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25 Facts About the San Francisco Giants

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For the third time in five years, the San Francisco Giants are World Series champions. There's a lot to know about this 21st-century baseball dynasty with roots in New York; check out 25 of our favorite Giants facts.

1. The Giants joined the National League in 1883 as the New York Gothams. They won their first ever game against the Boston Beaneaters at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan.

2. The team's named changed to the Giants two years later in 1885. Legend has it player-manager Jim Mutrie congratulated his teammates after a particularly convincing victory by calling them "my big fellows, my giants." The name stuck.

3. The Giants should have made their first postseason appearance in 1904. The World Series, a symbol of symbiosis between the more established National League and the newer American League, was played for the first time just a year before in 1903. The following year, the National League Giants ran away with the pennant, winning 106 games, but refused to appear in an inter-league World Series. The reason was personal. On July 27, long before they clinched the League, manager John McGraw told the press, "The Giants will not play a postseason series with the American League champions. The reasons for my decision are that Ban Johnson has not been on the level with me personally, and the American League management has been crooked more than once." He went on to explain a feud with American League president Johnson that stemmed from McGraw's days as manager of the Baltimore Orioles, which became the League's charter franchise in 1901. "Now I have the whip hand. My team will have nothing to do with the American League as long as I have a word to say, and no influence to bear upon me by the National League people can make me change my mind," he concluded. And so that year, there was no World Series.

4. Despite his hard-line stance just a year before, McGraw was forced to capitulate to the fans the following season and, after going 105-48 during the regular season, the Giants made their postseason debut in the 1905 World Series, topping the Philadelphia Athletics four games to one. Even in a matchup dominated by otherworldly pitcher performances—it remains the only Series to date in which all five games ended in a shutout—Giants' ace Christy Mathewson stood out. Fresh off his second-consecutive 30-win season, the 25-year-old pitched three complete game shutouts over the span of just six days, the only pitcher to have ever done so in a World Series.

5. Despite several postseason appearances, the Giants wouldn't win another World Series until 1921, which was both a first and a last in Fall Classic history. The Giants topped their crosstown rival Yankees five games to three in what was not only the first ever Subway Series but also the first World Series in which all games were played at the same stadium (in this case, the Polo Grounds). But it was the last time the World Series would be best-of-nine. The two New York teams would face off in the World Series again the following two years, as well.

6. At the time, New York was a three-team city, so in addition to the Yankees, the Giants had one other crosstown rival: the Dodgers. And in the middle of August 1951, the Dodgers had a 13 1/2 game lead over the Giants. But then the Giants went on a tear, winning 16 in a row and ultimately 37 of their last 44 games to tie the Dodgers and force the first-ever National League pennant playoff. The Dodgers and the Giants split the first two of the three-game series and headed to the Polo Grounds for the deciding game. Trailing 4-1 in the ninth inning, the Giants staged a rally, stringing together several hits to drive in a run and put runners on second and third. Bobby Thompson came to bat against the Dodgers' reliever Ralph Branca and with the count 1-0 Thompson drove a home run into the left-field stands to give the Giants a 5-4 win and the NL Pennant. "The Shot Heard Round The World" earned the Giants a place in the 1951 World Series, where they once again faced the Yankees.

7. The Giants lost to the Yankees in the '51 Fall Classic, but they'd get one more shot at the World Series before leaving New York behind: 1954 was not only their last Championship on the East Coast, it was also the setting of "The Catch"—the amazing defensive play by Willie Mays to preserve a tie in the eighth inning of Game 1 at the Polo Grounds. The Giants would go on to sweep the Cleveland Indians in four games but it's the iconic photo of Mays' catch that made the Series famous. The photo was one of a series from that play taken by New York Daily News photographer Frank Hurley with his new Hultcher 70 camera, one of the first cameras capable of taking multiple frames per second.

8. The Giants and the Dodgers both left New York City for California in 1957, leaving the city without a National League team until the Mets were founded in 1962. The Mets chose their colors, blue and orange, to honor each of their NL forefathers in New York.

9. On July 2, 1963, Giants pitcher Juan Marichal earned the win in The Greatest Game ever pitched. To do so, he bested Braves pitcher Warren Spahn's final line of one run on nine hits over 15 1/3 innings with his own 16 full scoreless innings. The two twirlers had traded zeroes all afternoon at Candlestick Park, refusing to yield to the opposing batters or the bullpen. At one point, 25-year-old Marichal is said to have told Giants manager Alvin Dark, "He’s 42 and I’m 25, and you can’t take me out until that man is not pitching."

10. That marathon matchup was particularly noteworthy, but it wasn't the only extra-innings display of pitching prowess Marichal participated in during his career. In fact, he is the only pitcher since 1920 to throw multiple shutouts in which he pitched at least 14 innings, earning 1-0 win in 14 innings on May 26, 1966, against the Phillies. Later, he got a taste of the sort of heart-wrenching sliver of defeat he handed Spahn back in '63 when he lost another 14-inning game 1-0 to the Mets on August 19, 1969.

11. After playing their first two West Coast seasons at Seals Stadium, the Giants moved to Candlestick Park in 1960, which would serve as their home field for four decades. The infamously windy stadium hosted hundreds of important sporting events as well as one particularly noteworthy cultural moment. On August 29, 1966, the Beatles played their last ever (paid) concert together at Candlestick Park. Forty-eight years later, Paul McCartney returned to Candlestick for a send-off performance before the stadium closed this past summer.

12. The 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's was dominated by one thing and one thing only: The 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake that struck the Bay Area just before the start of Game 3 at Candlestick. It lasted for about 15 seconds, starting at 5:04 p.m., with the game scheduled to start at 5:35. Play was suspended for 10 days while the two cities recovered, but the convergence of the World Series and the natural disaster had some interesting results. Because television crews were on hand for the game, Loma Prieta ended up being the first ever earthquake caught on camera. Even more fortuitously, experts think the timing of the earthquake so close to the major game may have saved lives: Most people in the area were inside somewhere to watch the game, and not out on the roads, which were heavily damaged.

13. Current Giants Manager Bruce Bochy has the largest head in Major League Baseball. He wears a size 8 1/4 hat and, during his playing days, he had to take his batting helmet with him from team to team in the event of a trade. It was easier for his new team to paint the helmet than to find one in his size.

14. There's a lot to say about one-time face-of-the-franchise Tim Lincecum's career, which has been marked by both extreme highs and confounding lows (especially if he's your favorite player). The record that perhaps best summarizes his many successes is this: He is one of only two players ever with multiple no-hitters thrown, multiple Cy Young Awards won, multiple World Series championship titles and multiple All-Star selections. The other is Sandy Koufax.

15. In 1994, the MLB season was cut short by labor issues. This impacted every team, player, and fan, of course, but for Giants slugger Matt Williams, it may have cost him a chance at history. When the strike suspended play for the Giants after 115 games, Williams—not Barry Bonds, who hit behind him in the lineup—was on track to top Roger Maris' single season home run record. Although it has since been (questionably) surpassed by multiple players, at the time the record for the most home runs in a single season stood at 61. And with 47 games left to play that never came to pass, Williams had hit 43. Even with the shortened season, it was the most Williams ever hit in a single year.

16. The Giants won the first ever Interleague game, 4-3, against the Indians on June 12, 1997.

17. The 2003 Giants were just the ninth team in baseball history to wire-to-wire in first place.

18. Giants fans love Hunter Pence for his scooter, his sense of humor, his ability to motivate his teammates, and, of course, the legion of highly-specific, mild-mannered signs he's inspired. But even the orange and black faithful know Pence does not play baseball gracefully. His wonky style of hitting, throwing and running are immediately evident to anyone who watches him, but it was recently revealed that there is a reason for his jerky motions. Pence has Scheuermann's Disease, a spinal disorder that impairs flexibility. The outfielder himself didn't know about it until undergoing a physical before signing a contract extension with the Giants in 2013.

19. The spinal stiffness clearly isn't impacting Pence's durability: He holds the current active record for consecutive regular season games played with 383.

20. Last year, 2012 NL MVP Giants catcher Buster Posey—real name, Gerald—signed a 9-year contract extension worth $167 million. In addition to being the longest contract in Giants history, it was also the most lucrative contract ever awarded to a player with so few years in the Big Leagues.

21. Mascot Lou Seal was the first member of the Giants to wear what is now the team's orange Friday jerseys. His was a prototype.

22. But Lou was not the Giants' first mascot. In 1984, the team introduced Crazy Crab, a counter-culture "anti-mascot" that was intentionally hapless and boo-able. The target proved to be just a little too tempting during a 96-loss season in which fans and players alike lobbed not just insults but food, trash, and even resin bags at the crab, forcing him into retirement after just one season.

23. The Giants have the most Hall of Fame inductees of any organization with 56.

24. They also have the most wins historically with 10,780. This is helped to be made possible by the fact that they are the sixth-oldest franchise.

25. The Giants entered the World Series this year having won their last eight-straight playoff series, which is the second-longest streak in baseball history. It wasn't easy the whole way; in 2012, they became the first team in the history of the Division Series to advance after falling into an 0-2 deficit.

Additional Sources: The Year of the San Francisco Giants: Celebrating the 2012 World Series Champions by Major League Baseball and 1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever by Bill Madden.

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15 Things You Might Not Know About The Sandlot
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

What, you haven’t seen The Sandlot? You’re killing me, Smalls.

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Roger Ebert got it right: The Sandlot is like the summer version of A Christmas Story. They’re not penned by the same screenwriter and they don’t share a director or even actors, but both make you feel nostalgic for a childhood you probably didn’t even have.

No matter how many times you’ve watched Squints execute his plan to get to first base with Wendy Peffercorn, there’s bound to be something you don’t know about this modern classic. On the 25th anniversary of the movie's release, here are 15 of our favorite The Sandlot secrets.

1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY CALLED THE BOYS OF SUMMER.

Originally called The Boys of Summer, the film's name had to be changed because there was already a famous baseball book by the same title.

2. IT WAS PARTLY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL.

The movie was inspired in part by a childhood experience co-writer/director David Mickey Evans’s brother had. Some older boys wouldn’t let Evans play baseball with him. When they lost a ball over a brick wall, he thought he could get on their good side by retrieving it for them. When he hopped the wall, however, he found a giant dog named Hercules waiting for him—and he was bitten.

3. IT WAS A QUICK SHOOT.

It was shot in just 42 days.

4. THE KIDS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE MUCH YOUNGER.

Casting directors originally wanted the kids to be 9 to 10 years old, but as they began casting, "it became obvious real fast the kids were much too young," Evans told Sports Illustrated. "So I said, 'We've got to make them 12 or 13.' We knew it was the right decision instantly, because the first kid that we interviewed was Mike Vitar [who played Benny Rodriguez]."

5. THE GIANT OAK TREE THAT HOLDS THE TREEHOUSE WAS SALVAGED.

The cast of 'The Sandlot' (1993)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The production crew had been agonizing over how they were going to pull off a tree that size—"We were looking at having to buy an oak tree, and a specimen that big, if you can even find one, is hundreds of thousands of dollars," Evans told Sports Illustrated—when they happened to notice one being chopped down not far from the production offices. The 100-year-old oak was interfering with the foundation of the house it was planted next to. The man removing it agreed to give it to the crew, and Salt Lake City’s utility companies took down power and telephone lines on certain streets so the tree could be hauled safely to the empty lot where filming was taking place. It was cemented into the ground there and became an iconic part of the movie.

6. YEAH-YEAH ORIGINALLY READ FOR BERTRAM.

Marty York, the actor who played Alan “Yeah-Yeah” McClennan, originally read for Bertram. Not only did York not get the Bertram role, he wasn’t the first choice for Yeah-Yeah, either. The kid cast for Yeah-Yeah got sick just as the movie was scheduled to start filming, and York replaced him.

7. THE CHEWING TOBACCO WAS MADE OF LICORICE AND BACON BITS.

The chewing tobacco from the carnival scene was really made out of licorice and bacon bits—and that, the actors later said, combined with riding the carnival rides for so many takes, made them as sick as their fictional counterparts got. (The vomit from that scene, by the way, was a mixture of split pea soup, baked beans, oatmeal, water, and gelatin.)

8. IT WAS DANGEROUSLY HOT.

It was so hot during the daytime shoots—upwards of 110 degrees—that the actor who played Scotty Smalls, Tom Guiry, got weak from running around in the heat and fell into one of the cameramen.

9. IT WAS ALSO REALLY COLD.

On the other hand, the famous pool scene was actually freezing. The day was overcast and the water was just 56 degrees. Evans says you can actually see Squints’s teeth chattering while he’s staring longingly at Wendy Peffercorn from the pool.

10. SQUINTS WAS GIVEN A STERN REMINDER.

Speaking of the Squints scam: Evans had to give actor Chauncey Leopardi a stern reminder before the scene was shot: “You keep your tongue in your mouth, you understand?”

11. WENDY PEFFERCORN WAS BASED ON A GIRL NAMED BUNNY.

Wendy was partly based on a girl Evans remembers from his childhood—a lifeguard in a red bathing suit named Bunny.

12. THE KIDS WERE EXCITED TO MEET DARTH VADER.

The kids were super impressed that Darth Vader was on set—James Earl Jones, of course, played junkyard owner Mr. Mertle. (They were almost as taken with Marley Shelton, who played Wendy.)

13. THE CAST SNUCK INTO A SCREENING OF BASIC INSTINCT.

When the young cast wasn’t acting, they were getting into the kind of shenanigans that their Sandlot alter egos surely would have been proud of—they snuck in to see Basic Instinct.

14. THE BEAST WAS PARTLY PUPPET.

The Beast—a.k.a. Hercules, an English Mastiff—was played, in part, by a puppet. It took two people to operate. If you don’t mind ruining the movie magic, you can see the behind-the-scenes photos on Evans’s blog.

Some scenes with the Beast called for a real dog (two, actually). When Smalls and Hercules make friends at the end, they got the dog to lick his face by smearing baby food on one half of Tom Guiry’s face. "That scene where I’m looking to the side, the other half of me is just slathered in this baby goo. That dog had a field day on my face," Guiry told Time. "I’m a dog-lover though, so it didn’t really bother me.”

15. THE MOVIE WAS AT THE CENTER OF A MAJOR LAWSUIT.

The Sandlot was at the center of a lawsuit that eventually had a major impact on Hollywood. A man named Michael Polydoros sued 20th Century Fox, claiming that his former classmate, David Mickey Evans, had based the character of Michael “Squints” Palledorous on him, and that it caused him embarrassment and humiliation. A judge decided that there wasn’t enough similarity to justify the lawsuit, meaning that movie studios could continue using characters inspired in part by real-life people.

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10 of the Most Valuable Baseball Cards in the World
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If baseball is America’s national pastime, then collecting baseball cards is a close second. Closets, crawl spaces, and attics across the country are full of cards from every era—from the days of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams to Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. But not all of them are going to pay off your student loans or put you in a new house.

Baseball card values depend on many factors, like age, condition, scarcity, and the collectible market trends at the time. With all that in mind, we're taking a look at 10 of the most valuable baseball cards in the world.

1. HONUS WAGNER, 1909-1911 ATC T206 // $3.12 MILLION

If you know anything about baseball cards, it won't come as a shock that this Honus Wagner card sold for a staggering $3.12 million in 2016, besting its previous high of $2.8 million from 2007. Widely considered to be the "Holy Grail" of baseball collectibles, the card's value is forever tied to its backstory. It was originally produced by the American Tobacco Company and was included in packs of the company's cigarettes. But, for reasons that still aren't completely clear, Wagner made the company pull the card from the market, resulting in anywhere from only 25 to 200 ever being released—and more than 100 years later, the scarcity has made it a landmark in sports collectibles.

2. MICKEY MANTLE, 1952 TOPPS // $1.13 MILLION

Joining Wagner in the more-than-a-million-dollars card club is none other than Mickey Mantle. More specifically, it's his 1952 Topps Major League card that went for $1.13 million at auction in 2016. Its Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) grade, which scores a card's condition, is an astounding 8.5 out of 10, making it one of the most attractive Mantle cards out there. But even copies with lower scores have gone for significant amounts, with grades of 6 and 7 regularly going for more than $100,000. But in a few weeks this list might need updating—another 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is up for auction in April, this time with a PSA grade of 9. Its pre-auction estimate is a mighty $3.5 million-plus.

3. BABE RUTH, 1916 SPORTING NEWS // $717,000

Babe Ruth’s Sporting News card from 1916 (his pre-Yankee days) sold for $717,000 in a 2016 auction. It was far from the only auction that featured this card of a young Bambino, though. In 2017, the same card with the same PSA grade fetched around $550,000. It's just another example of how selling at the right time and finding the right buyer can make a six-figure difference.

4. PETE ROSE/PEDRO GONZALEZ/KEN MCMULLEN/AL WEIS, 1963 TOPPS // $717,000

So how did a card like this wind up taking $717,000 at auction? It's not nearly as old as a Ruth card, yet it went for just as much money. Well, for one, it features Pete Rose on it, and anything with "The Hit King" is going to get some interest. Another reason is that it was graded a perfect 10 by the PSA, which is exceedingly rare for any card of its age. It's the only copy of this particular card ever to get that rating, and for collectors, that's a big deal. This one won't fetch nearly as much in any other condition, though, as a 9 grade might get around $70,000 at auction.

5. "SHOELESS" JOE JACKSON, 1909 AMERICAN CARAMEL // $667,149

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson was the most high-profile baseball name to be linked to the notorious Black Sox Scandal, but that hasn't hurt his worth on the collectible market. In 2016, a PSA grade 8 copy of what's considered to be Jackson's rookie card sold at auction for $667,149. In 2008, the same card with a lower grade went for $86,975, so it just goes to show that a card's condition can make all the difference.

6. NOLAN RYAN/JERRY KOOSMAN, 1968 TOPPS // $612,359

Like the Rose rookie card, this Nolan Ryan/Jerry Koosman combo piece was rated a perfect 10 and was rewarded with $612,359 at auction, far higher than it would have been otherwise. In fact, of the 8000 Ryan/Koosman rookie cards that have been submitted, it's the only one to receive a perfect score. And that pristine condition is exactly why it commanded that price—when you put a 9 grade on the same card, for example, its value goes down to around $20,000 to $30,000.

7. BABE RUTH, 1914 BALTIMORE NEWS // $575,000

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Babe wound up on this list twice. This time, the Sultan of Swat is seen as a minor league pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, well before his home run prowess was realized. In 2012, Robert Edwards Auctions sold a PSA 2 graded copy of the card for an impressive $575,000. And if you want a rare card, this is it: It's generally agreed upon that there are only around 10 in existence.

8. WILLIE MAYS, 1952 TOPPS // $478,000

In 2016, Heritage Auctions held a Sports Collectibles Auction that over three days sold $11 million of memorabilia. The single most valuable item sold was a $478,000 Willie Mays card. While not his rookie card, it was the first Topps card to feature the legendary centerfielder.

9. ROBERTO CLEMENTE, 1955 TOPPS // $478,000

All-time great Roberto Clemente, a member of the 3000-hit club and the Baseball Hall of Fame, died tragically in a plane crash en route to Nicaragua to contribute to earthquake relief in 1972. In 2012, his 1955 rookie card—graded a rare 10 by PSA—sold for $432,690. But four years later (showing that timing can be more important than grade), a 1955 Roberto Clemente card that was graded a 9 sold for $478,000 (however, the same card with a PSA grade of 8 is worth around $30,000). An interesting note about the 2012 sale is that the card was owned by former big leaguer Dmitri Young, who auctioned a large portion of his impressive collection in 2012 for $2.4 million.

10. JOE DOYLE, N.Y. NAT'L, 1909-1911 ATC T206 // $414,750

“Slow Joe” Doyle might not be the most famous player on this list, but he has one of the most notorious cards on the market. First off, this particular card is over 100 years old, so there are reported to be less than a dozen in circulation. But most importantly, there was a printing error on the card, listing Doyle as playing for New York's National League team, rather than the correct American League team (he was a member of the New York Highlanders, which would eventually become the Yankees; it’s thought the confusion was due to Larry Doyle being on New York’s National League team). The error was quickly fixed, so a majority of them hit the market with the correct wording. The card has come to auction only a few times in recent years, bringing in anywhere from $64,099 to a staggering $414,750. Not bad for a pitcher with a career record of 22-21.

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