If you live in San Francisco, you definitely have heard of Hunter Pence as a notable sports figure. What Hunter Pence did for the Giants in his eight combined years was more than just bringing in titles. He brought smiles, laugher, and an overall laid-back feeling for the city. His spirits and positivity were so infectious that even if you weren’t a fan of baseball, you were a fan of Hunter Pence, and you were a fan of the Giants. From World Series pep talks to scootering to the ballpark before home games, he delivered not just hits but joy among baseball fans. Sadly, things always have to come to an end. Fans didn’t want to see it happen this way, but Hunter Pence chose to retire from baseball after being designated for assignment by the Giants in August 2020. Although now retired, Giants fans will always remember his vibrant personality and all the joy he brought to San Francisco.
Where It All Started
Pence’s career started in 2007 with the Houston Astros. He stayed with the team until 2011 until the Astros traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies. He remained with the team for almost a year until he got traded again, this time, to San Francisco. At the time, The Giants performed well and ended the season with a 94-68 record, winning the National League West. Hunter Pence was also performing well. He finished fourth in the NL in batting average and eighth in RBI’s during his time with the Phillies. Pence also reached two all-star games with both the Phillies and Astros and then made his playoffs debut with Philidephia, although they lost the NLDS title to the eventual St. Louis Cardinals. Things only got better from here for Hunter Pence.
Pence Is Headed to The Bay Area
Pence was traded to the Giants in 2012. Already having won a World Series in 2010, the Giants retained that same momentum during this season. They were already having a magical year with pitcher Matt Cain throwing a perfect game in June, Melky Cabrera, Matt Cain, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval all got named to the 2012 All-Star game with Cabrera winning MVP, and Madison Bumgardner was becoming an all-around ace after hitting his first major league home run in June and then becoming the leadoff starting pitcher. Pence, on the other hand, was struggling with only a .219 batting average that season. Although he wasn’t a stand out performer for the team, he delivered in other ways. The Giants were down 0-2 and were on the brink of elimination when the new guy, Pence, decided to deliver a motivational speech to his new teammates before game 3. His passionate speech was so moving that even third base coach Tim Flannery was moved. “For me, an old coach, it moved me like I have never been moved before,” Flannery said on his Facebook page. “Purity, real, passion, soul. The last of the holdouts this Pence..no arrows being shot, no hey look at me, no spotlight on me, no dance but “play for each other” The Giants would then come back to win three straight against the Reds, and Pence would win his first World Series ring that year.
Pence continued to see success with the team for years to come. In 2013, he made a diving catch to preserve Pitcher Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. That same year he also signed a 5-year extension with Giants to keep him in San Fransisco until 2018. In 2014, he was elected to his third all-star, his first with the Giants. Later in the year, his performance in the playoffs helped the Giants win the World Series for the third time in five years. Against their World Series opponents, the Kansas City Royals, Pence had a .444 batting average with 5 RBIs and 7 runs scored. In the next couple of seasons, injures got in the way of Pence’s impeccable performance. From a fractured left forearm to hamstring issues, he couldn’t catch a break and saw himself on the disabled list a handful of times. Despite these injures, Pence delivered as much as possible and still maintained a .258 batting average between the 2016-2018 seasons. As his contract ended in 2018, his performance and .226 batting average that season didn’t impress the Giants, and the team didn’t express any interest in resigning him. His career with the Giants was made.
And it’s Off to Texas
Pence signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers in February 2019 and excelled with his new team. He made the opening day roster and went on to appear in his fourth all-star game. Pence finished the 2019 season posting a .297/.358/.552/.910 slash line with 18 home runs and 59 RBIs over 286 at-bats in 83 games. Exactly one year after signing with the Rangers, he once again signed back with the Giants, this time on a one year deal. His disastrous start worried the Giants, and in August 2020, he was designated for assignment.
The End of an Era
Pence tweeted an emotional video where he formally announces his retirement from baseball.“I love to play baseball, and I cherished every day. Every teammate, every victory and every defeat, along with the lessons that came with them. Nothing can really prepare you for this part of your career when you have to say, ‘I am retiring from baseball,’ ” Pence says. “I’m looking forward to being a Giants fan now. …know that my heart will always be in San Francisco.” The video highlights some of his time with all the teams he’s been apart of but mostly highlighted his time with the Giants. Even towards the end of the video, he says, “I’m looking forward to being a Giants fan.” It’s this part that really emphasizes how special his time in San Francisco was. He even showed up to a Giants game at McCovey Cove the day after his retirement showing off his love for the team.
The Best Teammate and Friend
Not only was he loved by fans, but he was a hit in the clubhouse too. One teammate he became very close to was Pablo Sandoval. The two only played together for 3 years before Sandoval headed to Boston on a 5-year deal in 2015. Still, these two managed to create a close bond with one another and shared some great laughs along the way. Although playing for two different teams, this didn’t stop the friends from sharing special moments. In 2019, Pence stood by Pablo Sandoval’s side as he married his wife, Yuli. Just a couple of months later, the two would reunite in San Francisco to play baseball together once again. “I’m blessed,” Sandoval said. “To have that guy, he was the best man in my wedding and now to have him on the same team with me, my wish came true. To play one more time with him.”
So what does the future look like for Hunter Pence? Well, there’s definitely plenty to look forward to. He’s been married to his wife Alexis since 2016, and they both run a project together called Pineapple Labs. On the website, they offer an assortment of coffee and mugs to which all proceeds go to No Kid Hungry, an organization that helps hungry children. Not only that, but Pence also appeared on an episode of Fuller House in 2016. With more time on his hands now, maybe more acting could be in the picture? Whatever Hunter Pence does, one thing is for sure. He will continue to cheer on his brothers and the San Fransico Giants for years to come.