John D’Acquisto

December 11, 2006

From my remote vantage point as a daydreaming child collecting cards in Central Vermont, the San Francisco Giants of the mid-to-late 1970s were something more than a baseball team. They were also something less than a baseball team, in that they never seemed even remotely involved in the battle between the Reds and the Dodgers (and even, eventually, the Astros) for the N.L. West title. This lack of prominence lent them an air of mystery (if mystery can be sort of drab). They were like an old, obscure, slow-paced black-and-white television drama that comes on during a long rain delay between star-studded teams wrestling for a division crown. Disappointed by the rainout and by the plodding, gray replacement program, you switch around the dial for a while but then come back because beneath the tedious dialogue and uninspired staging and nondescript casting there is something weird going on that you can’t put your finger on, something that’s probably going to seep under your skin and cause you to end up staring at the ceiling at 3:00 in the morning.

Metaphors aside, I never actually saw the Giants on television. Even in the all-star game their presence was so meager that their yearly lone representative was no more noticeable than the half-second blip in the corner of the screen made by a white-shirted extra fleeing ruin in a disaster film. They were not so much a team to me as a state of being, or somehow a lack of a state of being. More specifically, they seemed to be comprised of guys who were not quite whole. They were all somewhat insubstantial guys who were also other somewhat insubstantial guys.

In the bullpen, lefthander Gary Lucas was also lefthander Gary Lavelle. In the outfield, Gary Maddox was also Gary Matthews, and then when Gary Maddox was traded to the Phillies, leaving the blurring haze of San Francisco to become a distinct personality, Gary Thomassen and Gary Alexander drifted in to fill, or rather to expand, the Garying San Francisco void. I confused Mike Ivie with Mike Lum (and also to a lesser extent Mike Vail), confused Steve Barr with Doug Bair, confused Dave Rader with Doug Rader, confused Mike Sadek with Ray Sadecki, and for reasons that I cannot explain thought of Von Joshua as the fourth Alou brother. In the coming years the fog of the mid-to-late ’70s Giants would also come to encompass blurrings of identities across the years, Bob Knepper merging into Bob Kipper, Tim Foli merging into Tom Foley, Ed Halicki merging into Mike Bielecki who then merged into Bob Milacki.

At the very center of the mystery was the man pictured here. I really can’t make many unequivocal statements about the shape-shifting mist of my childhood, but I do at least know that John D’Acquisto was John Montefusco, at least until he was traded to the Cardinals for Butch Metzger, who I then began confusing with Roger Metzger.

One comment

  1. 1.  9 comments from old CG site:

    Michael said…
    Brilliant, wonderful stuff.

    You should write a book.

    9:41 AM

    pm said…
    How thw heck could you confuse Mike Lum and Mike Vail?

    I know…cable television cam along and ruined everything.

    There are no more mysteries save our own desires.

    9:45 AM

    Anonymous said…
    I think you mean Jim Barr. Steve played for the Bosox.

    2:16 PM

    Josh Wilker said…
    anonymous: I see of course that you are right about which Barr actually played for the Giants. I think I was confusing him simultaneously with Steve Barr AND Steve Farr, proving that there’s really no end to the ability of the San Francisco Giants to baffle me. (I also think that it’s particularly fitting that this message was delivered to me from “anonymous.”) If I ever really tried to sort it all out once and for all I’d probably end up in a certain neighborhood of San Francisco with Fay Dunaway dead in my arms, a nasty cut on my nose courtesy of Roman Polanski, and Pete Millerman tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Forget it, Jake…it’s Chinatown.”

    3:56 PM

    Diz said…
    If you had seen the Giants on TV at that time, your confusion would have been heightened even more.

    The Giants’ TV announcer in the seventies was Gary Park, not to be confused with Chan Ho Maddox.

    3:59 PM

    Lincoln said…
    I enjoyed the piece as I also, very briefly, confused John D’Acquisto and John Montefusco when I was a child.

    However, for many Giants fans, the 1978 team was not anonymous at all. Even though they ended up in third place, that team is the all time favorite Giants team for many of us.

    5:05 AM

    Josh Wilker said…
    Lincoln: Thanks a lot for pointing out the ’78 squad. I wish I could say I was aware of them at the time, but my 10-year-old mind was obviously pretty vague regarding national league west.

    Looking at the ’78 roster, I realize that I made yet another error in the post. Actually a whole cluster of errors. I saw that Roger Metzger, not Butch Metzger, was a member of this squad, which made me revisit the transaction history of John D’Acquisto to see if he was traded for Roger Metzger instead of Butch Metzger, as I had claimed. Turns out he was at one time traded for one-time Giant Butch Metzger, but it was in a trade involving the Cardinals and the Padres. The trade that actually separated D’Acquisto and Montefusco involved Mike Caldwell, Dave Rader, Willie Crawford, Cardboard God favorite Vic Harris, and John Curtis. What Roger Metzger has to do with all of this is probably something that I’d have to go to Chinatown to find out.

    7:06 AM

    pete said…
    In my mind the John D’Acquisto/John Montefusco axis was somehow possessed of a kinship to former Met, Yank, and (most notably) Pirate pitcher John Candelaria during this same era.

    What distinguished Candelaria in my mind were his height, his having thrown a no-hitter (always a big deal when I was a kid), the ease at which he assimilated into the tokin’ and smokin’ shaggy-maned, afroed, Large-Assed clubhouse of the ’79 Pirates, and the somewhat frivolous honor bestowed upom him as the “swarthiest man ever to have played professional baseball.”

    7:19 PM

    GC said…
    I actually saw D’Acquisto’s ML debut, 2nd game of a DH vs Atl that the Giants swept. Marichal pitched the opener, D’Acquisto was the highly-touted rookie starting the nightcap. Of course with Aaron approaching 714 that was the biggest deal, he did line one foul but nothing close to an HR in the opener and sat the 2nd. Noted in retrospect that former Giant Dick Dietz and future Giants Dusty Baker and Darrell Evans were in Atlanta uniforms for both games.

    4:43 PM

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