In 1976, the San Francisco Giants headed north of the border and became the Toronto Giants - or so the sportswriters of the time would have you believe. In The Giants and Their City: Major League Baseball in San Francisco, 1976-1992 (Kent State UP, 2021), the journalist and scholar Lincoln Mitchell explains how the team and the city narrowly avoided what seemed in the moment to be an inevitable fate. Mitchell tells the story of a baseball team in a period of transition, much like the city it called home, and of the players, owners, managers, politicians, and fans, who fought to keep the Giants in the city by the bay. The team was often mediocre, and San Francisco itself ailing in the aftermath of the tumultuous and often violent late 1970s. Together, both team and town searched for a new direction as America entered the Reagan years. The Giants and Their City is a history of a baseball team, but more than that, it's a story about the identity of a city, the people who live there, and those stick with a team through thick and thin, or in San Francisco's case, through cold wind and a terrible mascot.
Lincoln Mitchell can be heard on the "Say It Ain't Contagious Podcast," a show about baseball, politics, and social justice.
Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.