Wagner’s Love Of Baseball Spurs Book Series
Jeff Wagner loves baseball, and especially the San Francisco Giants.
They Played Baseball For The Giants? - A History Of Forgotten Players From New York To San Francisco (www.mascotbooks.com) is a 63-page fun read.
You read and learn. The names who Wagner reminds us that wore a Giants uniform will blow you away. Greats of the game's past - Dan Quisenberry, Deion Sanders, and the hall of fame twosome of Randy Johnson and Gary Carter wore Giant uniforms late in their careers.
Darryl Strawberry, who charted 17 MLB seasons, including a World Series championship with the New York Mets in 1986 and three more in the late 1990's as a New York Yankee, even he played a season (1994) in San Francisco.
Technically, the late, great Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson was a member of the Giants. Traded by Brooklyn after the 1956 season to the then New York Giants, Robinson decided after a decade in Dodger blue to retire.
Wagner's work, to me, measures up to that of a unique baseball media guide. There's nothing complicated, from cover to cover. On page 46, Wagner reminds us that future hall-of-famer Duke Snider finished his career during the 1964 season by playing 91 games for San Francisco.
Each page offers a player's profile, and a synopsis on how their celebrated careers brought them to be a Giant.
Along with the Giants book, Wagner has made his love for statistics bring him to authoring five additional They Played Baseball For books, focusing on the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, and Dodgers (from Brooklyn to L.A.).
Calling the San Francisco area home, Wagner enjoys telling about attending his first Giants game at Candlestick Park back in 1971. His love for the game is deep and sincere.
"I'm a technical writer by trade," Wagner said during a recent telephone conversation. "Each book, I look at between 30 to 35 players. The Yankees have the longest history and biggest fan base. The Yankees book was published last spring. The Red Sox book came out last week."
Even a stats guy like Wagner, a self-proclaimed fan of baseball-reference.com, get surprised with the more research they do.
"Rogers Hornsby and Johnny Mize playing for the Giants surprised me. Early in the 20th century, I didn't know that Jim Thorpe was a Giant, or that he played baseball. Frankie Frisch was a rookie with the Giants. Hack Wilson, too."
For baseball geeks, especially, They Played Baseball For The Giants is a treasure trove of history that continues to wow you, page by page.
On page 4, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham is the first former Giants player to be featured. And why shouldn't he be? On June 29, 1905, Graham played in his only game for the Giants, and in the Major Leagues. If Graham's name sounds familiar, it should. In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, Graham's character has his dream to play in a big league game come true.
The more you read They Played Baseball For The Giants, the more you will be blown away with the names that come up. Bobby Murcer will forever be an endeared Yankee to the New York fan base. But, he was a Giant, as well. Wagner explains the how and why. Joe Carter. His walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series brought a championship to Toronto. Yep, he, too, played home games in San Francisco.
For some baseball fans, it's hard to fathom picturing some of the players chosen by Wagner in a Giants uniform. Al Oliver, Steve Carlton, Warren Spahn, and Orel Hershiser are in this group. Thanks to Wagner's research and enthusiasm, the thought becomes more palpable.
Who knew there are 66 players/managers enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown that suited up for the Giants? This is the most of any baseball franchise in the game's history.
Wagner's They Played Baseball For The Giants is a quick and informative read. It's a reference guide that you'll want to keep handy. Why? It's what baseball fans do.
Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter living in the Mohawk Valley. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.