50 Years | Giants in SF | 1973

Young and talented, the 1973 Giants took a step in the right direction, but still came up short to a machine-like effort by an NL powerhouse.


Record: 88-74 (Third | National League West)

Ballpark: Candlestick Park

Manager: Charlie Fox

All-Stars (2): Bobby Bonds, Chris Speier

Awards: Sporting News Player of the Year > Bobby Bonds

Sporting News Pitcher of the Year > Ron Bryant

NL Rookie of the Year > Gary Matthews

NL Gold Glove > Bobby Bonds

The post-Willie Mays era continued for the San Francisco Giants in 1973, and it truly would be the end of an era by the end of the calendar year.

The 1973 Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Bobby Bonds RF
  2. Tito Fuentes 2B
  3. Chris Speier SS
  4. Willie McCovey 1B
  5. Garry Maddox CF
  6. Al Gallagher 3B
  7. Gary Matthews LF
  8. Dave Rader
  9. Juan Marichal P

An outfield without Mays and Ken Henderson (traded to the Chicago White Sox during the offseason) meant that youngsters Garry Maddox and Gary Matthews received a great deal of playing time alongside Bobby Bonds. Al Gallagher was traded very early in the season, which allowed two more youngsters -- Ed Goodson and Dave Kingman -- to share the bulk of playing time at the hot corner. The 1973 Giants were thus once again a mostly young lineup, as no other regular other than Willie McCovey (35) and Juan Marichal (35) was over the age of 30.

McCovey (.266/29/75) was back to play the majority of the season after suffering a broken arm in 1972. The offensive star, however, was quickly shifting to the talented Bonds (.283/39/96, 43 steals) who displayed a then-unparalleled combination of speed and power from a single player. Bonds' amazing accomplishments were recognized in some respects – he won a Gold Glove and the Sporting News named him the Player of the Year in 1973; however, he finished a distant third in the NL MVP voting behind runner-up Willie Stargell and winner Pete Rose.

The two Garys/Garrys -- Matthews (.300/12/58, 17 steals) and Maddox (.319/11/76, 24 steals) -- had eerily similar productive seasons, and Matthews earned the NL Rookie of the Year honors. Along with another youthful player, All-Star Chris Speier (.249/11/71), the young Giants offense were good enough to score 4.56 runs per game, third best in the NL.

Pitching, however, was for the most part again a source of weakness. Juan Marichal (11-15, 3.82) once again won an Opening Day start -- his final such victory -- but again finished the season with a losing record. Sam McDowell (1-2, 4.50), the man for whom the Giants traded Gaylord Perry in 1971, only lasted with the ballclub until early June, when he was sold to the New York Yankees. Tom Bradley (13-12, 3.90), the man for whom the Giants traded Henderson a few months prior, fared better.

However, the undisputed best Giants pitcher in 1973 was former Giants' 22nd round pick Ron Bryant (24-12, 3.53) whose career year allowed him to win the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year and finish third in the NL Cy Young award voting. Despite this, the team again finished fourth from last in the NL in team ERA (3.79).

San Francisco established itself as a serious contender early on during the season. Marichal and the Giants got off on the right foot by defeating the defending NL champion Cincinnati Reds 4-1 at Riverfront Stadium on Opening Day, and taking two out of three in the series. The team followed this series by winning their first five home games, sweeping two-game series against the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros. After losing three out of four against the Reds at Candlestick Park during April 13-15, the Giants rebounded by putting together five- and six-game winning streaks to close out April atop the NL West with a record of 18-6.

The team had a few blowout wins in the first month -- including 11-2 over the Padres and a 15-2 stomping of the Atlanta Braves that featured four hits apiece by Speier and Goodson -- but for the most part, the wins came as a result of good starting pitching from Marichal, Bryant, Bradley, and Jim Barr.

Treading water during the first half of May, the Giants stayed in first until May 18, when they lost three out of four to the Astros at the Astrodome. The Giants quickly rebounded, however, and pulled off a seven-game winning streak that included three-game sweeps of the Philadelphia Phillies at home and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium. Despite this winning streak, the Giants finished off June poorly, as they lost the next five series in a row -- including a three sweep at the hands of the Montreal Expos immediately after leaving Pittsburgh.

This slip up allowed the surging Los Angeles Dodgers, who conversely went 21-8 in June, to overtake the Giants for first place in the NL West. San Francisco concluded the first half of the season with four wins in a row, but at the All-Star break they sat third in the NL, behind the front-running Dodgers and the surprising Reds, who finally began to emerge in July after a slow start.

Despite some valiant play in the second half, the Giants only managed to escape third place for one day in the second half of the season. This occurred at the beginning of September when the team won seven games in a row at home, including a three-game sweep of first place Los Angeles that contributed to a nine-game Dodgers slide at a most inopportune in the season.

However, the team could muster up no other significant winning streaks, and despite the Dodgers rallying to win eight of their last ten games of the season, the NL West again went to the Reds, who put together two separate seven-game winning streaks down the stretch. Cincinnati, however, would fall to the New York Mets in the NLCS, and Bay Area fans again had an alternative reason to rejoice, as the cross town Oakland Athletics defeated these Mets in another seven game thriller to win their second consecutive World Series.

Despite a third-place finish, the Giants had to believe their fortunes were headed in the right direction. A youthful and talented outfield and Bryant's magnificent year were a few reasons for optimism. But Giants management shocked its fans in the offseason when they parted ways with two aging legends -- trading away McCovey to the Padres for young lefty Mike Caldwell in October, then selling Marichal to the Boston Red Sox in December. Thus entering the mid-1970s, the Giants were indeed entering a brave new world. How would they fare without their old stars? Stay tuned…

The complete 1973 roster:

#3 Mike Sadek

#10 Al Gallagher

#10 Mike Phillips

#12 Gary Thomasson

#14 Dave Rader

#16 Jim Ray Hart

#16 Steve Ontiveros

#17 Chris Arnold

#18 Damaso Blanco

#19 Jim Howarth

#21 Ed Goodson

#23 Tito Fuentes

#25 Bobby Bonds

#26 Dave Kingman

#27 Juan Marichal

#29 Bruce Miller

#30 Don Carrithers

#31 Garry Maddox

#32 Ron Bryant

#33 Jim Barr

#34 John D'Acquisto

#35 Chris Speier

#36 Gary Matthews

#38 Elias Sosa

#39 Randy Moffitt

#40 Tom Bradley

#42 Jim Willoughby

#43 John Morris

#44 Willie McCovey

#47 Don McMahon

#48 Sam McDowell

#49 Charlie Williams

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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