San Francisco is a great city, as anyone who lives in San Francisco is willing to admit at almost any hour of the day or night. Not so big as New York, not even so big as its sprawling California neighbor, Los Angeles, it nevertheless has all the cosmopolitan qualities common to the famous cities of the world. In the American idiom, it's big league.
When last week San Francisco learned officially that the New York Giants had crossed the Rubicon (known in the provincial East as the Hudson) and would field a National League team under the Golden Gate in 1958, the city accepted the news that it was now a big league town in fact as well as in reputation with a restraint that was almost self-conscious. Milwaukee had gone half-delirious with joy when it went big league in 1953, and Baltimore and Kansas City bubbled with excitement when their turns came. San Francisco, outwardly at least, was not terribly impressed. The Associated Press wired its local office for pictures of "dancing in the streets," but the local office was obliged to wire back that there was none. Scripps-Howard's News did begin a headline with the word GIANTS in end-of-the-world type, but set the COMING—IT'S OFFICIAL in a casual, almost conversational size.
San Francisco Correspondent Dick Pollard reported to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED on this characteristic calm: "San Franciscans didn't get the team they sentimentally wanted (the Yankees), nor even the league they wanted (the American), but they did get a real live major league baseball club, and they did get the incomparable Willie Mays. So, like parents who hoped for a girl and got a boy, we'll make the best of it.... Horace Stoneham is getting a spanking-new 45,000-seat stadium and all the other usual privileges while paying the lowest gross percent price in the major leagues. But he is also walking into a town which traditionally will pay anything to see a champion but won't walk two blocks to see a second-rater.
"And, of course, there's our weather. New York writers have pointed out all our fair city's shortcomings, even suggesting that we have fleas as large as basset hounds and earthquakes which occur with the frequency of eastern summer showers. This is a patent canard. But our weather—well—it's chilly. The average mean summer temperature for the past 30 years has been 59°. All other major league cities average, I'd guess, about 73°. San Francisco's average high temperature in July is 64, low 53; New York, by 1955 figures, was 84 and 67.
"These temperatures, plus our famed fog, which comes in with the persistence of a mother-in-law, will certainly discourage night attendance and cut into the daytime crowd. Oldtime San Franciscans have seen baseball in the fog. But for newcomers, brought up on steamy summer baseball, the necessity of wearing an overcoat instead of shirtsleeves and drinking coffee and brandy instead of beer will be a shock."
Another San Franciscan appeared disturbed by the news rather than elated. He pointed out rather acidly that the city would be giving up a first-place team (the minor league Seals in the Pacific Coast League) for a sixth-place team (the Giants' current National League position). "I think that the Seals and the Giants should be made to play a seven-game series for the right to represent us in the major leagues," he decided.
Thus San Francisco maintained its slightly aloof, sophisticated poise. Underneath all, however, was a quiet, pleased pride. And why not? For months now, most of the windstorm of words about "majors moving to the Coast" has been dominated by the plans of the large—and in San Francisco opinion slightly loud—city of Los Angeles to receive the fabled Brooklyn Dodgers. And last week...well, where were the Dodgers?
The lovely city by the Golden Gate would never come right out and say it, certainly, but it rather liked the idea that when major league baseball finally broke through to California it came to San Francisco. In the dawning new age, when the ancient rivalry of Giants and Dodgers seems about to be transplanted bodily to the Coast, San Francisco was, clearly, one up.
FOR BASEBALL 2,200 MILES-AND SEVERAL LEAGUES-FROM SAN FRANCISCO