Moonlight (Graham) by the Bay

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It took more than half a century, but in 2010 the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.  This week if happened again.  I wanted to offer thoughts; the Giants are my longest enduring daily relationship of my life - I don't know if there's been a single day over the past 35 years that the organization didn't cross my mind at least once - but when you start winning titles it becomes hard to be more than just appreciative; hard to have an approach that doesn't replicate a dozen other pieces.

So - I'm not going to discuss triumph.  I'm not going to discuss tragedy.  I'm going to stay in my lane.

Moonlight Graham, as you know from Field of Dreams, played one game in his major league career, for the New York Giants in 1905.

8 men (with the usual caveat that I may have missed someone) have played only one game (through 2013) as San Francisco Giants.  For some it was the only game in their major league careers, but this list is a little bigger than that - my interest here is those who played only one game as San Francisco Giants, with a bonus if it turned out to be their only MLB game.   It's the Moonlight by the Bay Club.

Nick Testa : 4-23-58 - that's just a couple of weeks into our existence; at home against the Cards an 11 year organizational soldier Testa pinch ran for Ray Jablonski in the 8th, then caught the 9th, gave up a stolen base, made an error on a foul pop and less than a month later was out of the league forever.  This was his only major league game.

John Fitzgerald: 9-28-58 - five months later, also against St Louis, it happened again; Fitzgerald, a lefty, started his only MLB game, got Musial to hit into a DP in the first, which was probably the highlight of his life, then struck out the side in the second, gave up a homer in the third and left after 3, with a 3-1 lead in a game we’d go onto win. 

Marshall Renfroe 9-27-59 - as was the case with Fitzgerald a year before, our being eliminated from possible postseason games meant giving a prospect, in this case Renfroe a lefty, a start against the Cards in what would turn out to be his only major league game. He wasn't as successful. Renfroe gave up a homer to Musial in the first, then didn’t get anyone out in the third, left with the score 4-4, his two baserunners both scored, so he retired with an ERA of 27.00.  

Jeff Stember 8-5-80 - we drafted Stember a righty, right out of high school in '76, so he was still 22 when he started against St Louis (okay, it was Houston, 20 years after Renfroe we decided not to resume our weird Cardinal tradition) on his first major league pitch he gave up a homer to Terry Puhl.  I'll say it again - on his first major league pitch he gave up a home run. Jeff Stember is bizarro Kaz Matsui. He later balked in the same inning.  I don't know how many pitchers gave up homers on their first ever big league pitch - but I'm willing to say only Stember did that - and also balked - in his first ever big league inning in what would turn out to be his only ever big league game.  He later gave up a two run triple to Jose Cruz in the 3rd – Stember finished the inning (missing Bruce Bochy pinch hitting for the Astros an inning later) and that was his career. Next time someone asks for your favorite ever SFG - say Bonds, of course, but then give a nod to Stember.  

Tim Layana 7-26-93, - a righty, is the first guy on the list who had a prior (two seasons in Cincinnati) career other than his only SFG appearance. Bryan Hickerson got bombed by the Dodgers and Layana replaced him in the third, getting out of the inning. He put a couple guys on and gave up two stolen bases in the 4th, but no runs.  Then came the end of his career - Layana gave up 5 runs on 6 hits in the 5th including a two run homer to Henry Rodriguez.  We lost to LA 15-1 and never saw him again.  Retired with a WAR (B-Ref version) of 0.0

Kent Bottenfield, 8-6-94 - probably the only guy on the list you know, Bottenfield was 25 in '94, had already done stints with the Expos and Rockies when he pitched his only game for SFG. He came on in the 7th for Rich Monteleone, with SFG down 6-4 to the Astros. In the 8th he gave up a 2 run homer to Milt Thompson and didn’t get out of the inning. He had five teams left to pitch for; orange and black weren't his last colors.

John Roper 9-11-95, - Roper pitched heavily for the Reds in '93 and '94, then came over to SFG in that Deion Sanders trade in '95. In his only Giants appearance he came on in middle of a 10-1 beating by the Cards, threw one inning and gave up two walks, two hits and three earned runs and never saw the big leagues again.

Brian Powell 7-10-03 - He got a start in Coors when we were 20 games over .500,  gave up one in the second...then a 3 run homer to Preston Wilson in the 3rd... then two more bombs, including a second by Wilson in the 5th – he didn’t make it out of the inning and was in the Phillies organization by month’s end. 

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