The team that today is known as the San Francisco Giants is the winningest franchise in professional baseball, with more victories than any other, including the New York Yankees. Though not the oldest team in baseball (that distinction goes to the forebears of the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs, both of which got their start in 1876), the Giants, who played their first two seasons as the Gothams, have been at it since 1883.
Over the years, the New York Giants (1885-1957) and San Francisco Giants (1958-present) have sent plenty of players to the Hall of Fame, from pitcher Christy Mathewson (along with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, he was one of the Hall’s original five inductees in 1936) to Willie Mays (inducted in 1979). Other stars whose baseball cards and other memorabilia are quite collectible include Mel Ott, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, and Juan Marichal.
In addition to autographed baseballs and gloves, Giants fans also look for programs from the club’s 14 World Series appearances in New York and four in San Francisco. Also of interest are pennants, photos, and other ephemera from the team's many parks, which have included the Polo Grounds in New York (all four versions) as well as Seals Stadium (1958-1959), Candlestick Park (1960-1999), and AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Particularly prized, though not especially expensive, are Croix de Candlestick pins, which were given to fans loyal enough to tough it out to the end of an extra-innings night game at Candlestick Park, which can be one of the coldest and windiest spots in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Another even more chilling memento is one of the small pieces of concrete that rained down on some fans just prior to the opening pitch of game three of the 1989 World Series. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake had triggered the stone shower, and the game was postponed for 10 days as the region mourned the victims of the tragedy and struggled to rebuild. The Giants eventually lost that contest to the Oakland A’s, 4-0.