East Coast roots bloom into West Coast champs
After cutting teeth with Yankees, numerous Giants celebrate
ARLINGTON -- The World Series victory by the Giants on Monday night at Rangers Ballpark didn't fall far from the Yankees family tree.Starting with general manager Brian Sabean, the Giants' front office, coaching staff and scouting department are chock-full of former Yankees, many of whom won their first World Series rings when San Francisco buried Texas in five games with a 3-1 victory. "Some of it was happenstance and some of it was by design," said Sabean, who was director of scouting and vice president of player development during his Yankees tenure from 1986-92. "When you have somebody coming from the Yankees, you know you're going to get somebody who knows how to work and keeps a low profile. "He also respects the game. If you're good to the game, the game is going to be good to you. We're proud to have guys like that in the organization."
Aside from Sabean in the front office, there's Dick Tidrow, who's now the club's vice president of player personnel, and J.T. Snow, a special assistant who was drafted by the Yankees in 1992 and had a successful playing career, spending nine years at first base for the Giants. Joe Lefebvre and Steve Balboni are scouts. Henry Cotto is the Minor League baserunning coordinator. And Dave Righetti, Hensley Meulens and Roberto Kelly are on the Major League coaching staff."Finding people you trust and are comfortable working with is a big part of this whole thing," Tidrow said in the bedlam of the victorious clubhouse. "Brian understood the kind of people we were and the level of work he was going to get out of us." Only Tidrow, a relief pitcher nicknamed "Dirt," won the World Series with the Yankees when they defeated the Dodgers in both 1977 and '78. The rest of the group cut their teeth during the longest World Series-winning drought in Yankees history: 1979-1995. "It's amazing," said Kelly, finishing his third season as the Giants' first-base coach. "We all grew up in the Yankees organization. We learned to play hard and do things the right way. Obviously they have a great tradition and we tried to bring that over here." Kelly played center field for the Yankees from 1987-92 and was traded to the Reds for right fielder Paul O'Neill, a major cog in the four championships New York won in five years from 1996-2000. Righetti pitched for the Yankees from 1979-90. And though the All-Star left-hander missed all the glory years, he threw a no-hitter while wearing pinstripes. He later was a top-flight closer for the Giants and has been their pitching coach through three managers, just finishing his 11th season in the job. Meulens, in his first year as the Giants' hitting coach, was up and down with the Yankees as mostly an outfielder from 1989-93. But he certainly absorbed what he could from the atmosphere. "I don't want to take anything away from these guys here," Meulens said. "The Giants are a great organization and you don't want to lose track of that. But we all grew up on the East Coast and it instilled winning, winning, winning into all of us. Today we won the championship out west, but I thank the people who taught me how to win. "It was a great time, but this is better. We never won there, but now we've won here." Sabean left the Yankees and became the Giants' general manager at the end of the 1996 season. Trying to build the team around Barry Bonds, Sabean took San Francisco into the playoffs during that era in 1997, 2000, '02 and '03, losing the '02 World Series to the Angels in seven games. He also constructed his staff and rebuilt a farm system that produced the starting pitchers who dominated the Rangers -- Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, all three having been drafted in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft. "The easy thing was drafting them," Sabean said. "The hard thing was keeping them." Sabean rejected the trade overtures of other clubs. He had the knowledge from his Yankees past and that was the key to the Giants present. Finally, winning after all these years, he said he felt "numb" on Monday night. "It's very emotional, because there are some people -- like Pat Dobson -- who contributed along the way who are no longer with us," Sabean said. "These are the guys who put us on the map nationally. Now we've buried those bones of missed World Series opportunities in 1962, '89 and '02. We've buried the hatchet, so to speak." Dobson, the pitcher known as "The Dobber," played for the Yankees, too, long before Sabean worked there, and was the Giants' advanced scout before passing away in 2006. From Sabean on down, he's just another Giants member of that eternal Yankees family tree.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.