its national tour in the spring. But it’s a pretty thin connection.

    Jim Mutrie, who helped bring major league baseball to New York

    I don’t know the sources that Troy Record writer Kevin Moran used — particularly in his pivotal assertion that John B. Day and Jim Mutrie bought the Troy franchise and moved it to New York. In the excellent book, “The Giants of the Polo Grounds” (Doubleday, 1988), author Noel Hynd lays out the history of the National League, including how after the first year, 1876, the cash-strapped New York and Philadelphia teams were booted out of the league.

    In 1881, Day, a wealthy businessman, and Mutrie, a baseball enthusiast, formed an independent team, the New York Metropolitans, or Mets, and then in 1882 applied to be in the National League , along with a team from Philly. The NL pressed Worcester and Troy to resign from the league – the two last place teams; Troy drew 25 fans to its last game, and the year before had drawn TWELVE to its last game!

    According to Hynd, the NL gave Day the New York franchise – and he then put the Mets in the rival American Association, and decided to start a new team for his National League venture. Hynd writes: “With the Troy club conveniently disbanded, its roster – even those players under ‘reserve’ – was free to be pillaged. Day promptly signed the best of them,” Roger Connor, Buck Ewing and Smiling Mickey Welch. Other players went elsewhere, including some to the Mets, and other players came from elsewhere.

    I think it’s nice that the Giants are doing it for Troy – but it’s not quite historically accurate to say they started in Troy. They started in New York as the Gothams, winning their opener in 1883 at fields that actually had been used for polo (and which were owned by New York Herald founder and publisher James Gordon Bennett), before a crowd that included former President Ulysses Grant.

    Scarce commodity

    Well, even though I had every bit of confidence in the Giants on their march to the 2010 world championship (I just love saying that!), I have to say the supply of “Giants Past and Present” was not adequate to keep up with the demand. The book is becoming hard to find.

    My publisher, MVP Books, just sent me the last of their copies, and I’ve sold all of those. I bought what seem to be the last copies available on, and now it looks like is sold out as well. There are probably still some books at some Bay Area bookstores, but I don’t know if they’ll last through Christmas.

    You could try looking at your local independent store, using the Indiebound site. On the site for my local shop, Book Passage in Corte Madera, it says the book is a “special order, subject to availability,” which doesn’t sound promising.

    That means we’ve sold 5,000 books. I hope to have a new edition – a World Series edition! – out in early 2011, and will offer details here as I get them.

    Thank you, everyone, for your support – thanks to everyone who bought the book, and thanks to all the bookstores and others who sold it. And thanks to the Giants, who brought all of us so much joy, and helped make the book such a hit!

    A great holiday gift!

    Don’t take my word for it – the San Francisco Chronicle recommends “Giants Past and Present” as one of its top holiday gift books. In the roundup, books editor John McMurtrie writes:

    Giants Past & Present, by Dan Fost (MVP Books; 144 pages; $25). It turns out to have been not a bad year to publish a coffee-table book honoring the hometown team and its bicoastal history.
    I’m in good company: other recommendations include the excellent biographies of Henry Aaron (“The Last Hero,” by Howard Bryant) and Willie Mays (eponymously titled, by James S. Hirsch), as well as “Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders,” by Peter Richmond and – my favorite – “Everything You Know Is Pong: How Mighty Table Tennis Shapes Our World,” by Roger Bennett and Eli Horowitz. (Bennett is coming to San Francisco for an event Dec. 14 that should be a blast; he’s a friend of mine and I heard his presentation on ping pong earlier this year, and it is both brilliant and hilarious.)
    In noticing my great timing — and hey, wouldn’t I love to say I knew the Giants would win the World Series when I wrote my book back in spring 2009 — McMurtrie is onto something: Since the Giants won the 2010 World Series, demand for my book has been through the roof. I’m humbled and gratified and, naturally, very grateful to the Giants! My publisher, MVP Books, tells me that they have fewer than 100 copies left in their warehouse, after an initial print run of 5,000.
    Other booksellers are running low. I heard the book was sold out at Borders in San Rafael earlier this month. Last month, I had to help out my friends at Laurel Bookstore in Oakland when they needed some in a pinch, and the Marin Country Day School book fair couldn’t get any more than 19 copies from the distributor, Ingram. We sold out of those in less than an hour on the first night of the weeklong fair; luckily I was able to provide them with 30 more copies, and they sold all of them!
    So whether you’re a bookstore or an individual fan, please let me know if you are having trouble finding the book, and I’ll do what I can to get you all the copies you need. And I’m happy to sell my copies at the author discount of $20 apiece. And with that, you can have a personal inscription as well!
    Please feel free to contact me at Happy holidays!

    World Champions!

    Harry waves his Giant rally rag as horns honk along the Embarcadero after the Giants' World Series clincher Nov. 1, 2010

    The San Francisco Giants’ whole improbable, ridiculous, joyful, torturous ride through the 2010 baseball season has ended in the most improbable, ridiculous, joyful but definitely not torturous fashion. The Giants are World Champions and San Francisco is celebrating like never before.

    The rings that the players will get are more than just symbols of this incredible season. They are pure redemption for all the incredible players who came through here before, all the close calls, near-misses, heartaches and yes, Torture, that the Giants and their fans have endured for more than a half-century in San Francisco.

    It’s redemption for Dusty Baker and Russ Ortiz and that exhausted, overworked bullpen of 2002. It’s redemption for Robb Nen who was so clutch yet couldn’t stop little Neifi Perez in 1998. It’s redemption for Saloman Torres and the 103-win team of 1993. It’s redemption for Candy Maldonado and the sliding-catch-that-wasn’t in 1987. It’s redemption for Juan Marichal, blowing his top in 1965 and blowing a pennant in the process. It’s redemption for Barry Bonds, who thrilled us on the field, but left us in the humiliating position of defending his behavior. It’s redemption for Horace Stoneham, who gave us frigid Candlestick Park, and for Bob Lurie, who tried and failed to get rid of it.

    These and so many other people have given Giant fans so many great memories, so many winning seasons, so many pennant races and playoffs that we have no right to complain. But like Chris “Mad Dog” Russo declared so plaintively after that punch to the gut from the Florida Marlins in 2003 — and yes, this is also redemption for Jose Cruz Jr., as hard as that is to write — we wanted to know what it would be like for the Giants to win just one time. Just one lousy goddamn time!

    Now we know.

    It’s amazing. Gratifying. Stupendous. Mind-boggling.

    I am soaking it all in. We screamed til we were hoarse. We leapt off chairs at Paragon, a block from the ballpark. We high-fived and hugged friends and strangers. We honked our horn all the way through the city, with every landmark – the Ferry Building, Coit Tower, City Hall – bathed in orange light.

    I heard Mike Krukow quoting J.T. Snow on the radio last night, saying this was closure for 2002.  Kruk clearly felt closure for 1987/1989, and he cited all those same players who were all pulling for this Giants team to finally exorcise those ghosts.

    I read where Buster Posey said:

    “It’s crazy to think with all the great baseball players who have come through San Francisco, there hasn’t been a World Series championship. The beautiful thing about the organization is, you’ve got guys like Will Clark here. You’ve got J.T. Snow here. You’ve got Shawon Dunston here. When we get back to San Francisco, we’ll have Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry. The list goes on and on. It’s so humbling to have won the first World Series in San Francisco. It’s unbelievable.”

    Thank you, Buster, for saying that. And thank you, Matt Cain, the longest serving Giant, who has known such hard luck and come through like such a pro. And thank you, Brian Wilson, who has defined this team and this city, from torture to the whole bearded freaky orange-and-black Halloween championship. (Neither Wilson nor Cain gave up an earned run in the playoffs!) And thank you, Bill Neukom, Brian Sabean, Bruce Bochy, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Edgar Renteria – what is redemption if not Renteria (and Bochy and Sabean), vilified by fans, turning heroic on the biggest stage of all? – thank you to all the Giants past and present for making this moment possible. Thank you Aubrey Huff, for the thong, the quotes, the home runs and most of all, the first sacrifice bunt of your career. What a sacrifice! Thank you, too, to Duane Kuiper, for giving us Torture, and to Mike Krukow, Jon Miller and Dave Flemming, for unparalleled insight and enthusiasm. Thank you to the great middle relievers, the incredible untold story of this team, and to Barry Zito, a class act and hard-luck, hard-working pitcher. Is there any Giant we don’t just love today?

    I can’t wait to see those Hall of Famers participating in the parade they long-deserved.  hope the great Willie Mays, who was in the parade that welcomed the Giants to San Francisco in 1958, will be well enough to ride in this one. I look forward to Willie McCovey, a fearsome slugger best remembered for his line drive out in 1962, getting that round of cheers from the fans who love him so much.

    Our Giant fandom has been torture at times. We reveled in the torture. How sweet it is to revel in victory instead.

    Where’s my hat!

    Part of the torture of this strange, wonderful, winning season is that the Giants hat that I have worn for years — a black, wool, fitted model with a 2002 World Series logo on the side — has gone missing.

    Dan Fost in his favorite hat, tie and shirt

    I don’t know where the hat could be, and maybe I should let it go – after all, the Giants are on a pretty good run, and superstition dictates not messing with it. (After all, Aubrey Huff has taken to wearing a thong around the clubhouse, and the team is 6-1 since he put it on.)

    Maybe it’s a sign that I’ll be getting a new hat with a 2010 World Series championship logo stitched on the side. I will gladly pay for it!

    But if I find that other hat, or a reasonable facsimile, I will be very happy indeed, and I’ll start wearing it immediately.

    Until then, I’ve taken out a white wool fitted Giants cap that I bought at the last game at Candlestick in 1992, the game that we all thought was the Giants’ last in the Bay Area before they moved to St. Petersburg. The hat was $5 — SF hats would become almost worthless after that, I suppose the reasoning went. But it turned out to be the start of a great era for the Giants.

    Dan Fost and his son at a Giants game in August; Dan in his beloved white SF cap

    Taking it to the A’s

    The Giants and A’s have a long history – one that predates their moves to the Bay Area. The New York Giants and Philadelphia A’s met several times in the first decade of the World Series, with the Giants taking the 1905 classic behind Christy Mathewson’s amazing three shutouts. Alas, the A’s roared back to beat the Giants in the Series in 1911 and 1913 (and the Giants fell to the  Red Sox in 1912 as well).

    Before they ever even met in a World Series, Giant manager John McGraw referred to Connie Mack’s A’s as a bunch of “white elephants,” part of McGraw’s contempt for the American League that had cast him out. Mack showed McGraw, however, adopting the elephant as the team mascot – the forerunner of Oakland’s friendly fuzzy pachyderm Stomper.

    Of course, the A’s moved to Kansas City in 1955, the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958, and the A’s moved to Oakland in 1968, bringing the rivalry to California. The move worked for the A’s, who roared to three straight Series wins in 1972-1974, and with one more coming at the expense of the Giants in the earthquake-marred 1989 Bay Bridge World Series.

    The two teams have been fairly competitive in the 20th century, with both of them seemingly in sync through playoff runs and rebuilding years. They appear fairly evenly matched now; the A’s swept the Giants in Oakland in interleague play in May, and the Giants returned the favor, sweeping the A’s in San Francisco in June.

    And now – did I bury the lead? – the rivalry takes on a new dimension, when I bring my “Giants Past and Present” book tour into A’s territory, and read and tell stories at Oakland’s Laurel Bookstore, 4100 MacArthur Blvd., at 7 pm Thursday, June 24.

    I hope to see you there!

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