For years, the honor of having one’s number retired by the Giants was reserved for those who were first elected into the Hall of Fame.
After the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958, Orlando Cepeda (30), Juan Marichal (27), Willie Mays (24), Willie McCovey (44), and Gaylord Perry (36) eventually joined Bill Terry (3), Mell Ott (4), Carl Hubbell (11), and Monte Irvin (20) from the organization’s days in New York as the nine numbers retired by the Giants.
Even before players had numbers on their jerseys, the Giants honored Christy Mathewson and manager John McGraw for their accomplishments during the early days of the franchise.
Each one is a hall of famer and that’s the way it’s always been.
The Giants decided to throw tradition out the window on Tuesday morning when they announced their plan to retire No. 25; the number worn by Barry Bonds, who has yet to reach the Hall of Fame.
Despite all Bonds accomplished during his 22-year career — seven-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, two batting titles, and the all-time and single-season home run records — his steroid allegations have led many writers in the BBWAA to hold back their votes. After six years on the ballot, Bonds is still short of the Hall of Fame, and there’s no guarantee that his name will be immortalized in Cooperstown.
Now that the Giants have shown they’re willing to bend the rules, who’s to say it couldn’t happen again?
Bound for the Hall of Fame or not, here are six beloved Giants, both active and retired, with a legitimate shot at getting their numbers retired.
Bruce Bochy (15)
It’s hard, nearly impossible, to argue against manager Bruce Bochy’s case for the Hall of Fame. After winning more games than any other San Diego Padres manager from 1995-2006, Bochy joined the Giants in 2007 and has won three World Series championships.
Although it would take another 20 years of managing for Bochy to come close to McGraw, who won 2582 games in 31 years managing the Giants from 1902-1932, he’s still the second all-time winningest manager in franchise history with 902 wins.
Whether it’s his World Series titles, or his number of victories with both the Padres and Giants, Bochy is bound for Cooperstown, and it’s not hard to imagine the Giants will honor Bochy in the same way they did McGraw once his managing days are done.
Buster Posey (28)
Buster Posey is another prime example of a Giant that’s bound for Cooperstown.
In his nine years with the Giants, Posey has put together a phenomenal resume with three World Series championships, a 2010 Rookie of the Year award, and 2012 MVP honors.
Even when it looks as if his career was headed south after a collision at home plate in 2011 cut his sophomore season short, Posey returned better than ever and received the 2012 NL Comeback Player of the Year award.
Posey’s .308 career batting average, 128 home runs, and standout abilities behind the plate only cement his case for the Hall of Fame. More than likely, he’ll one day see No. 28 immortalized in not only Cooperstown, but AT&T Park as well.
Madison Bumgarner (40)
Three World Series have come and gone, but there’s not a Giants fan who will soon forget how Madison Bumgarner capped their team’s trio of championships in 2014. Starting in 2010, when he blanked the Texas Rangers in Game 4 as a 20-year-old, Bumgarner went on to put up a 0.25 ERA over 36 innings pitched in the World Series.
That’s the lowest ERA the World Series has ever seen from a starting pitcher, and Bumgarner is the only pitcher to receive two wins and a save in the same championship series.
Even when he’s not on the playoff mound, Bumgarner has been the model of consistency for the Giants, averaging 32 starts and 16 wins from 2011-2016. Aside from last season, when his now infamous dirt biking accident deterred his 2017 campaign, Bumgarner was an All-Star every year since 2013 and has finished in the top 10 for the Cy Young Award four times.
Oh, and he can hit.
Yet, his career has been drastically under-rewarded, and that could detract from his Hall of Fame case. Setting aside his postseason accolades, Bumgarner doesn’t have any 20-win seasons and has never finished higher than fourth for the Cy Young Award.
There’s still time for Bumgarner to receive his due recognition, but it will be his postseason dominance that could earn him a spot in Cooperstown, and a place among the other retired numbers at AT&T Park.
Matt Cain (18)
If throwing the only perfect game in franchise history isn’t enough to have your number retired, then I don’t know what is. That’s what Matt Cain did and what he meant to the Giants was clearly seen in the moments after his final start.
The Last Pitch of Matt Cain's Career pic.twitter.com/qowsaZsOOr
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) September 30, 2017
On June 13, 2012 Cain took the mound against the Houston Astros and with the help of 14 strikeouts and several key defensive plays, sat down each one in order.
Nonetheless, similar to Crawford, the numbers Cain finished his career with don’t make him a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
Other than 2012 when he won 16 games, Cain won no more than 14 games in a single season and had seven years with a losing record, five of which came during the final years of his career.
Even though Cain likely won’t receive a plaque in Cooperstown, his No. 18 is worthy of being retired by the Giants.
Tim Lincecum (55)
Over the span of a relatively short career, Tim Lincecum earned the love of Giants fans with his unique personality and impressive accomplishments.
After only one year in the major leagues, Lincecum pitched well enough to receive back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009. Over those two years, Lincecum pitched no fewer than 225 innings, won 18 games in 2008, and posted a career-low 2.48 ERA in 2009.
Once his Cy Young Award-winning seasons were well behind him, Lincecum continued to leave his mark with a pair of no-hitters in consecutive seasons. After no-hitting the Padres in 2013, The Freak turned around and held them hitless again in 2014.
Nonetheless, the longevity Lincecum’s career lacked might keep him from the Hall of Fame.
Although he was a two-time Cy Young Award-winner, threw a pair of no-hitters, and was a part of San Francisco’s three World Series championships, having pitched only a decade in the major leagues could be the deterring factor that keeps him from Cooperstown, but not from having his number retired by the Giants sometime down the road.
Brandon Crawford (35)
Nowadays, it’s rare to see a player play their entire career with one team. It’s even rarer to have a player spend their entire career with the team he grew up rooting for and so far, that’s been the case for Brandon Crawford.
Growing up in Pleasanton, California, Crawford was drafted by the Giants out of UCLA in fourth round of the 2008 MLB Draft. Since debuting in 2011, he’s dazzled his hometown fans with remarkable defense and has been a mainstay at shortstop over the last seven years.
Although Crawford holds a special place in the heart of every Giants fan, his numbers don’t scream that of a Hall of Fame-caliber player.
Crawford has never batted higher than .275 in his career, and with only one All-Star nomination and two Gold Gloves, making it very unlikely he’ll receive a plaque in Cooperstown.
However, his ties to the Bay Area and love from the fan base makes Crawford a possible non-hall of famer to have his number retired by the Giants, especially if he ends up spending his entire career in their uniform.