50 Years of the San Francisco Giants - 1958

Has it really been 50 years since the Giants bid adieu to the Polo Grounds and moved west to the City by the Bay? For the San Francisco Giants' Golden Jubilee anniversary year, SFDugout takes a weekly look back at the past 50 years of Giants baseball, year by year and team by team. First up: the original 1958 squad.


Record: 80-74 (3rd, National League West)
Ballpark: Seals Stadium
Manager: Bill Rigney
All-Stars (3): Johnny Antonelli, Willie Mays, Bob Schmidt
Awards: Rookie of the Year – Orlando Cepeda

New York's loss was the Bay Area's gain, as the Giants were welcomed to San Francisco with great fanfare in 1958.  They won their first regular season game in San Francisco – an 8-0 drubbing of an old/new rival, the now-Los Angeles Dodgers, at minuscule Seals Stadium (capacity 22,900) – and finished April in first place with a 9-5 record. 

The first-ever San Francisco Giants opening day lineup:

  1. Jim Davenport 3B
  2. Jim King LF
  3. Willie Mays CF
  4. Willie Kirkland RF
  5. Orlando Cepeda 1B
  6. Daryl Spencer SS
  7. Danny O'Connell 2B
  8. Valmy Thomas C
  9. Ruben Gomez P

Noticeably absent from this roster is outfielder Bobby Thompson, he of the "shot heard ‘round the world" fame, as he was traded to the Chicago Cubs shortly before the season began.

The Giants were still in first place on June 8 – the debut game of a young, brain-alive Caribbean hitter named Felipe Alou – but then proceeded to lose five games in a row.  A 4-3 Giants victory against the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field on July 29 put them back in first place, but a six-game losing streak ensured that the Giants would never see first place again that season.  The Giants ended up finishing 12 games behind the repeat NL champion Milwaukee Braves, who lost the World Series to the New York Yankees in seven games.

Despite their finish, the 1958 Giants gave their fans plenty to cheer about.  The Giants went 44-33 at Seals Stadium, and they got the better of their fellow transplanted New York rivals by going 16-6 against the Dodgers, including two lopsided victories that spoiled the Dodgers' weekend home debut at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (the Giants outscored the Dodgers 28-12 in the three-game series).  Rookie first baseman Orlando Cepeda was the Opening Day first baseman, and capped a stellar season (.312/25/96 with 38 doubles) by winning the NL Rookie of the Year award.  Rookie Jim Davenport began what would be a productive 13-year big league career, all with the Giants.  Yet another rookie, catcher Bob Schmidt, joined incumbent superstar Willie Mays and pitcher Johnny Antonelli as Giants representative at the All-Star Game in Baltimore.

1958 was the just the beginning for the San Francisco Giants, in more ways than one.  Felipe Alou got his start that year, and the Giants signed his brother, Jesus Alou, and youngster Gaylord Perry as amateur free agents during the season.  After the season, the Giants traded away the Opening Day battery of Valmy Thomas and Ruben Gomez to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Jack Sanford, who would become a stalwart of the rotation for the next few seasons.  While it would still be several years until the Giants return to postseason play, the groundwork and key pieces were all starting to come together in 1958.

The complete 1958 roster:

#6 Hank Sauer
#7 Valmy Thomas
#10 Ray Jablonski
#12 Jim Davenport
#14 Don Taussig
#15 Andre Rodgers
#16 Eddie Bressoud
#17 Jim Finigan
#17 Bill White
#19 Danny O'Connell
#20 Daryl Spencer
#22 Jackie Brandt
#22 Jim King
#22 Danny O'Connell
#23 Bob Speake
#24 Willie Mays
#25 Whitey Lockman
#27 Bob Schmidt
#28 Ruben Gomez
#28 Willie Kirkland
#30 Orlando Cepeda
#31 Paul Giel
#32 Al Worthington
#35 Pete Burnside
#35 John Fitzgerald
#37 Stu Miller
#38 Gordon Jones
#38 Joe Shipley
#39 Curt Barclay
#39 Leon Wagner
#40 Mike McCormick
#41 Ramon Monzant
#42 Marv Grissom
#43 Johnny Antonelli
#44 Ray Crone
#44 Don Johnson
#45, #47 Nick Testa
#48 Jim Constable
#48 Dom Zanni
#49 Felipe Alou

Don Shin eats, breathes, thinks, and bleeds in Orange and Black. Pac Bell Park officially opened on his 25th birthday (the one year he decided to move out of the Bay Area!!!). For the 2000 playoff drive, he dyed his hair orange while studying in Korea. He watched Game 6 of the '02 World Series at a restaurant in LA, and couldn't finish his meal afterwards. Feel free to write him at dongsoo411@yahoo.com to commiserate, cheer, and complain.

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