San Francisco Giants Manager Gabe Kapler (center) at a press conference, Nov. 13, 2019. (Gabe Stutman)
San Francisco Giants Manager Gabe Kapler (center) at a press conference, Nov. 13, 2019. (Gabe Stutman)

Giants ink Gabe Kapler deal through 2024

Singing the praises of their 46-year-old Jewish manager, the San Francisco Giants announced last week they had extended Gabe Kapler’s contract by two years after an impressive 2021 season, his second with the team.

Kapler, who recently made a splash on social media with this photo of him cycling in style (don’t tell his Jewish mother he wasn’t wearing a helmet), and who famously bikes to and from work at Oracle Park, will direct traffic from the Giants dugout at least through the 2024 season, the team announced on Nov. 12. His contract had been set to expire at the end of the 2022 season.

“We’re just really happy … to create some long-term stability in this relationship,” said Farhan Zaidi, the team’s president of baseball operations.

“The organization has gotten better, both on and off the field,” since 2019, general manager Scott Harris said. “I think that’s a tribute to Kap and all the hard work he brought to the job.”

Kapler, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley and graduated from Taft High School in Woodland Hills, spent 12 seasons as a major league outfielder before moving on to a second career in player development, coaching and managing. He got his first managerial job with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018, and after he was fired following two seasons in which the team compiled a 161-163 record, the Giants hired him in November 2019. 

He is one of two current Jewish managers in the major leagues. The other is Bob Melvin, who recently left the Oakland A’s after 11 seasons to take the helm for the San Diego Padres.

After a fair showing in a 2020 season truncated by the effects of the pandemic, the Giants dramatically exceeded expectations in Kapler’s second term, posting a franchise record 107 wins behind a mix of strong performances from veterans such as Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey, and contributions from younger players like pitcher Logan Webb. 

The team was eliminated from the playoffs in a dramatic series against the Los Angeles Dodgers that went to a fifth and deciding game. Still, Kapler is a favorite to win the National League Manager of the Year award, an honor Bruce Bochy never received in his 13 seasons with the Giants despite leading them to three World Series titles.

The son of two teachers who said in 2017 he feels “immensely proud” of the Jewish people, Kapler was a player-coach for the Israeli national baseball team during the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He called the experience of visiting Israel in 2017 “extraordinary.” 

Among his many tattoos — he reportedly has 14 — there is a Star of David on one leg and the words “Never Again” on the other.

Kapler is one of only nine Jewish managers in the long history of the major leagues; the list includes former catcher Brad Ausmus, Lipman “Lip” Pike (a player-manager in the 1870s) and Andy Cohen, who managed one game for the Phillies in 1960, according to the Jewish Baseball News.

Kapler shared appreciation to the fans and to the Giants brass in the team’s video announcement. 

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know our fan base, and feel like San Francisco is home now,” he said. “This feels like an endorsement of what I already felt — which is that I belong here.”

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.