50 Years | Giants in SF | 1974

With the Golden State Warriors the talk of the Bay Area these days, let's take a look back at how the San Francisco Giants fared the last time the Warriors went on to win the NBA Championship, in a magical season beginning in 1974. The Giants, unfortunately, experienced a totally different kind of magic that year.


Record: 72-90 (Fifth | National League West)

Ballpark: Candlestick Park

Manager: Charlie Fox and Wes Westrum

All-Stars (1): Chris Speier

Awards: NL Gold Glove > Bobby Bonds

The youth movement was fully underway for the 1974 San Francisco Giants, and along with it came a lot of growing pains. But unlike the sitcom of the same name that would air a decade later, Giants fans found little to laugh about this season.

The 1974 Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Bobby Bonds RF
  2. Tito Fuentes 2B
  3. Garry Maddox CF
  4. Gary Matthews LF
  5. Steve Ontiveros 1B
  6. Dave Kingman 3B
  7. Chris Speier SS
  8. Ken Rudolph C
  9. Tom Bradley P

With Tito Fuentes as the elder statesmen of the lineup at age 30, this was indeed a new era for the Giants. Everyone in the young Opening Day lineup with the exception of catcher Ken Rudolph (who soon gave way to incumbent Dave Rader) ended up playing the lion's share at their respective positions during the regular season. Dave Kingman started the season at third, but quickly switched corners with the better-fielding Steve Ontiveros; thus Kingman was the first of many sluggers to come who attempted to fill the huge void at first left by the departure of Willie McCovey. And with Juan Marichal no longer on the team and last year's surprise pitcher, Ron Bryant, unavailable at the beginning of the season, Tom Bradley made the Opening Day start (in front of a minuscule 17k fans at Candlestick Park on April 5), and pitched well enough for the 5-1 victory over the Houston Astros.

With McCovey gone, the undisputed star of this young offense was the do-it-all Bobby Bonds (.256/21/71, 41 steals), who began the season in a slump. He was joined in the outfield by the talented young Gary/Garry combination, Matthews (.287/16/82) and Maddox (.284/8/50, 21 steals) -- who combined to strike out one less time than the free-swinging Bonds (134k). Yet with another free swinger – Kingman (.223/18/55, 125k) -- underperforming in the lineup, the Giants offense failed have any player score more than 100 run or drive in more than 85, and consequently finished third from last in the NL in runs scored at 3.91 runs per game.

Giants pitching in 1974 was at times solid, but underwhelming for the most part. Only two regular starters -- Jim Barr (13-9, 2.74) and Mike Caldwell (14-5, 2.95), the player that came over from San Diego in the McCovey trade -- finished the season with winning records. Bryant (3-15, 5.61) regressed badly from his 24-win campaign the previous season, and with Bradley (8-11, 5.16) also struggling, the Giants pushed into the mix a couple of young righthanders, 22-year old John D'Acquisto (12-14, 3.77) and 23-year old Ed Halicki (1-8, 4.24). And towards the end of the season Giants fans also saw a bit of the flamboyant youngster John Montefusco, who would make quite a name for himself beginning in 1975. In '74, however, the Giants finished fourth from last in the NL in team ERA at 3.78.

The first two weeks of the 1974 regular season went well -- unfortunately, these would be the best two weeks for the Giants that season. The Giants started the season with a 5-1 homestand, sweeping the Houston Astros during the opening weekend, and taking two out of three versus the defending NL West champion Cincinnati Reds. But beginning in San Diego against old friend McCovey and the Padres on April 12, the Giants proceeded to undo their great start on the road, losing two out of three to the Padres and returning the favor to the Astros in Houston by losing three games in a row at the Astrodome. The Giants continued to play .500 ball until May, when an 8-5 road trip briefly put the team in second place in the West at 20-17, seven and a half games behind the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Giants could not put together any sort of winning streak in June, and after concluding a dismal 3-10 road trip that included six losses in a row in Los Angeles and San Diego, the Giants hosted the Dodgers on June 28 with a new manager at the helm, former New York Giants catcher and original member of the San Francisco Giants coaching staff Wes Westrum. However, by this point the Giants were already in fifth place, 16 1/2 games out, and under Westrum's leadership the team didn't fare much better –--with the exception of one day in which the Giants fell into the NL West cellar behind the Padres on July 2, the team remained in fifth for the entire remainder of the season. Aided greatly by their hot start, the Dodgers went on to win the NL West. But once again it was the team across the Bay that drank champagne at the conclusion of the World Series, as the Oakland Athletics defeated the Dodgers in five games to win their third consecutive world championship.

A losing season of such magnitude suggests significant offseason changes. The Giants made such a move by unloading their best player -- the disgruntled Bonds, who was benched and fined early on in the season by then-manager Charlie Fox-- to the New York Yankees in exchange for All-Star outfielder Bobby Murcer. The Giants also unloaded their other strikeout-prone hitter, Dave Kingman, by selling him to the New York Mets the following February. Kingman would never really figure out the strike zone for the remainder of his career; however, he would go on to hit 73 home runs in his next two seasons as a Met. The Giants also said goodbye to longtime second baseman Tito Fuentes via trade, thereby making the roster even younger. But management made no moves to bring in a pitcher, ostensibly hoping that their young crop of arms would develop into winners. Would they be right? Stay tuned…

The complete 1974 roster:

#2 Ken Rudolph

#6 Ken Rudolph

#10 Mike Phillips

#12 Dave Rader

#12 Gary Thomasson

#16 Steve Ontiveros

#17 Chris Arnold

#18 Damaso Blanco

#19 Jim Howarth

#20 Glenn Redmon

#21 Ed Goodson

#23 Tito Fuentes

#25 Bobby Bonds

#26 Dave Kingman

#28 Ed Halicki

#29 Bruce Miller

#30 John Boccabella

#31 Garry Maddox

#32 Ron Bryant

#33 Jim Barr

#34 John D'Acquisto

#35 Chris Speier

#36 Gary Matthews

#37 Mike Caldwell

#38 Elias Sosa

#39 Randy Moffitt

#40 Tom Bradley

#41 Don Rose

#42 Jim Willoughby

#43 Steve Barber

#43 John Morris

#46 Gary Lavelle

#47 Don McMahon

#48 Butch Metzger

#49 Charlie Williams

#50 John Montefusco

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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