50 Years | Giants in SF | 1975

Across the Bay in 1975, the party was on; the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship, and the Oakland Athletics were three-time defending World Series champions. What was going on in the City by the Bay? A youth movement that had legs at times, but otherwise continued its growing pains.


Record: 80-81 (Third, National League West)

Ballpark: Candlestick Park

Manager: Wes Westrum

All-Stars (1): Bobby Murcer

Awards: NL Rookie of the Year > John Montefusco

NL Gold Glove > Garry Maddox

In 1975, manager Wes Westrum had a full season to prove himself with a young San Francisco Giants lineup.

The 1975 Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Garry Maddox CF
  2. Derrel Thomas 2B
  3. Gary Thomasson 1B
  4. Bobby Murcer RF
  5. Gary Matthews LF
  6. Chris Speier SS
  7. Steve Ontiveros 3B
  8. Dave Rader C
  9. Jim Barr P

Jim Barr made the third different Giants Opening Day starting pitcher in as many seasons. Two newcomers, Derrel Thomas and Bobby Murcer, replaced the players for whom they were traded -- Tito Fuentes and Bobby Bonds, respectively. But speaking of trades, the Gary/Garry team was broken up early in the season, as the struggling Garry Maddox was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies on May 4 for first baseman Willie Montanez, who ended up playing the lion's share at first for the Giants. Replacing Maddox in the outfield was former Los Angeles Dodgers part-time player Von Joshua, who was selected off of waivers in late January.

The loss of Bonds accentuated an overall power outage in the lineup, as no Giant hit more than 12 home runs in 1975 -- something that was unheard of with the powerhouse teams of the 1960s. However, the offense made up for this by hitting for average – no regular hit under .271, nor did any of them strike out over 91 times. Led by the All-Star Murcer (.298/11/91), the speedy Thomas (.276/6/48, 28 steals, 99 runs scored) at or near the top of the lineup, and the surprising Joshua (.318/7/43, 20 steals), the Giants offense ranked in the middle of the NL pack in runs scored with 4.09 runs per game.

Giants pitching was overall pedestrian in terms of team ERA (3.74); however, the staff was not without its moments. Last year's Opening Day pitcher, Tom Bradley, pitched sparingly due to injuries -- he missed all of May and most of June. Barr (13-14, 3.06) and young Pete Falcone (12-11, 4.17) picked up the slack in terms of innings, but lefty Mike Caldwell (7-13, 4.79) regressed badly from his stellar first year in San Francisco. Righthander Ed Halicki (9-13, 3.49) might have finished the season with a losing record, but he struck out 153 batters in 159-plus innings, and on an August 24 game at Candlestick Park, he was better than any pitcher that day, as he no-hit the New York Mets, striking out 10 batters.

But aside from Halicki's no-no, the top story in 1975 was undoubtedly the flamboyant pitching of John Montefusco (15-9, 2.88, second in the NL with 215 strikeouts), who went on to earn NL Rookie of the Year honors. The "Count" had already endeared himself to Giants fan the previous season by not only defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in nine innings of relief pitching in his first Major League appearance, but homering in his first official at-bat. In 1976 he began the season with a complete game shutout of the Atlanta Braves on April 13, and though he experienced some rough patches, he threw in enough gems in 243-plus innings -- perhaps none bigger than the nine innings of shutout ball he tossed against the Dodgers in a 1-0 victory at Chavez Ravine on Independence Day, a shutout that the Count brashly predicted before the game. He likely sealed his ROY award with back-to-back complete games to end the season, allowing one run while striking out 11 versus one walk in defeating the San Diego Padres twice.

Bus aside from the Count and Halicki's theatrics, the main theme of the 1975 Giants seemed to be ebb and flow, with the waves occasionally crashing loudly in both directions. After defeating the Padres 2-0 in 10 innings on Opening Day, the Giants proceeded to alternate wins and losses for the remainder of April -- they were never more than two games above or below .500. But after winning the first two games of an eight-game road trip in early May, the team lost the last six games before returning home, with sweeps at the hands of the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Giants quickly made up for this, however, by winning seven in a row at Candlestick Park, sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs to surge three games above .500 at 22-19 on May 25, third place in the NL West behind the Cincinnati Reds and the front-running Dodgers.

Thus it went for the most part for the Giants – small and large losing streaks followed by small and large winning streaks – until a two-week 3-8 stretch lull before the All-Star break put the team six games under .500 at the break. The Giants returned to even their wins and losses by the end of July and stayed there until the beginning of August, where they lost six games in a row, only to immediately follow with six consecutive wins -- then lose six more in a row! The Giants again crawled back to .500 in early September, but hopes of finishing with a winning record were crushed with an eight-game losing streak in the middle of the month -- losses in which the Giants failed to score more than four runs in any game. But to complete the Jeckyll-and-Hyde story of the 1975 season, the Giants finished in fine fashion with a 10-4 final stretch that put them 80-81, just one game below .500. This of course, was nowhere near the top of the division, won easily by the 108-win Big Red Machine, who went on to defeat the Boston Red Sox in a seven-game World Series thriller.

Thus in a roller-coaster season, Westrum had managed to steer the Giants from a 90-loss team the previous season to one with an even record. This, however, was not enough to save his job, as Giants management fired Westrum on November 20 and coaxed out of retirement the original San Francisco Giants manager, Bill Rigney. But due to financial troubles, which could be attributed in large part to poor attendance at chilly Candlestick Park, the Giants made no other significant roster moves. How would this affect the team in '76? And could the Giants continue their gradual improvement in the standings? Stay tuned…

The complete 1975 roster:

#2 Marc Hill

#3 Mike Sadek

#10 Johnnie LeMaster

#10 Mike Phillips

#12 Gary Thomasson

#14 Dave Rader

#15 Chris Arnold

#15 Jack Clark

#16 Steve Ontiveros

#17 Randy Moffitt

#18 Craig Robinson

#19 Von Joshua

#20 Bobby Murcer

#21 Ed Goodson

#22 Willie Montanez

#25 Rob Dressler

#26 John Montefusco

#28 Ed Halicki

#29 Bruce Miller

#30 Derrel Thomas

#31 Garry Maddox

#32 Jake Brown

#33 Jim Barr

#34 John D'Acquisto

#35 Chris Speier

#36 Gary Matthews

#37 Mike Caldwell

#38 Horace Speed

#40 Tom Bradley

#40 Tommy Toms

#41 Greg Minton

#43 Glenn Adams

#46 Gary Lavelle

#49 Charlie Williams

#56 Pete Falcone

#58 Gary Alexander

#60 Dave Heaverlo

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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