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07/31/10 7:59 PM ET
Giants honor Aurilia, Estes on Wall of Fame
Former pitcher, infielder join 44 other San Francisco greats
By Cash Kruth / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Shawn Estes and Rich Aurilia helped begin a new era of winning baseball in San Francisco in the late 1990s. On Saturday morning, the two players took their place among the greatest players in San Francisco Giants history. Estes, a left-handed pitcher who played with the Giants from 1995-2001, and Aurilia, who spent 12 years primarily as the Giants' shortstop, became the 45th and 46th players to be honored on the Giants Wall of Fame. "They are going to be remembered here forever," said Mark Gardner, current bullpen coach and a former teammate of Aurilia and Estes. "To me, they were two great teammates, coming up in '96 as two young whippersnappers. We got into an injury bind -- we had 13 rookies that year -- and these guys withstood the test of time and lasted and became the core here in San Francisco." In order to be honored on the Wall, players must have played a minimum of nine seasons for the San Francisco Giants, or five seasons with at least one All-Star selection as a Giant. In 1997, his first full season in the Majors, Estes went 19-5 with a 3.18 ERA and was named an All-Star as the Giants went worst to first and won the club's first National League West crown since 1989. Aurilia also was with the big club periodically throughout the season, including late in the year as a September callup. It was the beginning of what managing general partner Bill Neukom described as "one of the most successful periods in San Francisco Giants baseball history" and "the beginning of a baseball renaissance in San Francisco." From 1997-2001 -- Estes' final season as a Giant -- San Francisco finished first or second every season, also winning the NL West title in 2000. During those years, Estes went 61-42, posting double-digit win totals three times, with a 4.26 ERA and 721 strikeouts. Estes, who jokingly said he appreciated seeing all the No. 55 Tim Lincecum jerseys Saturday in Estes' honor (Estes also wore No. 55 when he was with the Giants), called his seven seasons in the San Francisco organization the "most enjoyable time of my career." Aurilia played 12 seasons (1995-2003, 2007-09) for the Giants, hitting .275 with 143 home runs and was named to the 2001 All-Star team. He now is an analyst for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, but said he still is a Giant. "I root for these guys every day, even when I cover them on TV, and I want them to get back to the postseason, too," Aurilia told the crowd of about 200. "Let's hope they do that and hopefully I'll be part of the Giants family for a long, long time to come." Estes spent only seven seasons with the Giants but said, "It's always a crapshoot in this game. I've had some bad years on good teams and good years on bad teams, but I have to say that every season with the Giants was a great year."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.