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A baseball obsession and a Giants' success story unfold in a new book by local writer

 

By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

Menlo School and Stanford grad Chris Haft grew up a fan of the San Francisco Giants. He took his obsession one step further and became a sportswriter.

Haft can add 'author' to his resume when his book, "This is Our Time," (Confluence Books, $16.95) hits the stores Aug. 9.

Haft has covered the Giants for MLB.com the past four years, and has been a baseball beat writer for nearly 30 years.

Haft has been around professional baseball players all his life. Former Major Leaguer Kevin Bass was his teammate with the Knights and he played against Menlo-Atherton grad Bob Melvin, now the Oakland Athletics' manager.

Haft credits Bass for helping him develop an acute sense of what it takes to become a professional. Watching Melvin play was another valuable lesson.

"It was obvious to me they were the top two athletes in the area," Haft said after a recent Giants' game. "I grew up watching Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Perry. With Kevin and Bob it was more osmosis; it was how they went about preparing."

Haft was there when the Giants won the fifth game of the World Series last year in Arlington, Texas. The journey seemed so incredible, Haft immediately thought of a book.

"I was in touch with (co-author) Eric Alan after the season and I told him it was such a great season, it would be neat to write a book about it from different perspectives," Haft said. "We wanted to focus on the team chemistry and our styles meshed well. I was the baseball guy and he's the Zen spiritualist."

Alan is a friend of Giants' third base coach Tim Flannery. They work together on Flannery's musical career. The Giants' coach is also a folksinger.

"Since I was a conduit for the fans, we go over familiar territory, but we try to get under it at different levels," Haft said. "There's the last day of the season when they clinch, to Tim Lincecum talking about the fifth game of the World Series. We tried to dig a little deeper into the highlights of the season."

The result is a series of stories that delve into the mind as much as into the result. Team chemistry is an ambivalent, formless term that needed the guiding hands of Haft and Alan to bring it together in such a way that clarifies and encompasses the whole of the season as seen through its parts.

The book's subtitle tells a story of its own: "The inside story of how the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants became one of baseball's greatest selfless teams: behind beards worth fearing, the Freak and the Machine and a rally thong for the ages, and converting an entire region into true believers."

Haft's rapport with the players, developed since he returned to the Bay Area and worked for the San Jose Mercury News in 2005, clearly becomes an asset for the book. He was able to obtain exclusive access to a handful of the pivotal players, who, in turn, shared insight not seen anywhere else.

Haft's first sports writing job out of Stanford was in Twin Falls, Idaho. He's also held journalism jobs in Houston and Cincinnati before returning to the Bay Area. He's covered the Astros, the Reds, the A's and the Giants. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals for three seasons.

He will be scheduling appearances in the area.

Haft can be followed on Twitter at #sfgiantsbeat.

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