Some pictures from the San Francisco Chronicle‘s coverage of the first major league game on the West Coast: the Giants beating the Dodgers, 8-0, at Seals Stadium on Tuesday, April 15, 1958. The third picture’s of the parade through downtown on Monday the 14th. Some of the Chronicle’s account of the game comes after the pictures:
On the day of the game, the Chronicle’s Bob Stevens started off his story by saying, “The National League becomes national today at 1:30 p.m. when the San Francisco Giants meet the Los Angeles Dodgers in a history-making battle of baseballs at Seals Stadium.”
As for the game itself, the box score is here. But more interestingly, the Chronicle’s front page story talked of the final two tickets being scalped, at $15 each, to two sailors, and floral displays in the form of “a red horseshoe, a white baseball, a yellow bat”:
The band marched to centerfield, the flag went up, the national anthem was played. A few timid voices attempted to sing it, then gave up.
Next came the comedy interval, as familiar as any circus clown routine. San Francisco Mayor George Christopher took the mound, rared back and threw a blooper ball that narrowly missed the head of Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson, bravely standing his ground with a bat in his hand.
Christopher threw four times. Two other throws–they weren’t exactly pitches–were behind Poulson and one bounced over the plate. Poulson got his bat on one and sprinted merrily toward third base.”
On to the game itself. Bob Stevens was there, reporting on the action, and here’s some of what he wrote:
A capacity crowd of 23,448, at Seals Stadium, loud, colorful and enchanted, sat in whispering winds and under nursery blue skies to welcome major league to the shores of the Pacific, and got a show even a Barnum wouldn’t have dared to conceive. The Giants, proud and powerful in their soft white uniforms, battered into submission the Los Angeles Dodgers, behind the magnificent six-hit pitching of slender Ruben Gomez, the Puerto Rican cutie, and whistling home runs by veteran shortstop Daryl Spencer and rookie first baseman Orlando Cepeda.
In less than four innings [the Dodgers] great Don Drysdale, who deals wickedly from the side, had been swept out of the box, on the ground of which were little piles of white dust blasted from the resin bag as he slammed it down in disgust and frustration.
One of the Dodgers, right fielder Carl Furillo, nearly brained himself crashing into the cement wall of the bleachers trying to flag down the 390 foot shot unloaded by Cepeda.
From any angle you care to view it, this was a most unforgettable moment in the history of baseball in San Francisco. A minor league town since 1903, the Queen of Western cities wore robes of pure gold as she showed to the world her readiness to have and to hold National League—major league—baseball.
The thrill of reality, the fulfillment of the historic Westward Ho movement, came shortly after 1:30 p.m, when the pattern of the first big league game ever played on this side of the Rockies was established. Gomez struck out native-born Gino Cimoli.
[For the first run, in the bottom of the third] rookie Jimmy Davenport, playing his first major league game, ripped a long fly to right and Furillo, playing in shallow, turned his numbers to the crowd back of the plate and took off, reaching at the last moment to haul down what might have been a triple. The sacrifice fly scored [Danny] O’Connell and the Giants led the National League.
[In the fourth Daryl Spencer] the shortstop with fullback build snapped a home run into the pavilion at the 364 mark and, engulfed in a triumphant smile, slowly and with great dignity circled the bases, his gleaming spikes carrying him along the first home run trail in San Francisco major league history.
A sidebar column by Bill Leiser had fulsome praise for Davenport’s fielding, and added some of the firsts for the MLB in California. They included:
Cimoli hit the first foul ball, was the first strikeout, on a 3-2 count, and happened to be a son of San Francisco.
Jimmy Davenport made the first assist by getting Pee Wee Reese on a grounder and throwing it to Cepeda for the first putout.
Duke Snider got the first walk, off Ruben Gomez.
Mays grounded out in his first at bat.
Charlie Neal of the Dodgers got the first hit with a single to left.
Gil Hodges hit the first foul into the stands.
Gomes had the first Giants hit, a high bounder to third that loaded the bases in the third.
Gomez, Spencer, and Cepeda turned the first double play, in the fourth.
Jocko Conlan was the home plate umpire.
And, apparently just to add some zaniness, the Chronicle had a little snippet called “Wilmots” (as in bon mots, I suppose), and here’s the text of that tidbit:
Add baseball cats dictionary: when things are tenser, call on Spenser. Or: see ya ladah, Orlando Cepada.
The moles changed holes and confused the fans. The Bums were stewing Mulligan in the third base culvert and the Giants Fe-Fi-Fo-Fums were smelling blood in the first base dugout. Different from last year, but what isn’t?
It was decided not to call the Dodgers Bums. But, after 8-0 it should be the other way around, don’t call the Bums Dodgers. A hobo’s a hobo–even in a sack suit.
By the way, when George Christopher died at 92, on September 14, 2000, in San Francisco, Dianne Feinstein issued this statement: “As mayor, George set a course for the city as an international destination, a major league baseball city and a financial center for the West. Whether it was bringing the Giants to San Francisco, expanding the city’s business base or putting the city on the international map, the San Francisco of today has its roots in his remarkable years as mayor.”
And, when Gino Cimoli died on February 12, 2011, the San Francisco Chronicle obituary featured his status as the first West Coast batter in MLB history.