Like men observing the behavior of addled ants under a magnifying glass, the two psychiatrists studied the Giants. Because they were Giant fans as well as doctors, they suffered, and finally they could stand it no longer. Next day their diagnosis landed on Page One of the Chronicle for all San Francisco to see: schizophrenia. The Giants, said the 42-point Gothic prescription, need a psychiatrist.
This was occasion for great merriment in the clubhouse and front office. Instead of laughing, the Giants should have been looking in the Yellow Pages. If the two doctors erred, it was on the side of caution. This team could use several psychiatrists; its problem is not just schizophrenia but a completely fragmented personality.
The Giant players are ashamed of the performance of the team, but it has apparently occurred to none of them to blame himself; a defeat is always the fault of someone else. They are resentful of the interference of the owner, Horace Stoneham, who from his private box high up in the stadium—or Bardelli's bar on O'Farrell Street—frequently tries to run the ball club on the field. They are contemptuous of their manager, Tom Sheehan, whom they consider an old clown. And they reserve a particularly virulent brand of hatred for that lovely, lethal monster, Candlestick Park, where hands freeze at high noon and the wind howls every day like Hurricane Donna. When playing there, all they can think of is escape; when on the road, they dread to return home.
Had the Giants been a team, in the sense that the Pirates are a team, complete with spirit and leadership and defiant pride in victory, even the misfortunes which befell them early in the year—Willie McCovey's collapse at the plate, the injuries to Jim Davenport and Eddie Bressoud, Don Blasingame's inability to match his old Cardinal performances—would not have broken the club into such small pieces. But the Giants of 1960 have never been a team—only a group of individuals, overpaid, over-publicized, overrated.
Even without leadership on the field, the Giants might have tried harder had the front office been willing to accept some of the stigma of defeat. But Stoneham feels only that the team let him down. What he does not admit is that he let the team down, too, first by overselling himself on its potentialities; then by removing its manager, Bill Rigney, in a moment of panic when the club was only four games out of first place in mid-June; and, finally, by giving the manager's job to his personal scout and drinking companion, a 66-year-old ex-house detective named Thomas Clancy Sheehan.
Of all the elements which have contributed to the Giant downfall this year, rival National Leaguers, as well as the Giants themselves, fasten first upon Candlestick Park. It is not easy to look inside a man, or a team, or an organization and discover why each failed to tick, nor, having found out the cause, is it pleasant to describe. But a baseball stadium, besides being a less dangerous topic of conversation, is a solid, measurable thing.
Candlestick Park is located on a point of land which juts into San Francisco Bay just south of town. The stadium nuzzles up against Morvey's Hill, which realtors have recently been calling Bay View Hill. In the mornings, except for some activity at a nearby garbage dump, it is a lovely, tranquil spot. Unfortunately, ball games are not played in the morning.
A TWO-HEADED MONSTER
Every day, usually about noon, the wind sweeps up from the south, splits around Morvey's Hill and attacks the stadium from two directions. By far the worst stream comes in from the northeast, over the left field stands, raging across the diamond and out toward right field, muffling the fabled power of Willie Maysand Orlando Cepeda, from which any hopes for a Giant pennant must spring. It doesn't help Felipe Alou and Davenport and the other right-hand hitters much, either.
In fact, the wind doesn't help anyone. Willie Kirkland, the best left-hand hitter on the club, has not profited a bit from the heroic tail wind, nor has Eddie Mathews of the Braves, who with his formidable ability to pull a ball hard down the right-field line should go crazy in Candlestick Park. So far, Mathews has failed to hit even one home run there. "Nobody can hit in that wind," says Bob Skinner of the Pirates. "It makes your eyes water." Says Rocky Nelson, who also hits left-handed for the same team: "It almost blows me over. I can't even stand still."