50 Years | Giants in SF | 1970

How would the San Francisco Giants usher in the 1970s? Another second place finish? More Willie McCovey deep flies? Marichal k's? Well, sort of.


Record: 86-76 (3rd, National League West)

Ballpark: Candlestick Park

Manager: Clyde King and Charlie Fox

All-Stars (4): Dick Dietz, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry

A mid-season managerial change is almost never a good indication. Was it so in 1970 for the San Francisco Giants?

The 1970 Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Bobby Bonds RF
  2. Al Gallagher 3B
  3. Willie Mays CF
  4. Willie McCovey 1B
  5. Ken Henderson LF
  6. Dick Dietz C
  7. Tito Fuentes 2B
  8. Hal Lanier SS
  9. Gaylord Perry P

Due to a reaction to penicillin in the spring of 1970, Juan Marichal began the season injured; thus Gaylord Perry broke Marichal's streak of six straight Opening Day starts. Youngster Al Gallagher took over the every day role at third base from error-prone Jim Ray Hart and longtime and original San Francisco Giant Jim Davenport, who was released in July. Youngsters Bobby Bonds and Ken Henderson were now fixtures in the outfield, and the departure of Jack Hiatt via the expansion draft meant that Dick Dietz received the lion's share of starts at catcher, where he became an All Star. And after a season in the minors, Tito Fuentes returned to the Major League roster and split time with incumbent Ron Hunt.

Unlike the previous season, the 1970 Giants offense received a more even production from the entire lineup, the end result being a squad that lead the Major League with 5.13 runs per game. Five players – Bonds (.302/26/78), Dietz (.300/22/107), Henderson (.294/17/88), Willie Mays (.291/28/83 at age 39), and reigning MVP Willie McCovey (.289/39/126, homering in every park in the NL that season) – hit at least 17 home runs. Leadoff hitter Bonds and number five hitter Henderson also provided the Giants offense with the element of speed, with 48 and 20 steals respectively.

Pitching, however, was the exact opposite story, as the 1970 Giants finished dead last in baseball by allowing 5.1 runs per game. Perry (23-13, 3.20) pitched brilliantly for the most part, but Marichal (12-10, 4.12) was affected significantly by his aforementioned troubles, and was never really the same pitcher again. No other starter – including youngsters Rich Robertson (8-9, 4.85), Skip Pitlock (5-5, 4.66), and Frank Reberger (7-8, 5.57) – had an ERA under 4.50. This included former Cy Young winner Mike McCormick (3-4, 6.20), who was traded away in July.

After losing the opener at home 8-5 to the Houston Astros on April 7, the Giants continued a disturbing recent trend by playing .500 ball for the first few months. The team was quickly losing ground in the NL West, then on May 23, they essentially hit rock bottom – blowing an early 8-0 lead at home versus the San Diego Padres to eventually lose the ballgame 17-16 in 15 agonizing innings. The Giants front office acted swiftly following this loss by canning Clyde King and replacing him with minor league manager Charlie Fox.

Fox inherited a situation that initially didn't improve very much – the team continued to win some, then lose the same amount to reach the All-Star break in fourth place at 41-44, a distant 19 ½ games behind Sparky Anderson and the powerhouse Cincinnati Reds – the first of many installments in Big Red Machine era.

With a seemingly insurmountable deficit to make up, the Giants nevertheless played better in the second half. Giants pitching continued to give up the occasional stinker, but the staff gave up 158 runs less in the second half than they did prior to the All-Star break. The team enjoyed a 20-11 August which included early two-game sweeps of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Reds, and concluded with a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Candlestick Park. The second game of the latter series, played on August 29, saw the Giants rally late from a 9-2 deficit with seven runs in the bottom of the eighth inning – thanks to three Giants home runs by Mays, Hart, and a two-out grand slam by Bonds – to tie the ballgame, then win the ballgame via a Bonds two-out single in the bottom of the tenth inning.

The Giants continued their winning ways into September, and would have finished the season in second place (again!) if not for a season-ending four-game sweep at the hands of the Astros at the Astrodome. Still, the end result of the Giants' 1970 season was finishing 16 games behind the pennant-winning Reds, who ran out of gas in the World Series versus the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles featured a well-balanced lineup consisting of AL MVP Boog Powell and the two Robinsons (World Series MVP Brooks, and Frank), and three 20-game winners – All Stars Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally, and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer.

The Orioles' 1970 rotation made any other teams' pitchers look ordinary; however, a comparison with the Giants' rotation was particularly embarrassing, and upgrades were severely necessary. On the bright side, a blend of youth and veteran bats resulted in a potent Giants offense, and the team seemed to respond well to Charlie Fox. Could fans hope for a better finish in '71? Stay tuned…

The complete 1970 roster:

#2 Dick Dietz

#5 John Stephenson

#10 Al Gallagher

#12 Jim Davenport

#14 George Foster

#15 Ken Henderson

#16 Jim Ray Hart

#17 Bob Heise

#18 Russ Gibson

#19 Bob Burda

#20 Bernie Williams

#21 Don Mason

#22 Hal Lanier

#23 Tito Fuentes

#24 Willie Mays

#25 Bobby Bonds

#26 Ron Bryant

#27 Juan Marichal

#29 Tito Fuentes

#30 Don Carrithers

#31 Bob Taylor

#32 Ron Bryant

#33 Ron Hunt

#34 Ed Goodson

#35 Jerry Johnson

#35 Frank Linzy

#36 Gaylord Perry

#37 Frank Johnson

#37 Steve Whitaker

#38 Skip Pitlock

#39 Frank Reberger

#40 John Cumberland

#40 Mike McCormick

#41 Mike Davison

#41 Miguel Puente

#44 Willie McCovey

#45 Rich Robertson

#47 Bill Faul

#47 Don McMahon

#49 Jim Johnson

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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