Growing up a San Francisco Giants fan in the 1970s, hope could be a little hard to come by sometimes. The team was annually incompetent and even in the best of years would finish dozens of games behind perennial division powerhouses the Dodgers and the Big Red Machine. But I found a great source of sustaining hope right in my own backyard in the San Joaquin Valley, attending Cal League games. The Giants then Cal League affiliate in Fresno gave a thrill that the lackluster San Francisco squad of the 70s couldn’t match. 18-year old Jack Clark hitting moonshots. Chili Davis playing C. Heck, even Johnnie LeMaster was new and exciting in the Cal League (you know, he was the 6th overall pick in the draft).
Giants fortunates at the major league level got a lot better as the decades turned, but I never lost the thrill of watching the kids and checking out the next big thing (even when that “next” stretched on for years and years and years for a Giants franchise that struggled to produce stars after Will Clark and Matt Williams.
I’m still watching the future. No longer a Californian, I live on the East Coast now, where I check in on the Richmond Flying Squirrels and the rest of the Eastern and Carolina Leagues around me. Minors in the evening and then settle in for the 10 o’clock west coast Giants game, enjoying that up and down the lineup the Giants employ players I can say “I knew when….”
If you ever have any questions about the Giants, their minor league system, or anything San Francisco-related, feel free to drop me a line or hit me up on Twitter at @rog61.