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You gotta like these kids.

Posted on August 28, 2015

Kelby Tomlinson #37 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates with his teammates Marlon Byrd #6, Buster Posey #28, and Brandon Belt #9 at home plate after hitting a grand slam home run against the Chicago Cubs in the bottom of the 8th inning during the game at AT&T Park on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

 

In 1986 the San Francisco Giants were coming off a dismal 100-loss season. Under the new regime of general manager Al Rosen and skipper Roger Craig there was hope when spring training camp opened in Scottsdale that February. Rookies like Robbie Thompson and Will Clark would be in the starting lineup on opening night in Houston. Giants marketing genius Pat Gallagher came up with the club’s marketing slogan that year: “You gotta like these kids.” The fans embraced the slogan as the young ballplayers helped the team get off to a great start that led to a winning 83-79 season. The young nucleus went on to win the National League West in 1987.

Giants fans all over the Bay Area wore this shirt proudly in 1986.

Fast forward to the 2015 Giants, yesterday specifically, and you will find a team that is relying heavily on a hungry group of young kids to keep this M*A*S*H unit of a squad in the pennant race, 2.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West. Injuries to to many of starting position players and starting pitchers have ravaged the roster, but recent minor league call-up Kelby Tomlinson has done a fabulous job filling in at second base for the injured Joe Panik. Tomlinson’s teammate and roomie last season in AA ball while playing for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Giants starting third sacker Matt Duffy, proved how tough Long Beach State Dirtbags really are by starting yesterday’s game at third base (his 44th straight start) after suffering a bad ankle sprain the night before. Duffy knew there was no one else on the bench who could play third, and he hates taking days off.

Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs gets ready in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs gets ready in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the game at AT&T Park on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Nori Aoki #23 of the San Francisco Giants is tagged out at home plate by Chicago Cubs catcher Kyle Schwarber #12 during the game at AT&T Park on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Aoki was trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

On a spectacular 80-degree day at AT&T Park the Giants were hosting the insanely hot Cubs in a 12:45 matinee. I had just seen the Cubs sweep the Giants in four straight games at Wrigley Field a few weeks ago. I know how loaded the Cubs are, especially with their great rookies Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant having monster freshman campaigns. I was excited to shoot the Cubs kids, especially since they were wearing their classic grey tops, as opposed to their awful dark blue jerseys they usually wear on the road. Luckily for the Giants and the sellout crowd it was the Giants kids, and a guy named Bumgarner on the hill who were the stars of the day.

Kelby Tomlinson #37 of the San Francisco Giants connects for a grand slam home run against the Chicago Cubs in the bottom of the 8th inning during the game at AT&T Park on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Kelby Tomlinson #37 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates with his teammates Marlon Byrd #6, Buster Posey #28, and Brandon Belt #9 at home plate after hitting a grand slam home run against the Chicago Cubs in the bottom of the 8th inning during the game at AT&T Park on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Matt Duffy #5 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates with his teammates after the game against the Chicago Cubs at AT&T Park on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Skeeter, a cat belonging to Matt Duffy #5 of the San Francisco Giants, appears on the scoreboard during the game against the Chicago Cubs at AT&T Park on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Not showing any signs of a limp, Duffy strode to the plate in the bottom of the third inning with a runner on third base and put the Giants ahead to stay 2-1 with a ground single up the middle for his 60th RBI of the season. As he rounded the bag at first his cat Skeeter made an appearance on the scoreboard, much to the delight of the cheering fans (see above).

When Tomlinson came to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th inning, the bespectacled kid from Oklahoma was already a crowd favorite. He is hitting .346 since he was called up on August 3, 2015 and is improving every day at second base, which is not his normal position. By the time he floated around the bases after belting his first big league home run, a grand slam no less, his name was etched forever in Giants lore. San Francisco Chronicle sports writer Ann Killion was a wrote a wonderful column about the Giants kids “Kelby Tomlinson makes grand contribution to cool, calm Giants” that is worth checking out for some great quotes from the post-game clubhouse after the 9-1 win.

The last five weeks of the season are going to be exciting. The Giants are lucky to have all these home-grown kids on the club. Without them they would look a lot more like the 1985 team, and that would not be pretty.

What Others Are Saying

  1. Ernie Giovannoni August 28, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Got to love the kids. Vets living on the DL. Future is with the youth

  2. Ernie Giovannoni August 28, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    At age 64 I got my first tattoo. The Giants SF. Been a fan since I could hold a 9 volt battery radio to my ear. Was born in the BA in 51. Will always be a fan no matter of degree of torture

  3. William August 28, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    These photos are fantastic Brad! Always enjoy your work!

  4. Tom Duffy August 28, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Hey Brad, this is a great write up and cool set of images. It was a super special day for a very deserving young ball player, and you did a wonderful job of capturing it. Kelby and his family will be so excited to have your images as an official record of his first big league home run, and no doubt they’ll be showing them off for generations to come.

    I really enjoyed this read- well done, my friend. 😉

    Tom

  5. Pingback: Giants rookie Matt Duffy had a terrific season - Mangin Photography Archive

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