50 Years of the San Francisco Giants - 1965

David Bowie wouldn't sing it for another few years, but 1965 was a season that initiated some ch-ch-ch-changes for the Giants – all beginning with a manager at the top and a fallen superstar.


Record: 95-67 (2nd, National League)
Ballpark: Candlestick Park
Manager: Herman Franks
All-Stars (2): Juan Marichal, Willie Mays
Awards: NL MVP – Willie Mays
NL Gold Glove – Willie Mays

1965 saw the beginning of the Herman Franks era of San Francisco Giants baseball – four winning seasons, but complete with some of the usual agonizing finishes.

The 1965 Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Harvey Kuenn LF
  2. Hal Lanier 2B
  3. Willie Mays CF
  4. Jim Ray Hart 3B
  5. Willie McCovey 1B
  6. Jesus Alou RF
  7. Tom Haller C
  8. Jose Pagan SS
  9. Juan Marichal P

Noticeably absent from this lineup was Orlando Cepeda, who played in only 33 games due to an injured knee.  This meant that McCovey finally was given the opportunity to play his natural position on a regular basis.  This, however, was just the tip of the iceberg of roster changes in 1965.  A slow start by the club initiated a whirlwind of transactions beginning in May, including the departures of former or current starters Chuck Hiller, Jose Pagan, Harvey Kuenn, Ed Bailey, and Jack Sanford.

Not going anywhere, however, was the Giants biggest superstar, Willie Mays.  While others at 34 were starting to plan for retirement, the Say Hey Kid had yet another monster season (.317/52/112) and was rewarded with the NL MVP award.  McCovey (.276/39/92) once again rebounded from a poor previous season, and last year's surprise, youngster Jim Ray Hart (.299/23/96), proved his rookie campaign was no fluke.  Such performances helped offset the loss of Cepeda, and the 1965 Giants actually had very comparable offensive numbers to their 1964 campaign.

Pitching, however, was for the most part improved from the previous season.  Bob Hendley, who had come over in the Felipe Alou deal, struggled early and was traded away in May, but another Bob from that trade, Bob Shaw, was pulled from his closer role and found success as a starter (16-9, 2.64).  Bobby Bolin (14-6, 2.96) and Ron Herbel (12-9, 3.85) also emerged from the bullpen to make some key spot starts down the stretch.  Youngster Frank Linzy assumed the role of closer, and responded brilliantly (9-3, 1.43, 21 saves).  And Juan Marichal had his usual brilliant season (22-13, 2.13) only to be outdone again for the Cy Young by the immaculate Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Sandy Koufax (26-8, 2.04), who once again won the award with a unanimous vote.  Lastly, spending the final few months of his Hall of Fame career in San Francisco was 44-year old longtime Milwaukee Braves great Warren Spahn, who flashed some of his old stuff by hurling three complete games in 16 appearances for the ballclub.

Unlike previous seasons, the 1965 Giants got off to a poor start.  Marichal blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates for nine innings on Opening Day, but surrendered a leadoff home run in the bottom of the tenth at Forbes Field to lose the ballgame 1-0.  An 8-11 start placed the Giants in an unfamiliar eighth place in the NL on May 3, and prompted management to make a series of roster changes.  Still, the ballclub managed to hang around the .500 mark until a five-game winning streak to close out May put them in second place, just three games behind the front-running Dodgers.  The Giants regressed to third and fourth place in June and July, but then mustered up an eight-game winning streak in early August to again creep back into second place.

Like 1964, the rest of the 1965 season was a mad multi-team dash to the finish line, this time between the Giants, Dodgers, Milwaukee Braves, and the Cincinnati Reds.  The Giants hovered between second and third place throughout August, but then broke off a season-long 14-game winning streak in early September, and held a 4 ½ game lead as late as September 16.  Generous scheduling aided them greatly – during this streak they defeated the Houston Astros six straight times, including a 12-3 thrashing at Candlestick Park on September 8, and finished the season an incredible 15-3 against the still-young Texas franchise.

Sadly, however, the Giants finished the season by playing .500 ball immediately after this long winning streak, which provided their competitors – one in particular – the opportunity to catch up.  The Giants lost their lead during the final week of the regular season, thank in large to the Dodgers' own 13-game winning streak and an incredible 15-1 finish.  A four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds at Candlestick Park during the final weekend would have resulted in a tie atop the NL; however, the Giants split the series and ended up two games behind the Dodgers, who rode their hot streak to win the World Series in seven games over the Minnesota Twins.

Thus ended another wild but ultimately frustrating season of San Francisco Giants baseball.  However, after the whirlwind roster moves made during the season, Giants management liked what it saw for the most part of the second half of the season, and kept the team mostly intact.  They probably figured that a better start and the return of a healthy Cepeda would finally get them over the hump in 1966.  Right?  Um, well…

The complete 1965 roster:

#1 Bob Barton
#1 Randy Hundley
#2 Jack Hiatt
#5 Tom Haller
#6 Ed Bailey
#6 Dick Bertell
#7 Len Gabrielson
#7 Harvey Kuenn
#10 Bob Schroder
#12 Jim Davenport
#14 Jesus Alou
#15 Jose Pagan
#15 Dick Schofield
#16 Jim Ray Hart
#17 Cap Peterson
#21 Len Gabrielson
#21 Warren Spahn
#22 Hal Lanier
#23 Tito Fuentes
#23 Ken Henderson
#24 Willie Mays
#25 Bob Burda
#26 Chuck Hiller
#27 Juan Marichal
#29 Bob Shaw
#30 Orlando Cepeda
#32 Bill Hands
#33 Jack Sanford
#34 Ron Herbel
#35 Frank Linzy
#36 Gaylord Perry
#37 Masanori Murakami
#38 Dick Estelle
#38 Bob Hendley
#41 Matty Alou
#42 Bobby Bolin
#44 Willie McCovey
#45 Jim Duffalo
#45 Bill Henry
#47 Bob Priddy
#48 Ollie Brown

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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