10/01/2003 3:51 PM ET
Pac Bell honors the past
SAN FRANCISCO -- As Giants fans settled into their seats for Game 2 of the National League Division Series between the Giants and Marlins on Wednesday, hoping to see their team add another memorable chapter to their storied history, four players representing some of the greatest moments in that history threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Willie McCovey, Mike Ivie, Will Clark and Brian Johnson were tabbed for the honor because of their involvement in the five winners of the Giants' "Classic Memories" campaign. Fans were asked to pick one top memory from each decade since the team moved to San Francisco through the the last year at Candlestick Park.
"I told my wife I thought it was a great honor," said Clark, who got the game-winning hit in the game that clinched the 1989 National League pennant, the fans' choice for top memory from the 1980s. "That's why when they said, 'Can you come throw out the first pitch to honor that memory?' I said, 'Yeah! I'll be out there.' I'm pretty fired up about it."
Each of the winning memories will be immortalized in the Giants' new history walk in China Basin Park. A 570-foot seat wall in the park, located across McCovey Cove from Pacific Bell Park, already includes plaques for each team from 1958 to 1999, noting every player on each team, the manager, coaches, trainers and general manager; how the team finished; awards won; the Opening Day lineup; and the team leaders in batting and pitching.
"I'm extremely honored," said Mike Ivie, who smacked a pinch-hit grand slam on May 28, 1978, to beat the defending NL champion Dodgers, the memory voted tops in the 1970s.
"It was a moment in my life I'll never forget, either. The fans saw something good. I was able to produce and do my thing, and the way it set up, against the Dodgers -- of course, the rivalry still stands to this day. It was one of the most memorable moments of my baseball career."
Johnson also provided an unforgettable homer to beat the Dodgers, clubbing a first-pitch shot in the 12th inning of a Sept. 18, 1997, contest to put the Giants in a tie for first with Los Angeles en route to winning the NL West that year.
"It was pretty humbling," said Johnson of having that moment chosen as the best memory of the 1990s. "For all the good stuff that's happened with this organization, especially in those 10 years, it was humbling. I really didn't know what to say.
"I remember it was a great game, and the celebration afterward, you can't get any better than that."
The three were joined by McCovey, whose 4-for-4 debut in 1959 topped such 1950s memories as the Giants moving to San Francisco and the first Major League game on the West Coast. McCovey also played on the 1962 team that won a three-game playoff against the Dodgers, and that pennant-clinching moment was chosen as the best from the 1960s.
The four got a standing ovation from the crowd as they were announced and made their ceremonial tosses.
"Excellent, very pleasing," said Ivie of the response. "If you don't actually live in the town where you played and had good years, people soon forget, no matter what kind of player you are. But even taxi drivers and people on the wharf or whatever, once they realize who you are, they remember, and it makes you feel so good, that maybe just one time out of your whole life that somebody recognized what you could on a baseball field. It feels good.
Said Clark: "I enjoyed playing in front of these people. I thoroughly enjoyed it. ... Guys through the years made impacts on all of these fans here, and the fans remember them. Believe me, as much as the fans think of me, that's how much I think of them, too, because I never could have done it without them."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Chris Shuttlesworth / MLB.com