The New York Giants relocated to San Francisco back in 1958 at the same time as the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. The moves obviously upset legions of New York baseball fans but as it bought major league baseball to the West Coast the moves were certainly welcomed by thousands of Californians.
So why did the Giants move to San Francisco?
In 1957 the NY Giants were a poor team in decline. Results and attendances were patchy and the stadium at the Polo Field was in need of renovation. Owner Horace Stoneman thought that a move west would revitalise the team and his finances.
By contrast the Brooklyn Dodgers were the more popular and successful team and the owner a Brooklyn lawyer called Walter O Malley resented the fact that TV and radio rights had to be shared with his rivals. In addition, he wanted to build a better stadium as Ebbets Field certainly wasn’t doing it any more, and a new stadium was ruled out by the City of Brooklyn.
O Malley wanted to relocate to Los Angeles because the City promised to build a new stadium and because Los Angeles was a rapidly expanding city that seemed to promise a profitable future.
There were conditions for the move to the West. At a meeting for the National League Owners held on May 28th 1957, the two owners were informed that both teams had to move West or the deal was off. This was because without another West Coast major league team, the nearest rivals would have been 1600 miles away in Kansas.
They also had to announce their plans before the deadline of October 1st 1957. Both owners agreed and plans were put in place.
So exactly when did the Giants move to San Francisco?
The Giants played their final game at the Polo Field at the end of the 1957 season and then moved to San Francisco for the start of the 1958 season. The team were welcomed in a ticker tape parade and the West Coast went crazy for baseball both in San Francisco and Los Angeles with their respective new teams.
The New York fans they left behind were undoubtedly upset by the move but the two teams instantly attracted thousands of new fans on the West Coast which was good news for the future of the teams and for the profits to the owners.
The Giants played their first game against the Dodgers at the Seals Stadium (their temporary home until Candlestick Park was built) on April 15th 1958. The Giants beat the Dodgers 8 -0 in front of over 23, 000 fans.
When did the Giants move to San Francisco is a long time ago now but the move saw an instant improvement to the team’s fortunes. By 1960 they had amassed 1.8 million fans and today 63 years on, the Giants are an integral part of the San Francisco sporting landscape.
To find out more about the history of San Francisco, and the Giants check out the San Francisco Chronicle archive.