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SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

April 14, 1958
April 14, 1958

Table of Contents
April 14, 1958

Acknowledgments
Baseball '58
  • East and West will clash in a season made exciting by new cities, fans, faces and champions. All this, and a whale of a pennant race—or two

  • The Braves have finally won their pennant and they should be even better this year. The pitching is superb and very deep, the power unmatched in either league, the catching solid and the defense is at least adequate. The Braves are both good and young—and they are going to be hard to catch

  • Here is a ball club with leadership and spirit, a great hitter, a tight infield, good run production—and the memory of how tough they made it on the Braves last year. There are weaknesses, but if the fine young pitching staff produces with real consistency, the Cardinals could go all the way

  • Here are your Dodgers, Los Angeles. Once they were magnificent, but now they are playing on a memory. They have lost the flash of Robinson on the base paths, the boom of Campanella's bat. Applaud them anyway and perhaps in time they will reward you with a pennant. But not for a while

  • Speed, power, catching and a sharp defense can carry a club a long way—or just as far as the pitching will allow. The Reds have made some trades and they have some new pitchers who should produce. With a little help from the old ones, this is a team that could win a pennant

  • Philadelphians have known dark days. Between the two wars, the Phillies finished in last place 16 times. Then in 1950, after 35 years of ridicule, the Phillies won a pennant. Happy days, it seemed, had come at last. But they have not come close since, and fans are wondering if they must wait another 35 years

  • The Giants arrive at the Pacific brimming with hope. A new era demands a new team, and with smart looking rookies augmenting the wonderful reality of Willie Mays, the Giants believe they might have that new team. The question marks are many, however, and time, as they say, will tell

  • People tend to mock the Cubs. In Chicago the newspapermen like to call them the Cubbies, to demonstrate how ineffectual they are. Possibly it's true. Possibly the Cubs this year are just as bad as ever. But do not forget that there are some very fine ballplayers on this otherwise weak team

  • The Pirates were supposed to start their climb last year—and didn't. Now, a year wiser, they realize that half a dozen fine young players can't do it alone. But if Kluszewski can only deliver those big hits and the pitching staff somehow comes around...well, 1958 could be different

  • It is a new year but the Yankees of '58 are an old story. As in the past, they have power, pride and the winning habit. Some critics may argue that this team is not to be compared with the great Yankee teams of '27 or '36, but what does it really matter? They are good enough to win...and easily

  • Without a home run hitter worthy of the name, the White Sox are all set to make their annual run at the Yankees—and the elusive pennant. If they succeed, it will be because they can pitch and run and field much better than anyone else. They still can't hit the baseball out of the park

  • No one has spent more money for more disappointment than the owner of the Red Sox, Tom Yawkey. Ten years ago he had the team everyone wanted: Williams, Doerr, Stephens, Pesky and DiMaggio. But it won no pennant. Now all that remains is Williams. But for some, that is enough

  • Everybody's glamour club last spring and a bitter disappointment in the summer, the Tigers don't intend to be either this year. They think they can win and, who knows, they might—if the Yankees were in another league. At least, they should be closer at the finish this season

  • People have just about forgotten that the Baltimore Orioles used to be the St. Louis Browns, so far up the ladder of respectability have the Orioles climbed. They finished within a half game of the first division last season, and they have hopes of reaching that promised land this year

  • Last season was disastrous for the Indians. Herb Score was hit in the eye, Bob Lemon hurt his arm, the pitching fell apart, and after 10 years in the first division they collapsed into sixth place. Now, with a new manager and a new general manager, the Indians start the long road back

  • Once Lou Boudreau left the scene last season and Harry Craft succeeded him, Kansas City started to play more spirited ball. But the final result was about the same since there isn't that much difference between last and seventh places. By now, Cowtown fans must be resigned to what they have

  • Summers are generally long in Washington. This year should prove no exception as far as the Senators are concerned. Charley Dressen tired of the team last year, and now it's up to Cookie Lavagetto to inspire it for another long summer. But inspiration is a weak substitute for talented young baseball players

  • Three baseball-loving artists put their palettes together and whipped up a brand-new baseball game. It's fun and as easy to play as choosing sides

  • By Robert Boyle

    Chicago's seldom-interviewed boss, Phil Wrigley, wants everybody to have a good time at Cubs Park. And everybody does—except the Cubs and Wrigley himself

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

The Giants arrive at the Pacific brimming with hope. A new era demands a new team, and with smart looking rookies augmenting the wonderful reality of Willie Mays, the Giants believe they might have that new team. The question marks are many, however, and time, as they say, will tell

THE MANAGER

This is an article from the April 14, 1958 issue Original Layout

Bill Rigney (18) is a tall, thin, gray-haired man who wears glasses and a harried look. During his eight years as a major-league infielder he was a hustling, scrambling player who never quit fighting for a hit, a run, an out. As a great minor league manager he was able to imbue his players with these qualities, but he has not yet had similar success in the majors. Intensely nervous, he seems older than his 38 years. He fidgets during a game, walks back and forth, often erupts into arguments with umpires. He likes power hitters, who hit the ball with what he calls "crash." His coaches are the talkative Salty Parker (2), the talkative Herman Franks (3), the quiet Wes Westrum (9).

ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S GIANTS

STRONG POINTS: The one unquestioned source of strength on this team stands out like Mount Everest on a Kansas prairie. The Giants' strong point is Willie Mays, who plays center field as no one else—not even the storied Speaker and the great DiMaggio—has ever been able to. Willie also hits, with power and much more consistency than he's usually given credit for, and he runs bases like a trail of lighted gunpowder. He is very likely the finest player in the game today, and he is certainly the reason why the Giants have finished as high as sixth these past two seasons, rather than as low as eighth. Beyond Willie the Giants have Daryl Spencer, a pretty good, though erratic, shortstop (second best in double plays last season, but tied for most errors and second last in fielding percentage). The pitching staff has some strength (Johnny Antonelli, Ruben Gomez, Curt Barclay, Marv Grissom) but it is far from substantial. An added element of strength this year could be depth, for the club has over the past few seasons acquired a number of players of good part-time quality: veterans like Hank Sauer, Ray Jablonski, Jim Finigan and Bob Speake, for example, and others just past the rookie stage, like Andre Rodgers and Ed Bressoud. And new rookies and other veterans help pad this benchly veneer.

WEAK SPOTS: Specifically, the Giants are weak at first base, second base, third base, left field, right field, in catching depth and in the middle reaches of the pitching staff. Generally, the Giants are weak in fielding, in hitting and in pitching. Statistics, which divert if they don't inform, show that the Giants, a sixth-place club last year, were sixth in club batting, sixth in club pitching and seventh in club fielding. As the old baseball maxim has it, they were sixth on merit. One of the Giant problems is a lack of the well-rounded player. Two of their best hitters in 1957, Jablonski and Sauer, are limited fielders. Competent fielders, like Lockman and Spencer don't hit well. This fault is aggravated by a curious shortsightedness in front-office policy. The Giants, for reasons probably founded in McGravian antiquity, love to pick a "starting team," selling off the extras or relegating them to the minors or "utility" status. If the starting team then fails, the Giants fail. But since only one or two of their players are clearly above the level of mediocrity, it would seem far wiser to keep a whole warehouse of part-time players on hand and try to get good performances out of them in spurts.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES: The Giants picked up Jim Finigan in a late-winter trade with the Tigers, and while this quiet, blond infielder will never be a star, he could prove a most useful man to have around. Most prominent among the rookies is Orlando Cepeda, a large, graceful Puerto Rican first baseman, who at 20 seems to have a brilliant future in store. Willie Kirkland, a left-handed-hitting youngster, has been given a clear shot at the right-field job, and if he emulates his minor league record he'll be the power hitter the Giants need to help Mays. Bob Schmidt, a tall catcher, and Jim Davenport, a medium-sized third baseman, are other good-looking youngsters. Pitcher Paul Giel, back from two years of Army service, is, in a way, another new face.

THE BIG IFS: To an incautious degree the Giants are counting on rookies. They want Cepeda to become the regular first baseman and a good one. They want Kirkland to establish himself as a solid power hitter. They'd like Schmidt to assume the first-string catching role, and it would be nice if Davenport could do the same at third. Of the veterans, Antonelli (12-18 last year) must regain his fast ball and 20-victory status, and 40-year-old Marv Grissom, a superb relief pitcher for the past five years, must not falter.

THE VOICES

Russ Hodges (46, folksy) broke into radio work when a broken ankle sidelined him from football play at the University of Kentucky. He lost his athletic scholarship but got a chance to spot and do color on the Kentucky games over the air. Hodges forgot about becoming a lawyer (although he eventually did get a law degree) and stayed with sports announcing. He did his first major league baseball for the Reds in 1940 and has since covered the Cubs, White Sox, Senators, Yankees and, since 1949, the Giants, LON SIMMONS (34, boyish) was an all-round athlete in southern California schools. He spent four years in the service and then signed with the Phillies but a sore arm hindered his career and after subsequent trials with the Braves and Dodgers he gave up baseball play. Simmons worked his way up the ranks in sports announcing until he hit San Francisco last year. He is a solid, authoritative announcer with an excellent low-pitched voice that should blend well with Hodges' folksy manner.

View this article in the original magazine

PHOTOWILLIE MAYSPHOTODARYL SPENCERPHOTOHANK SAUERPHOTOWHITEY LOCKMANPHOTOVALMY THOMASPHOTOWILLIE KIRKLANDPHOTODANNY O'CONNELLPHOTORAY JABLONSKIPHOTORUSS HODGESPHOTOJOHN ANTONELLIPHOTORUBEN GOMEZPHOTOCURT BARCLAYPHOTOMARV GRISSOMPHOTOILLUSTRATION

THE OUTLOOK: Looking at things logically and placing bets practically, this measures up as a sure-shot second-division club. They have more depth than they're used to, but that's evened out by the fact that the other 40-year-old, Hank Sauer, who hit 2 helpful home runs last year, can not reasonably be expected to do that again this season. But if the rookie parlay comes through, an outlandish long shot but a possibility, the Giants could be the most exciting team in the league this year. If the rookie fail, let San Francisco watch Willie Mays, excitement enough in himself.

BASIC ROSTER

no.

player

position

1957 record

2

Danny O'Connell

2B

.256

6

Bob Schmidt

C

minors

7

Valmy Thomas

C

.249

10

Ray Jablonski

3B

.289

15

Andre Rodgers

IF

.244

16

Ed Bressoud

IF

.268

17

Jim Finigan

IF

.270

20

Daryl Spencer

SS

.249

23

Bob Speake

OF

.232

24

Willie Mays

CF

.333

25

Whitey Lockman

IB

.248

27

Hank Sauer

OF

.259

29

Willie Kirkland

OF

Service

28

Ruben Gomez

P

15-13

31

Paul Giel

P

service

32

Al Worthington

P

8-11

39

Curt Barclay

P

9-9

42

Marv Grissom

P

4-4

43

John Antonelli

P

12-18

44

Ray Crone

P

7-9

PAST PERFORMANCE CHART TEAM

year

finished

won

lost

behind games

1957

6

69

85

26

1956

6

67

87

26

1955

3

80

74

18½

1954

1

97

57

1953

5

70

84

35

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

battin

pitchig

1957

Mays

.333

Gomez

15-13

1956

Schndst

.302

Antonelli

20-13

1955

Mays

.319

Antonelli

14-16

1954

Mays

.345

Antonelli

21-7

1953

Mueller

.333

Gomez

13-11

home runs

runs batted in

1957

Mays

35

Mays

97

1956

Mays

36

Mays

84

1955

Mays

51

Mays

127

1954

Mays

41

Mays

110

1953

Thomson

26

Thomson

106

HOME SCHEDULE

APRIL

LOS ANGELES

15, 16*, 17

ST. LOUIS

22*, 23, 24

CHICAGO

25*, 26, 27

PHILADELPHIA

29, 30

MAY

PHILADELPHIA

1, 2*, 3

PITTSBURGH

4, 4, 5, 6*, 7

LOS ANGELES

9*, 10, 11

JUNE

MILWAUKEE

3*, 4, 5

CINCINNATI

6*, 7, 8, 9

PITTSBURGH

10*, 11, 12

PHILADELPHIA

13*, 14, 15

JULY

CHICAGO

3, 4, 4

ST. LOUIS

5, 6

CINCINNATI

10*, 11

MILWAUKEE

12, 13, 14

PHILADELPHIA

15*, 16, 17

PITTSBURGH

18*, 19, 20

AUGUST

ST. LOUIS

12*, 13, 14

CHICAGO

15*, 16, 17

CINCINNATI

19, 20, 21, 22*, 23

MILWAUKEE

24, 25*, 26, 27*, 28

LOS ANGELES

29*, 30, 31

SEPTEMBER

LOS ANGELES

1, 1

CHICAGO

23*, 24

ST. LOUIS

26*, 27, 28

*Night game