After watching the 1980 San Francisco Giants team video (click here to see it) I made note of a few things for this blog entry:
- Hearing Al Michaels voice with Disco Music (aka the Village People) in the background can be a bit unsetting
- The Giants were a team that had ballplayers that were better known for what they did while playing for other teams (Vida Blue) or in different eras (Willie McCovey)
- There was a neat piece on Giant history and a salute to Stretch, who called 1980 his final season. Stretch retired to “make room for the young players”. As one pundit said, “No one needs to make room for players like Rich Murray (Eddie’s less talented brother) or Mike Ivie”.
- The highlight of the season was when “they clawed their way back to 4 games under .500, just after the All-Star break”. Granted they did reach the .500 mark at one point before fading, but they never seriously contended as the video leads you to believe “The Giants were 5.5 games out of 1st in early August after sweeping the Reds in Riverfront…”
- Lindsay Nelson was their principle announcer. Met fans just thought he retired when he left New York the season before.
So to sum things up, this was a Giants team that was 9 years removed from it’s last post season appearance. They had a mixture of players that were not destined to have a winning record. It was cold watching night games at Candlestick, but it was interesting watching where fly balls would bounce after it hit that chain link fence that surrounded the outfield.
What were the highlights of this forgettable season for Bay Area fans ? Jack Clark (.284-22-84) emerged as a true power hitting superstar. Al Michaels said, “The word is out, Jack Clark can throw”, which explained to us why runners weren’t running on Clark’s arm in right. I got to see him play RF at Yankee Stadium a decade later and he threw a runner out at second from deep right, so I have to attest that Al “Can you believe in Miracles” might have been right. Clark broke his hand in late August when he got beaned at Shea and the team went from mediocre to horrible.
Darrell Evans also hit 20 homers, but after that no one else hit even 10. In fact, no one really hit on this team. Terry Whitfield led the team with a .296 average, but he had just 4 homers. Bill North played center in between Whitfield and Clark and he hit just .251. He did manage to swipe 45 bases, but he was caught stealing almost half the time. The outfield hit a combined total of 27 homers, with 22 of them coming from Clark. You can’t when you don’t get at least 25 homers or 150 stolen bases from your outfield.
Vida Blue (14-10, 2.97) was the ace of the staff. The rest of the starters were horrible. Ed Whitson (11-13, 3.10) looked to be a hard luck loser on the surface, but if you knew anything about this guy you’d know that he found ways to be just a bit worse than his opposing number on the hill. The pen was quite good. In fact it might have had the most depth in the league and if manager Dave Bristol used it like modern managers he might have actually won 10-15 more games…but this was 1980 and relievers weren’t yet the specialists that Tony Larussa would make them later on in the decade.
18 new cards were created to finish the set.
The highlight of this bunch, for me at least, is my colorization for the Jeff Stember card. A forgettable player with an unforgettable card. That’s the kind of work that I major in ! I love the pose of Rich Murray on his card. He has his index finger pressed up against his lips. I can almost see the caption, “Shush, don’t keep telling them I’m Eddie’s brother, because when they see my stats they won’t believe you”. Some day I’ll find that illusive color photo of Bill Bodley ! Until then we will have to live with a grainy B&W shot. Got to love the look on Jim Wohlford’s face. By this point in his career he had to be thinking to himself, “I can’t even get to play regular in an outfield that hit a combined 27 homers…how bad am I ?”