Vice-President Charles (Chub) Feeney, one of most likable and efficient young executives in baseball, backs up Giants' owner, Horace Stoneham, a baseball man to his fingertips. Manager Bill Rigney, starting second season at helm, has taken full charge for first time. More confident, also tougher, he will stand or fall with team he fields in 1957. Old Yank Star Tommy Henrich is first-base and hitting coach, Former Reds Star Bucky Walters handles the pitchers, and ex-Giant Infielder Davey Williams third.
ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S GIANTS
Giants really consist of three chaps named Mays, Antonelli and Schoendienst. In the incomparable Willie Mays they have league's answer to Mickey Mantle. He does everything in center field but mow the grass. One of most versatile of big hitters in baseball today, Willie led the league in batting in 1954, in home runs in 1955 and in stolen bases last year. If his hitting fell off in 1956, it must be remembered that Mays, unlike Mantle, didn't have Yogi Berra following him at bat. Johnny Antonelli, the bonus baby who made good in big way, is one of best left-handers in baseball. Over the last seven weeks of 1956 season he was probably the very best—winning 11 and losing only one. After a dozen major league seasons Red Schoendienst is still the premier second baseman in the league. The sore arm that bothered him last season is mended, and it is reasonable to expect another .300 season from him.
There is a critical need for batting power around Willie Mays. The team tied with eighth-place Cubs last year as worst in batting and was all by itself in scoring fewest runs, getting fewest hits and knocking in fewest men. Willie Mays's potential is muted by lack of big hitter to complement him in lineup. Of necessity, catching burden falls back on broad shoulders and weak bat of Wes Westrum. First base is questionable until Gail Harris can prove that his springtime hitting is not foiled by summer's curve balls. Shortstop depends entirely on the performance of Rookie Andre Rodgers, a springtime sensation with bat and glove. If he fails to materialize, it's back to .221 Hitter Daryl Spencer or .227 Hitter Ed Bressoud. At third base the same story prevails; behind a rookie candidate (Ossie Virgil) is Foster Castleman (.226), Henry Thompson (.235) and Bressoud. In the outfield Don Mueller's usually reliable hitting fell sharply last year, and he will have to show that the slump was only temporary. In left field ancient Hank Sauer's durability is questionable, and Dusty Rhodes, a plodding craftsman, has never relived those golden days of 1954.
ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Giants thought they might have sleeper in Rookie Shortstop Andre Rodgers, and he has more than lived up to advance reports during spring training. His range, strong arm and smoothness on double play have impressed everyone, and his power at the plate has seemingly clinched the job for him. Another rookie, Ossie Virgil, has been given every opportunity to win third base. His fielding is adequate but there are doubts about his hitting. A new face but an old friend is First Baseman-Outfielder Whitey Lockman, who took brief, enforced leave of absence last summer with Cardinals. With Lockman again hitting sharp singles to all fields, a place has to be found in the lineup for him. Ancient Hank Sauer was picked up as a free agent in the hope he could add power to the team. Thirty-six-year-old Rookie Fernando Rodriguez, who has been toiling for the last 12 years in the minors, now has his big chance and could make it as Hoyt Wilhelm's replacement in the bullpen.
THE BIG IFS
If Gail Harris has really found himself and hits as he did in the minors, if old Hank Sauer can help young Willie Mays get the club off to a good start before the heat of summer hits him, if Rookies Andre Rodgers and Ossie Virgil hit better than their predecessors at short and third, if Don Mueller returns to form—then the club could very well finish better than last year, as Bill Rigney feverishly tells everyone.
During the past 56 years the Giants have had the league's best won-lost record by some 25 percentage points. For those who prefer the long-range view, this statistic indicates that the team belongs among the leaders. But not this year, when only the Cubs are inferior on paper. Of course, Bill Rigney might prove himself a managerial genius and, with superhuman help from Mays, Antonelli and Schoendienst—the only championship players on the squad—climb as high as fifth. The future is gloomy but not yet hopeless.
Shaped like old-fashioned bathtub, park is fairly clean and rest rooms about average. As in other New York parks, Harry M. Stevens, Inc. handles refreshments without imagination. Servicemen admitted free. Ushers are numerous and expect tip for any service. Get there early when Dodgers are in town.
Quickest, easiest and cheapest way to reach park is by subway. From midtown, use Independent line's D train to the 155th St. station. It will take from 20 minutes to half an hour and cost 15�. Cabs take longer (via FDR Drive quickest) and cost about $3.50 including tip. Parking is very limited (1,350 cars) and it is rough getting away after game. Private parking lots on Coogan's Bluff, overlooking park, are easier. If you must go by car, use Harlem River Drive or Major Deegan Expressway when coming from suburbs and park a few subway stops away. From midtown, if you're afraid of getting lost, go straight up Eighth Avenue.