Author Talk: Chris Haft

MM: Did you grow up a San Francisco Giants fan?
CH: Incorrigible. Though as I mention in the book’s introduction, pro football was my first love. But all it took was one Giants game at Candlestick Park to convert me. The first game I attended had five future Hall of Famers in the lineup: Willie Mays and Willie McCovey for the Giants and Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski for the Pittsburgh Pirates. How many kids today can say that?

MM: What do you think makes this team so special?
The collegial feeling of “once you’re a Giant, you’re always a Giant” is something that really exists. It’s almost tangible. Mays’ enduring presence as the franchise patriarch has a lot to do with maintaining this feeling. This past spring training, I watched Joe Amalfitano and Felipe Alou flank Mays at a table in the clubhouse as they chatted together, and I swear Joey and Felipe looked like little kids. With more than 50 years since they played together, Willie still had that effect on them. Club management does an excellent job of nurturing the relationship between alumni players and the team by honoring them in various ways. Also, the organization’s remarkable stability helps everybody feel rooted.

MM: Who are your top three favorite players of all time and why?
My three favorite superstar players are Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal. They showed me the grandeur and grace of baseball — Mays was regal, McCovey was quietly ferocious and Marichal was elegant. Nonsuperstar division, my favorites are Ken Henderson, Chris Speier and Bobby Bonds. Henderson was the nicest person to the fans I’ve ever seen; Speier had my first name and his own élan at shortstop; and Bonds could simply do it all. If Bonds belongs in the superstar category, we can add in “the Count,” John Montefusco. He was so colorful and almost all we had to root for in the mid-1970s.