San Francisco's crown has finally arrived

ARLINGTON, Texas — This is the World Series that Willie Mays could never bring home to San Francisco.

The Series that Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Don Larsen, and Felipe and Matty Alou failed to win in 1962. The Series that, in the name of his father, Barry Bonds tried so desperately to win on his own.

This is the World Series that Giants fans in San Francisco have awaited forever.

The Giants beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 in Game 5 on Monday night to win their first World Series since the team moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958.

"It's for everybody who's ever worn a Giants uniform, for every fan that's ever frozen at Candlestick Park, for every person that's ever voted for a new ballpark, for every person who's listened to our games on the radio over the years. That's what this is for," said Giants president Larry Baer said. "The 2010 Giants delivered on behalf of those people.

"It's on behalf of 53 years of waiting."

They are one of the most unlikely World Series champions in history. A team that seemed forever to be chasing someone else. They were behind the Padres in May, behind the Padres and Dodgers in June and behind the Padres, Dodgers and Rockies in July.

The Giants were six games out of first place in the National League West on Aug. 28, and were still half a game behind with seven to play. Since then, they have clinched the division, the NLDS, the NLCS and the World Series in a span of 37 days.

And so, long after the television lights had been dimmed and the champagne had been put away, players, coaches, employees and family members wandered around the infield at the Ballpark at Arlignton.

In the stands, a thousand or so San Francisco fans stood behind the third-base dugout melodically chanting:

"Thank you Giants, thank you Giants."

The past decade has been about reparations in Major League Baseball. It has been payback for millions of fans who endured losses, heartbreaks, curses, mismanagement and far too much bad luck for anyone to recall.

Red Sox fans? Their 86-year wait ended in 2004.

White Sox fans? Salvation came after 88 years in 2005.

And now Giants fans?

In their 53rd season in San Francisco, the Giants have finally won a World Series.

"They're out in the streets of San Francisco right now, I guarantee it," Giants managing general partner Bill Neukom said. "I hope it's wild, crazy and joyous."

Their heartache was not as celebrated as Boston's, and their wait was not as long as Chicago's.

But that does not mean the path was any less painful for those who lived it.

For those who saw Game 7 of the 1962 World Series end when McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson with two on and two out in the ninth inning of a 1-0 loss to the Yankees.

For those who lived through the earthquake and World Series sweep by Oakland in 1989, and those who saw the Giants come within five outs of winning the 2002 World Series in Game 6 before manager Dusty Baker prematurely pulled Russ Ortiz.

Peter Magowan, who was the leader of the ownership group that purchased the Giants in 1992 and kept Vince Naimoli from buying the franchise and moving it to Tropicana Field, walked through the clubhouse Monday night hugging player after player.

"For a lot of people in San Francisco, this is the happiest day of their lives," said Magowan, who is now Giants president emeritus.

"They almost lost their team in '92. For those people who have seen them come as close as I've seen them come, going back to '62 and '02 and a lot of other times in between. The time has come to finally put all of those ghosts away. We don't have to think about those games anymore.

"Not a day in my life has gone by where I didn't think about the '02 World Series. Now I don't have to think about it ever again."

After all of the close calls and all the losing seasons, the deed was finally done by a group of players who refer to themselves as the Dirty Dozen. They have an ace with long hair, and a closer with a dyed beard. They have a third baseman who looks like Kung Fu Panda, and a first baseman with lucky undergarments from Victoria's Secret.

They are misfits, runts and castoffs. Their highest-paid player did not even make the Series roster, and their cleanup hitter was acquired on waivers a couple of months ago.

"Those Giants teams with Willie Mays and McCovey had four Hall of Famers on those teams," outfielder Aaron Rowand said. "But it takes a lot of luck too."

So, in the end, devotion pays.

Sooner or later, faith is rewarded.

Eventually, hope is not in vain.

Mike Murphy was a batboy in old Seals Stadium when the Giants played their first game in San Francisco in 1958. That happened to be the day he met a future Hall of Famer named Willie Mays. Murphy would go on to work for the Giants for the next 52 years, and continues to run the clubhouse as the equipment manager.

"There's a whole potful of people who have never been through this," Murphy said. "I wish they all could see it. It's a great feeling. You feel like you're sitting on top of the world.

"As a matter of fact, I'm going to call Willie right now."

John Romano can be reached at romano@sptimes.com.

San Francisco's crown has finally arrived 11/02/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 1:36am]

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