…And 10+ other Giants who are now equally deserving to have their own seagull guano catcher.
I can’t really feign too much outrage when it comes to last week’s Gaylord Perry statue unveiling at AT&T park when there are so many other mini-crimes committed within those inexplicable brick walls (I had no idea the industrial garbage barge that used to occupy China Basin was originally a kiln. What’s with all the Snapchat pandering …and the whole sushi thing? Raping the oceans in the one sacred place to enjoy a hot dog — is still after all these years a hard no.)
As permanent as they are meant to be, statues are meant to crumble, melt down, be dismantled or effing forced down by rebellions. It’s as if the moment they’re unveiled they’re almost taunting to be destroyed or are otherwise challenging every earthly creature from the birds above to the worms below to deface or debase it.
Also, ever since I saw Lionel Richie’s “Hello” video at the very formative age of third grade, well, how do I put this — I haven’t really been able to take sculpture seriously.
Those notions were redoubled by Carol Brady’s spooky bust of Robert Reed’s perm. What’s with statues and curls?
So am I incensed when it comes to the fact that the Giants just unveiled a likeness of a journeyman pitcher who spent only the first decade of his 22-season, eight-team career with them? Not really.
Does the Perry statue establish a
dangerous strange precedent and, at the same time, become a constant target for the last name to be crossed out and replaced with Focker? Absolutely.
Perry is a Hall of Famer (who arguably did his best work in an Indians and Padres uniform.) But a Cooperstown bust seems the biggest prereq for SF-era Giant to eventually be cast like Han Solo in carbon on the shores of whatever the fuck Mission Rock is. Which is fine, the list includes the already immortalized at the park’s front entrance, Willie Mays, the other Willie (McCovey) whose sculpture presides over a small inlet of water that also bears his name.
But it would stand to reason that a few other Giants have already made their case for their own life-sized vaguely similar facsimiles/perma selfie stand-ins/giant paperweights.
To wit, the Perry unveiling opens up the conversation for statuary of:
- Tim Lincecum: 9 Seasons with the Giants, three world Series rings, two no-hitters and two Cy Youngs. Also, giving a sculptor a crack at 2008–’09 era Timmy hair and that elongated stride toward home is just too good to pass up.
- Madison Bumgarner: 8 Seasons (and counting) with the Giants, three World Series rings, statistically the greatest post-season pitcher of all time and well, you’re going to be paying the sculptor overtime to also fashion the horse he will be riding.
- Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper: Krukow as a player spent 7 seasons with the Giants with one All-Star appearance, one 20-game win season and has now spent more than three decades in the booth. Krukow, the announcer, is the comic relief half of baseball’s best on-air team — long-time partner/best friend Duane Kuiper (4 seasons with the Giants, 0 home runs) deserves to be sidling up forever next to Kruk for playing straight man all these years. Though both are different shades of vanilla, Krukow’s knowledge of pitching and California-intense approach and Kuiper’s empathy for infielders in-game has evolved broadcasting from the press box down. In fact, were one to ask them, their future statues could probably act as headstones.
- Will Clark: 8 seasons with the Giants as a player, five All-Star appearances, three World Series rings as a special instructor and now member of the front office. From his first at-bat (a homerun off Nolan Ryan ← watch Krukow’s retelling and do it with a blanket because you’ll get the chills) till today, there is nobody more fiery and passionate in the clubhouse. If someone makes an argument that it was Clark (career .303 batting average, and .881 OPS) who brought swagger to San Francisco, I’ll cheers to that.
- Hunter Pence: 5 seasons (and counting) with the Giants, two All Star appearances and two World Series rings, the keeper of baseball’s Iron Man belt (post-Ripken era) and the man who made “The Speech” getting up in the middle of the locker room just two months after joining the team and firing up the Giants who were on the verge of being swept out of the 2012 playoffs in a divisional series against the Reds. Pence may also go down as the most difference-making trade the Giants’ front office has made since moving to San Francisco.
- Bob Brenly: 8 seasons with the Giants, and the cerebral nucleus of Roger Craig’s Humm Baby crew which evolved baseball in San Francisco from a trash-swirling dirge on the shores of Candlestick Point to the mega-conglomerate it is today. Brenly later went on to win a World Series as the skipper of the Diamondbacks (2001) and is known as one of baseball’s surviving gurus and calls a great color game for the D-backs.
- Brian Sabean: Baseball’s longest-tenured GM (18 seasons, 1997 to 2014) and current EVP baseball operations/GM emeritus. He succeeded general manager Bob Quinn. Who? Exactly. And put the West Coast back on baseball’s map. The Giants had a winning record in thirteen of the eighteen seasons in which Sabean served as GM/architect of the ‘10s dynasty. Sabean, who can be at once brilliant (Pence) and mind-blowingly bad (Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser for AJ Pierzynski) in in-season trades, has managed to build a farm system and scouting team that cranks out homegrown talent at a clip so noteworthy, baseball has literally gone from a free agent arms race to who can grow their own in under a decade. Three World Series rings (and counting?) goes a long way to make a case that someone should be sketching out how his two-day growth signature goatee is going to show up on the statue.
- Bruce Bochy: 10 seasons (and counting) as the Giants skipper, three World Series rings. There are perhaps more loveable (Craig, Dusty Baker) managers in the San Francisco era, but nobody has shown he understands players, who they are as individuals and — more notably, how to use them situationally — than Bochy. I hope his statue moves around the stadium Disney Hall of Presidents style, because I’d hate to ever not hear that gravelly voice anymore.
- Dave Righetti: 3 years (player) 17 years (pitching coach) the Pioneer High (San Jose) grad has meant everything to the Giants. He was blessed with one of the greatest batteries of this century (Posey and Lincecum/Bumgarner/Cain et. al) but also became chief head shrinker for the likes of Rod Beck, Armando Benítez, Robb Nen, Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo and most recently (with middling success) Santiago Casilla. For that reason alone his statue should be erected under the left field bleachers so nobody or nothing shits on him anymore.
- Gerald Dempsey “Buster” Posey III: 8 seasons (and counting), Rookie of the Year, MVP, three World Series Rings (and caught the last out of all three resulting in #busterhugs trending once every other year), guy you want your sister/daughter/niece …hell, son…to bring home. Led the league in hitting and OPS in 2012 and the MLB made a new rule about how to not run into catchers for him.
Honorable mentions if we’re going to shoot for a true chessboard at the park:
Robbie Thompson (with a huge chaw in his left cheek), Pablo Sandoval (especially if the prodigal Panda comes back), Kevin Mitchell (bare-handed grab frozen for all time), Hackman Leonard (one flap down), Sherry Davis (former legal secretary and FIRST female announcer in MLB history/ceiling-breaker for Renel), Matt Williams (only if he’s doing his Babe Ruth impression), J.T. Snow (scooping up Darin Baker while crossing home), Chris Speier (just because he was my dad’s favorite), Johnnie LeMaster (bronzed in his ‘Boo’ jersey), Tsuyoshi Shinjo (wearing his Darth Vader get-up…and wristbands), Atlee Hammaker (and his face after he gave up a grand slam in the All Star game to Freddy Lynn), Crazy Crab (obvi, especially after this doc short directed by Colin Hanks), Larry Baer (see: Mike Brady curls) Barry Zito (riding a unicorn), Sean Estes (sliding into second) …and one giant Barry Lamar Bonds that stands where the Coke bottle slide is now…mounted atop a huge asterisk with a 36 oz. bat-size syringe over his left shoulder.
And, of course, My Dad: 56 seasons with the Giants, two World Series titles (three if you count the season of the year he passed), more than 9,000 games listened to on KNBR or attended in person (listening to KNBR in the stands) — and a half century of never giving up even when it was fashionable to do exactly that.
So let’s start commissioning right now. Never can have too many statues — especially when the current ball field is simmering under 10 feet of water 50 years from now, it’ll be San Francisco’s very own Atlantis.
Image Courtesy: MLB.com