50 Years of the San Francisco Giants - 1960

Despite much optimism and a fast start, the Candlestick Era began with less than stellar results. Adjusting to a new park and an ill-fated managerial change spelled doom for the 1960 squad.

THE 1960 SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Record: 79-75 (5th, National League)
Ballpark: Candlestick Park
Manager: Bill Rigney, then Tom Sheehan
All-Stars (3): Orlando Cepeda, Willie Mays, Mike McCormick
Awards: NL Gold Glove – Willie Mays

Well, it worked with Pac Bell Park in 2000, but the debut of Candlestick Park in 1960 did not result in instant success for the park's new inhabitants.  With great hope and fanfare on April 12, the San Francisco Giants hosted the St. Louis Cardinals in the first Opening Day game at the new ballpark, with Richard Nixon throwing out the first pitch.

The 1960 Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Don Blasingame 2B
  2. Jim Davenport 3B
  3. Willie Mays CF
  4. Willie McCovey 1B
  5. Orlando Cepeda LF
  6. Willie Kirkland RF
  7. Eddie Bressoud SS
  8. Bob Schmidt C
  9. Sam Jones P

Despite the names on the roster, 1960 was a down year offensively for the San Francisco Giants.  Power numbers in particular sagged, largely due to the move from Seals Stadium to Candlestick Park, where the stiff prevailing winds killed fly balls to left field, and foul territory was cavernous.  Mays dropped to 29 home runs, Cepeda dropped to 24, and McCovey struggled in his sophomore season (.238/13/51), and was sent down for a stint in the minors as a result.  Newly acquired Blasingame, a former All-Star with the Cardinals, led off for the Giants and went on to have the single worst batting average (.235) of any regular in the National League.

Sam Jones (18-14, 3.19 ERA) supplanted Johnny Antonelli as the ace of the staff, with Anty assuming the role as closer.  Young lefty Mike McCormick went 15-12 and led the NL in ERA at 2.70.  Jack Sanford might have finished the season with a losing record (12-14), but he led the NL with six shutouts.  And the rotation would welcome a new member in July, a lanky leg-kicking Dominican by the name of Juan Marichal.  And what a dandy of a debut he had – a complete game, 12K, 1-hit shutout versus the Philadelphia Phillies at Candlestick Park.

As in the previous season, the 1960 Giants got off to a good start, and remained in the thick of the NL race early.  In front of 42,000+ fans, Sam Jones and the Giants won their first game at Candlestick Park 2-0 versus the Cardinals.  A seven-game winning streak in early May put the Giants in first place ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Giants remained in either first or second through early June, but after defeating the Phillies 7-4 at Candlestick Park on June 17, Giants management decided to make a change at manager by choosing Tom Sheehan over incumbent Bill Rigney, with the Giants at 33-25.  The move backfired terribly, as a five-game losing streak soon ensued and pushed the team to third place.  Under Sheehan the Giants went 46-50, and limped to the finish line, finishing in fifth place and 16 games behind the Pirates, who went on to dramatically defeat the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series, thanks in large to Bill Mazeroski.

As much of a letdown as the end of the 1959 season was, 1960 was all the more disappointing because of the high expectations for the team, as many sportswriters had picked the Giants to win the pennant in the preseason.  The team performed admirably at their new home (45-32), but were underwhelming on the road (34-43), and terrible versus the top two teams in the league, the Pirates and the Milwaukee Braves (8-14 versus both).

Predictably, then, the offseason brought some significant changes.  The Giants replaced Sheehan by trading infielder Andre Rogers to the Braves in exchange for Alvin Dark, who would go on to manage the Giants for the next four seasons, sometimes under the moniker the "Swamp Fox" (more on that later).  The Giants also bid farewell to Antonelli in December, trading him and the third Willie in the starting lineup – Willie Kirkland – to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for perennial All-Star Harvey Kuenn.  Would these changes help the Giants in 1961?  Stay tuned…

The complete 1960 roster:

#5 Hobie Landrith
#6 Neil Wilson
#7 Eddie Fisher
#7 Dale Long
#9 Bob Schmidt
#10 Don Blasingame
#12 Jim Davenport
#14 Joey Amalfitano
#15 Jose Pagan
#16 Eddie Bressoud
#17 Andre Rodgers
#19 Sam Jones
#20 Don Choate
#20 Dale Long
#23 Felipe Alou
#24 Willie Mays
#25 Jim Marshall
#26 Matty Alou
#27 Juan Marichal
#28 Willie Kirkland
#28 Billy Loes
#30 Orlando Cepeda
#31 Billy O'Dell
#32 Dave Philley
#33 Jack Sanford
#35 Georges Maranda
#36 Bud Byerly
#36 Sherman Jones
#37 Stu Miller
#40 Mike McCormick
#41 Ramon Monzant
#42 Joe Shipley
#43 Johnny Antonelli
#44 Willie McCovey



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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