Big Apple hosting Giants' championship tour

Big Apple hosting Giants' championship tour

Big Apple hosting Giants' championship tour
NEW YORK -- The World Series trophy has spent plenty of time in New York over the past few years, but this weekend it will be in the Big Apple celebrating a West Coast team's success in the Fall Classic.

The Giants, who moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958, are feting their first championship since moving to the other coast, but they haven't forgotten their roots back East. In that spirit, they are bringing the trophy to the Gotham to provide fans of the old New York Giants a unique chance to celebrate alongside San Francisco fans.

For the Giants, bringing the trophy back to New York, an idea first proposed by general manager Brian Sabean, was an easy choice.

"We truly still have a real connection back to New York," Giants senior vice president of communications Staci Slaughter said. "Our tradition is a big part of our organization. ... I think for us, it just seemed like a very natural thing for us to do."

A large-scale victory tour with the trophy isn't unusual, as teams have celebrated with trips to other cities -- and even other countries -- in recent years. After winning the Commissioner's Trophy last year, the Yankees took it on a six-day tour of Asia to help raise global awareness of the game. The Phillies, after winning in 2008, traveled more than 10,000 miles with the trophy, with the usual stops at their Minor League affiliates, Spring Training and the White House.

But this trip to New York, a city that now also has two other proud Major League franchises, breaks the mold in more than one way.

That's partly because it's not just the trophy that will be in New York to celebrate the Giants' success; Hall of Famer Willie Mays will be on hand Friday at P.S. 46, located near the site of the old Polo Grounds, to showcase the trophy and share stories of "The Catch" and "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" with a new generation of fans.

Having Mays, a star for the Giants on both coasts, on-hand to celebrate was a no-brainer for the Giants.

"As we were planning the New York trip, everyone said, 'He has to be there,'" Slaughter recounted. "He was really excited and really loved the idea. He's amazing with kids."

The idea had originally been for old No. 24 to lead the kids in a stick ball game, to recreate the old baseball spirit in the neighborhood, but New York's chilly January temps nixed those plans. Instead, Mays, who lived in the neighborhood during his playing career, will talk to the middle-schoolers about the history of Giants, their local roots and their iconic place in baseball lore.

On Saturday, the celebration continues as the trophy will be on display for fans at two different locales in New York. In the morning, the trophy will be at the Hilton in Midtown, followed by an afternoon visit to Finnerty's Bar, a San Francisco-oriented sports bar.

"It's really become the San Francisco Giants headquarters in New York," Slaughter said. "I think it's a lot of folks who grew up out here and moved east. I think it really started as a 49ers bar. When we went to the playoffs, people just started coming out to watch there."

One way or another, the Giants certainly put a charge into their fan base on the East Coast during their run to a World Series title last fall. Fans of the old New York Giants came out of the woodwork, reinforcing the team's ties to their former base.

"It really struck home for us the first couple days and weeks after the parade," Slaughter said. "The letters that came pouring in from fans all over the East Coast. They had stories about their fathers who saw their first baseball game and became a baseball fan at the Polo Grounds. ... To have that connection ... is a really big part of the organization as a whole, we've got such a rich history."

It's a history so intrinsically tied to New York, that the Giants felt it wrong to exclude the fans who followed them even after the move. Even if that meant doing what few teams have done before, celebrating on another big league team's turf. Not to worry, both local clubs were on board with the Giants showing off their championship hardware around the city, according to Slaughter.

Lead by several New York Giants' fan clubs, the response so far has reaffirmed the Giants' decision to visit their former hometown.

"The response we've been getting is like 'Of course you would come to New York as part of that trip,'" Slaughter said. "It is really still part of the organization. This is the first World Series that we've won since winning in New York in 1954."

The city has certainly changed since 1958, but the presence of the Giants' faithful remains.

"Everyone we've talked to, it's almost like going to a small town -- they've spread the word," Slaughter said. "I think because there's a small but loud fan group back there, they are still Giants fans after all these years."

For those fans, the Giants are headed home with a big prize in tow.

Bailey Stephens is a reporter for Follow her on Twitter at BStephens27. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.