SAN FRANCISCO — When news of Joe Panik’s retirement broke Thursday night, Giants fans flooded social media with highlights and images of the team’s former second baseman.
The four-time Gold Glover played more games with Panik as his Major League double-play partner than with any other second baseman to date. Crawford understands how Panik struck a chord with the fan base when he came up as a rookie and assumed an instrumental role in San Francisco’s 2014 World Series championship run.
“He was a great teammate,” Crawford said before Friday’s game against San Diego. “We were locker neighbors for a lot of our career. And he became a really good friend that we’ve been on vacation with and seen off the field plenty.”
Crawford shot Panik a text Friday morning to congratulate him on his retirement after an eight-year career spent with the Giants, Mets, Blue Jays and Marlins. Crawford also watched some of the highlights posted on social media, including the backhand glove-flip that Panik made to Crawford to get a forceout in Game 7 of the ’14 World Series, one of the most electrifying moments of that Fall Classic against Kansas City.
Panik spent five-plus seasons with San Francisco. After finishing sixth in the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year race, he was an All-Star in 2015 and won a Gold Glove in 2016.
The Giants’ infield during their ’14 championship run included Crawford, Panik, first baseman Brandon Belt and third baseman Pablo Sandoval, and Crawford offered perspective on why that group still holds a special place for many Giants fans.
“It was awesome. We were all homegrown and that doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “I think it’s great that fans loved it, too, because I’m sure they like seeing guys come up through the organization and make it in the big leagues.”