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Looking Back On The O.G. Giants Era In Eugene

April 6, 2021

Founded in 1955, the Emeralds spent the first four years of its existence without a parent Major League club. That changed heading into the 1959 season when the Ems inked their first-ever affiliation with an MLB franchise. That franchise? The San Francisco Giants. On the heels of the Ems (re)aligning

Founded in 1955, the Emeralds spent the first four years of its existence without a parent Major League club. That changed heading into the 1959 season when the Ems inked their first-ever affiliation with an MLB franchise. That franchise? The San Francisco Giants.

On the heels of the Ems (re)aligning with the Giants for the next decade, take a quick look back at the original Giants era in the Emerald Valley.

The original partnership between Eugene and San Francisco lasted a mere four seasons (1959-62) with Eugene serving as San Francisco’s Class-B team. Since, the Emeralds have been aligned with nine different MLB organizations over the past five decades, including (briefly) the Giants again (kind of).

See the full list of Ems affiliate below:

  • Chicago White Sox (1963)
  • Philadelphia Phillies (1964-73)*
  • St. Louis Cardinals (1966)*
  • Cincinnati Reds (1975-83)
  • Kansas City Royals (1984-94)
  • Atlanta Braves (1995-98)
  • Chicago Cubs (1999-2000, 2015-20)
  • San Diego Padres (2001-14)

*The Ems operated as a split-squad Triple-A team for both the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals during the 1966 season.

You might notice looking at the timeline of past Ems affiliates that there's a notable gap in the year 1974. That season, the Ems operated as an independent/co-op team loosely affiliated with both the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.

Coincidentally, the Ems went on to win the Northwest League that year. Baseball is weird sometimes**.

**All of the time.

The 1974 Eugene Emeralds won the Northwest League title despite not having an official, singular MLB affiliation.

Playing at Bethel Park, more than a dozen future Major Leaguers played for the Ems during the 1959-62 Giants era, including two-time World Series champion Jesús Alou, José Cardenal (1,913 career hits), Bill Hands (career 111 wins), and José Tartabull.

Bethel Park (above) served as the home for the Emeralds until the team moved to Civic Stadium in 1969.

Former Oregon Duck Melvin Krause, who is memorialized with a bust on the first base side of PK Park, also suited up for the Ems during the same period.

The full list of future Major Leaguers that played for the Emeralds from 1959-62 includes:

Dámaso Blanco

MLB Career: 1972-74

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants

MLB Stats: 72 games | .212 AVG | 9 runs | 7 hits | 1 double | 2 RBI | 3 SB

Emeralds Stats (1962): 73 games | .279 AVG | 58 runs | 80 hits | 7 doubles | 2 triples | 1 HR | 25 RBI | 14 SB

Notes: At the ripe age of 30 years old - and in the midst of his 12th professional season - Blanco made his Major League debut on May 26, 1972 as a pinch runner in the 8th inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves. With Blanco's Giants trailing, 9-2, the speedster trotted to first base to replace Ed Goodson. At first base for the Braves was none other than Hall of Famer and former MLB home run king Henry 'Hank' Aaron who promptly greeted Blanco with three words: "Good luck, boy."

Blanco went on to appear in just 72 games in the majors before transitioning to a career as a radio and TV broadcaster for baseball games. Blanco spent three decades covering Major League Baseball and the Venezuelan Winter Leagues while also briefly working as a scout for the Cincinnati Reds.

Ron Herbel

MLB Career: 1963-71

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves

MLB Stats: 42-37 record | 331 APPs (79 starts) | 3.83 ERA | 894.1 IP | 447 K | 11 CG | 3 SHO

Emeralds Stats (1959): 5-13 record | 23 APPs (21 starts) | 4.30 ERA | 132.0 IP | 111 K | 3 CG | 1 SHO

Notes: Led the National League in pitching appearances in 1970 (76). Herbel notably surrendered the only grand slam of renown play-by-play man Bob Uecker's MLB career, one of just 14 home runs that the famed Brewer's broadcaster slugged as an MLB player. Herbel also has the unfortunate distinction of having the lowest career batting average in Major League history for a player with a minimum of 100 at-bats (.029).

Chuck Hiller

MLB Career: 1961-68

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates

MLB Stats: .243 AVG | 2,121 AB | 516 hits | 76 doubles | 9 triples | 20 HR | 152 RBI | 253 runs | 14 SB

Emeralds Stats (1959): 139 games | .341 AVG | 166 hits | 92 runs | 24 doubles | 9 triples | 13 HR | 77 RBI | 7 SB | .411 OB% | .918 OPS (Led 1959 Emeralds in hits, doubles, triples, HR, and RBI)

Notes: After spending two seasons in the Cleveland Indians' minor league system, Hiller was poached by the Giants in 1959 and almost immediately started paying dividends. After a successful first season with the Giants organization in Eugene, Hiller was awarded the Texas League Player of the Year for the Rio Grande Valley Giants in 1960 after batting .334 with 3 HR and 74 RBI.

Two years later, Hiller was suiting up for the Giants against the New York Yankees in the 1962 World Series. In the '62 Fall Classic, Hiller became the first National League player to ever belt a grand slam in a World Series game, helping the Giants tie the series at 2-2 in the process. However, the Yankees would go on to win the series in seven games to claim their twelfth title.

One year later, Hiller drove in the only run of Hall of Famer Juan Marichal's only career no-hitter, a 1-0 win for the Giants over the Houston Colt .45's on June 15, 1963.

Following his playing career, Hiller worked for the New York Mets under the team's director of player development, Whitey Herzog. He would later serve as an MLB coach for the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, and St. Louis Cardinals while also enjoying a long stint as the Mets' infield instructor for the organization's Minor League system.

Hiller won a World Series in 1982 as a member of the Cardinals' coaching staff.

As an Emerald, Hiller led the Northwest League in 1959 in hits, triples, fielding percentage, putouts, assists, and double plays.

Bobby Bolin

MLB Career: 1961-73

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee Brewers, Boston Red Sox

MLB Stats: 88-75 record | 195 APPs (164 starts) | 32 CG | 10 SHO | 50 saves | 3.40 ERA | 1,175 K | 1,576 IP

Emeralds Stats (1959): 20-8 record | 31 APPs (30 starts) | 2.84 ERA | 225.0 IP | 271 K | 23 CG | 9 SHO (Led 1959 Emeralds team in wins, ERA, starts, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, and strikeouts)

Notes: Bolin's first contract was with the Pittsburgh Pirates... but only briefly. Famed executive Branch Rickey, who was with the Pirates at the time, originally inked the right-hander to his first pro contract, only to have Commissioner Ford Frick deem the contract null and void due to the Pirates signing Bolin before September 10, the date when American Legion ballplayers (as Bolin was) were officially able to sign.

After spurning interest from former pitcher and Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez, who served as a scout for the New York Yankees at the time, Bolin was eventually signed by Giants scout Tim Murchison.

Bolin boasted the second-best ERA in the National League (NL) in 1968... trailing only Bob Gibson's record-setting mark of 1.12. The right-hander finished in the NL's top ten three times in ERA, WHIP, and hits batsmen. He appeared in two games in the 1962 World Series for the NL Champion San Francisco Giants, allowing 4 hits and 2 ER in 2.2 innings of work.

While with the Ems, Bolin was named a Northwest League All-Star in 1959 en route to leading the league in strikeouts (271). The 20-year old set the NWL record for most strikeouts in a single game with a whopping 22 K's against Salem on July 7, 1959 and also fired the first no-hitter in Emeralds history (vs. Lewiston on August 23, 1959).

Carl Boles

MLB Career: 1962

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants

MLB Stats: 19 games | 4 starts | 12 pinch hitting assignments | 3 games as a pinch runner.

Emeralds Stats (1959): 128 games | .308 AVG | 143 hits | 84 runs | 16 doubles | 8 triples | 9 HR | 40 RBI | 22 SB

Notes: Despite only enjoying a 'cup of coffee' at the Major League level, Boles had a heartier pro career than most, playing seven years in the minors and another six in Japan (Kintetsu Buffaloes and Nishitetsu Lions | 1966-71). His time in Japan included seasons with 26, 28 and 31 HRs. Boles was on the active roster for the San Francisco Giants in 1962 when the team clinched the organization's first pennant since moving from New York.

Boles, a native of Arkansas, originally attended the University of Nebraska on a football scholarship before joining the Navy, then attending the University of Arkansas - Pine Bluff on a basketball scholarship... and then transitioned to baseball.

John Orsino

MLB Career: 1961-67

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators

MLB Stats: 332 games | .249 AVG | 252 hits | 114 runs | 40 HR | 123 RBI

Emeralds Stats (1959): 98 games | .271 AVG | 93 hits | 44 runs | 21 doubles | 4 triples | 8 HR | 55 RBI

Notes: Orsino played a pivotal part in a rare matchup of dueling one-hitters on September 12, 1964. Playing as the Orioles starting catcher, Orsino bagged the only hit of the game, a double to lead off the 8th inning against the Kansas City Athletics. Teammate Bob Saverine then pinch ran for Orsino and soon came around to score the only run of the ballgame after a sac bunt and a sac fly, giving the O's a 1-0 victory despite only two hits combined between the two teams.

After his playing career, Orsino went on to coach the Fairleigh Dickinson University baseball and golf teams.

Jesús Alou

MLB Career: 1963-75, 1978-79

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, New York Mets, Houston Astros

MLB Stats: 1,380 games | .280 AVG | 448 runs | 1,216 hits | 170 doubles | 26 triples | 32 HR | 377 RBI

Emeralds Stats (2 seasons):

  • 1960: 6 games | .350 AVG | 20 ABs | 7 hits | 1 triple
  • 1961: 138 games | .336 AVG | 82 runs | 174 hits | 31 doubles | 5 triples | 10 HR | 71 RBI | 16 SB (Led 1961 Emeralds in AVG, hits, runs, doubles, HR, RBI and stolen bases)

Notes: A two-time World Series Champion (Oakland Athletics | 1973 & 1974), Jesús is the youngest of the Alou brothers (Felipe and Matty), perhaps the most famous family in the game of baseball. Together, the three formed the first, and as of today only, all-brother outfield in a game on September 15, 1963. Jesús and his brothers helped lead the way as part of the first big wave of Dominican-born players to enter in the the Major League ranks.

The Alou brothers pose together to commemorate being the first-ever all-brother outfield in Major League Baseball.

Despite being the youngest of the three Alou brothers, Jesús was considered to be perhaps the most talented of the bunch, and he eventually made his MLB debut on the September 10, 1963 in a game which coincidentally saw all three Alou brothers take at-bats in the same inning (they were retired in order).

Following his playing days, Alou served as a scout for the Montreal Expos before later working as the director of Dominican operations for the Florida Marlins. In 2002, Alou accepted the same role with the Boston Red Sox, a position he still holds to this day.

Wayne Schurr

MLB Career: 1964

MLB Teams: Chicago Cubs

MLB Stats: 26 APPs | 0-0 record | 3.72 ERA | 38.1 IP | 29 K

Emeralds Stats (1960): 13-11 record | 25 APPs (25 starts) | 3.18 ERA | 181.0 IP | 120 K | 16 CG | 2 SHO

Notes: Schurr led the 1960 Ems in both wins and ERA during the 1960 season. His time in the major leagues was brief, spending just one season with the Chicago Cubs in 1964. After spending the ensuing three seasons all at Triple-A (Salt Lake City and Tacoma), Schurr retired from pro ball.

José Tartabull

MLB Career: 1962-70

MLB Teams: Kansas City Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics

MLB Stats: 749 games | .261 BA | 2 HR | 107 RBI | 247 runs | .986 FLD%

Emeralds Stats (1960): 138 games | .344 AVG | 104 runs | 178 hits | 20 doubles | 15 triples | 6 HR | 52 RBI | 24 SB | 56 BB (Led 1960 Emeralds in runs, hits, and triples)

Notes: José's son, Danny Tartabull, was a Major Leaguer with the Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, and New York Yankees. Tartabull’s throw home to retire Ken Berry and for the final out in a victory over the Chicago White Sox on August 27, 1967 is the subject of a novel titled Tartabull’s Throw written by Henry Garfield. Tartabull and the Red Sox went on to win the pennant by just one game that season.

Tartabull, a Northwest League All-Star in 1960, led the league in hits and triples.

Bob Barton

MLB Career: 1965-74

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres

MLB Stats: 393 games | .226 AVG | 54 runs | 237 hits | 31 doubles | 3 triples | 9 HR | 66 RBI

Emeralds Stats (1961): 124 games | .291 AVG | 48 runs | 112 hits | 21 doubles | 6 triples | 3 HR | 56 RBI | 59 BB (Led 1961 Emeralds in walks)

Notes: Primarily a backup catcher throughout his MLB career, Barton played behind Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench while with the Reds. The 1971 season was a career year for Barton who played 121 games while leading the National League in runners caught stealing (42) and percentage of runners caught stealing (51.2%) while finishing second in assists (67).

A standout baseball and basketball player during his high school days in Covington, Kentucky, Barton pursued baseball despite receiving a basketball scholarship from the University of Kentucky, one of the NCAA's preeminent programs.

José Cardenal

MLB Career: 1963-80

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles/California Angels, Cleveland Indians. St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets

MLB Stats: 2,017 games | .275 BA | 936 runs | 1,913 hits | 333 doubles | 46 triples | 138 HR | 775 RBI | 329 stolen bases | 608 BB

Emeralds Stats (1961): 9 games | .280 AVG | 25 ABs | 7 hits | 1 double (Cardenal was only 17 years old during his brief stint with the Emeralds in 1961)

Notes: A renown base stealer, Cardenal finished second in the American League in stolen bases in 1965 (37) while also leading the Cleveland Indians twice, including a career-high 40 in the 1968 season. During the '68 season, Cardenal tied the MLB record for outfielders with not one but two unassisted double plays. He was named the Cubs Player of the Year in 1973 after leading the team in batting average (.303), doubles (33) and stolen bases (19).

Known for his mercurial nature, Cardenal famously once refused to play the season opener in 1974 after claiming he was injured due to the eyelids in one of his eyes being 'stuck' open. Following his playing career, Cardenal went on to coach for the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, most notably serving as the first base coach for the Yankee's during the team's run of championships during the late 1990s (1996, 1998, 1999).

Cardenal was among a number of former Cubs players that were invited to the White House following the team winning the 2016 World Series (pictured below, right / photo via Indy Star), eliciting a comment from then-First Lady Michelle Obama who, a Chicago native herself, exclaimed that she used to wear Cubs hat on top of her afro just like Cardenal famously did during his playing days.

Dick Estelle

MLB Career: 1964-65

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants

MLB Stats: 1-2 record | 3.23 ERA | 29 K

Emeralds Stats (2 seasons):

  • 1961: 1-1 record | 11 APPs (3 starts) | 6.00 ERA | 24.0 IP | 18 K
  • 1962: 14-14 record | 40 APPs (27 starts) | 4.14 ERA | 187.0 IP | 206 K | 12 CG | 3 SHO (Led 1962 Emeralds in appearances)

Notes: Estelle fired one of two no-hitters thrown by Emeralds pitchers during the 1962 season, shutting out Salem on July 31, 1962. The 1962 season was the only season in Ems history that saw two separate no-no's thrown by Emeralds pitchers.

Bill Hands

MLB Career: 1965-75

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers

MLB Stats: 111-110 record | 3.35 ERA | 1,128 K

Emeralds Stats (1961): 6-7 record | 18 APPs (16 starts) | 4.64 ERA | 95.0 IP | 87 K | 3 CG | 1 SHO

Notes: Hands was notably a part of one of the most significant trades in Chicago Cubs history when he was acquired from the San Francisco Giants along with catcher Randy Hundley in what was the first move under then-manager Leo Durocher.

A 20-game winner in 1969, Hands played an integral part in the team's magical run during the '69 season which saw Chicago hold first place in the NL East for a majority of the season before being overtaken late by the New York Mets who later won the World Series that season while earning the moniker 'Miracle Mets' in the process.

Hands passed away in March of 2017 but was still able to see the Cubs snap their World Series drought and win a title in 2016. "He was ecstatic about that, that's for sure," said Hands' longtime golfing partner Bill Fish to The Suffolk Times. "He stuck around long enough to see it. We were all happy about that."

Cap Peterson

MLB Career: 1962-69

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians

MLB Stats: 536 games | .230 AVG | 106 runs | 269 hits | 44 doubles | 5 triples | 19 HR | 122 RBI

Emeralds Stats (1961): 24 games | .266 AVG | 11 runs | 21 hits | 4 doubles | 1 triple | 5 RBI

Notes: A Northwest native (Tacoma, Washington), Peterson went by the nickname 'Cap' stemming from the initials of his full name, Charles Andrew Peterson. The right-handed hitting outfielder was once traded from the Giants to the Senators in 1966 in a multi-player transaction that sent future 1967 NL Cy Young Award winner Mike McCormick to the Giants.

Dick Dietz

MLB Career: 1966-73

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves

MLB Stats: 646 games | .261 AVG | 226 runs | 478 hits | 89 doubles | 6 triples | 66 HR | 301 RBI | 381 BB | .390 OB%

Emeralds Stats (1962): 118 games | .292 AVG | 49 runs | 99 hits | 15 doubles | 3 triples | 14 HR | 68 RBI | 66 BB | .408 OB% (Led 1962 Emeralds in HR)

Notes: Dietz enjoyed a shorter MLB career than perhaps he should have, but nonetheless still crammed a hearty amount of success and noteworthy moments into seven seasons at the Major League level. Dietz was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team in his first MLB season in 1967 and later was selected as an All-Star in 1970. In that 1970 All-Star Game, Dietz replaced Johnny Bench in the 7th inning and went on to lead off the bottom of the 9th with a solo homer off of Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter.

Dietz's dinger helped spark a rally that saw the National League tie the game to force extras, setting up one of the most memorable and controversial moments in All-Star Game history when Pete Rose barreled over AL catcher Ray Fosse to win the game in the 12th inning. Dietz, notably, was in the on-deck circle during that famous collision and was the first to congratulate Rose. That wasn't Dietz's only involvement in a majorly controversial MLB moment, though.

Two years prior during the 1968 season, Dietz and the Giants were facing Don Drysdale and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Drysdale, who was in the midst of a scoreless innings streak, loaded the bases with no outs and Dietz at the plate. With Drysdale's streak in serious jeopardy, Dietz was plunked by a pitch from the eventual Hall of Famer, seemingly scoring a run and snapping the scoreless innings streak.

However, the home plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt (five-time World Series umpire and father to current MLB umpire Hunter Wendelstedt) cited a rule that is rarely enforced stating that Dietz made no effort to avoid being hit by the pitch and that therefore the at-bat must continue with Dietz at the plate. Drysdale went on to retire Dietz as well as the next two batters to get out of the jam and keep his scoreless innings streak intact, a streak that eventually reached a record 58.2 innings.

Following his playing career, Dietz enjoyed a brief spell as a Minor League manager, serving as the bench boss for the San Jose Giants (1993-94), Sioux Falls Canaries (1995) and Sonoma County Crushers (1996-99). Dietz is a member of the Giants Wall of Fame.

Frank Linzy

MLB Career: 1963, 1965-74 (Giants, Cardinals, Brewers, Phillies)

MLB Teams: San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Stats: 62-57 record | 516 APPs (2 starts) | 2.85 ERA | 817.1 IP | 358 K | 110 saves

Emeralds Stats (1962): 10-8 record | 26 APPs (16 starts) | 3.63 ERA | 119.0 IP | 72 K | 9 CG | 8 SHO

Notes: Linzy broke onto the scene in a big way in his first full season in the 'bigs, finishing 13th in NL MVP voting and third in Rookie of the Year voting after going 9-3 over 57 games with a 1.43 ERA, 21 saves and 40 total games finished.

Despite appearing in more than 500 games during his career, the right-handed Oklahoman only started two games during his decade in the Major Leagues, often used as a 'fireman' out of the bullpen when the team was in a tight game and needing to get out of a jam.

A standout basketball player in high school, Linzy originally attended Oklahoma State on a basketball scholarship before later transferring to Northeastern State and beginning a rather successful pivot to baseball.