SAN FRANCISCO — It was time for another celebration at Oracle Park this past weekend.
On a beautiful summer Saturday afternoon, the San Francisco Giants honored the 2012 World Series championship team in a ceremony before their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the team winning its second championship in the city by the Bay.
Players and coaches from the 2012 team paraded in from center field and sat inside the infield as Giants broadcaster Dave Flemming was the MC of the event and interviewed groups of players and coaches in attendance to reflect on the season that brought San Francisco its second championship in three years in a ceremony that lasted roughly 45 minutes.
The 2012 season, to quote the late great Freddie Mercury of the band QUEEN, was not exactly a bed of roses, no pleasure cruise. There was a lot of adversity to the season that included various bumps in the road both off and on the field.
Closer Brian Wilson was lost early on to a season ending injury. Outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for taking PED’s. The team morale took a bit of a nosedive when the Cabrera suspension happened in August.
Two key pieces to the team were added at the trade deadline in outfielder Hunter Pence and infielder Marco Scutaro who came from Philadelphia and Colorado respectively.
Despite not having their closer or their All-Star outfielder, the 2012 team used those adversities to become a tight bunch. The chemistry that was created led to one of the most improbable playoff runs in franchise history.
Down, 2-0 to Cincinnati in the NLDS, Pence became the reverend that the team needed at that exact moment and the Giants were able to make history in becoming the first team in the National League to comeback from such a deficit to win the series. In the NLCS, down 3-1, it took the greatest start from Barry Zito in a Giants uniform to propel the series back to San Francisco where they won the pennant in seven games.
Then they shocked the baseball world by sweeping the invincible Detroit Tigers in four games. Pablo Sandoval set the tone by hitting three home runs in Game 1 and the Giants starting pitching outdueled the best rotation in baseball that season.
Pence, Zito, Matt Cain (who pitched a perfect game that season) and Angel Pagan reflected on those moments after the ceremony on how the team was able to defy all odds that season and bring home another championship to the organization.
“I can even remember the smells of that year of how special it was,” Pagan said. “These group of guys were very special. What we did in 2012 facing six elimination games, facing the Detroit Tigers. We refused to lose one game. And then when went to the World Series, we knew we couldn’t lose another game.”
Pagan said what made that team special was all the different personalities on the team and how they believed in themselves and each other.
The one moment Pagan holds dearly from that season is after the final out, the elation he felt as the season flashed before his eyes with all the trials and tribulations the team dealt with from the beginning of spring training to Buster Posey catching the final strike in Game 4.
“So much goes through your head. That final out when Sergio Romo threw that pitch down the middle to Miguel Cabrera, it’s like everything went through my head in seconds, how worth it was to leave it all out there for your teammates. It’s special. We had to work on the chemistry that everything happened so perfect,” Pagan said.
For Zito, it was a feeling of redemption. He was left off the 2010 postseason roster when the Giants won the first of three World Series in a five-year stretch. Zito had felt the weight of the world on his shoulders when he signed the mega deal with San Francisco back in 2007 and not being able to live up to the expectations from the fans.
“From a personal standpoint, obviously the Game 5 (of the NLCS) in St. Louis,” said Zito. “Just really having a redemptive moment with the fans of San Francisco after struggling and falling short of expectations.”
After having personal success with the Oakland A’s, Zito had to wait a while longer to experience a team championship and going through that journey made him appreciate the accomplishment as he grew older.
“I won a Cy Young (award) earlier in my career. I think just being a younger man, I wasn’t as evolved as I would have like to have been. I felt like personal achievement was the same as team achievement. But I can say as a wiser, older man, a team achievement just feels so much better because it’s so much more rare to have all the parts come together and the way they need to perfectly to do something like we did,” Zito said.
Cain said he really appreciated the way the Giants staved off elimination time after time during the playoff run and how that group came together when it needed to with their backs against the wall.
“I think my favorite thing about (the) 2012 (season) was the fact that guys got put in situations where we had to figure out if we were going to be able to win the last games. The guys did it. We found ways to figure out what elimination truly felt like and we did it a lot. And it was pretty cool to be apart of that,” Cain said.
2012 was the best season personally for Cain as he threw the franchise’s only perfect game and pitched well in both clinching games of the NLCS and World Series.
“That was the highlight of my career from front to back for a season. It was a tremendous year, something you always dream of. It was one of those (years) you always wish you could repeat but it’s so hard to do until you see guys that are able to go out and repeat (having) exceptional years. You tip your cap to those guys,” said Cain.
Pence remembers how excited he was to have the opportunity to play in a pennant race and help make a difference to a team with an already established group of talent.
“It was an amazing group,” Pence said. “The fans, we were sold out (the rest of the season), the high energy (they brought). I was just excited to compete and play. You know to get a shot at postseason baseball. It’s my passion, it’s my love. We had a blast; it was good times.”
Pence’s favorite moment during the playoff run was coming back home for Game 6 of the NLCS and the electric energy of the crowd.
“We’re flying back and we were like they are coming to our house and we had Vogey (Ryan Vogelsong) and (Matt) Cain. And I’ll never forget them chanting ‘Vogey’. Obviously clinching it in the rain (in Game 7). (Marco) Scutaro and the whole bit. It felt like there was something special going in that it was a run with destiny,” Pence said.
There were many memorable moments of the 2012 Giants season, from Cain’s perfect game, to Posey’s grand slam off of Matt Latos in Game 5 of the NLDS, to Scutaro posing in the rain as the heavens opened up in the 9th inning of the NLCS to the celebration of the sweep in Detroit.
This team will be remembered as one of the best to have played in the illustrious history of this franchise. Their accomplishment will be one to be celebrated for many more years to come as a decade past felt like it happened not that long ago.
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Reliever Dominic Leone after the Giants 9-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLDS on October 9, 2021.
Third Baseman Kris Bryant sat down with the media before Sunday's game to discuss what it feels like to be traded to San Francisco.
Manager Bruce Bochy after the Giants 9-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 29, 2019. This was his final game as Giants manager.