Both teams used a “spy” in center field to steal the opposing catcher’s signals and relay them to the batter. For the Astros, it was a center field camera feeding a monitor in the dugout. For the 1951 Giants, it was a handheld telescope manned by a coach, who then pressed a buzzer that sounded in the bullpen. Both teams then signaled the pitch to the hitter — the Astros by banging a trash can, the Giants by having a player in the bullpen either toss a ball in the air or hold it still.
The Astros dominated their competition during the regular season, then won a pair of seven-game series against the Yankees and Dodgers to take the 2017 crown, winning eight of nine postseason games in their home park. On Thursday, their players apologized for the sign-stealing.
But the Giants were 7½ games out of first place on July 19, 1951, only six games above .500, when manager Leo Durocher called a team meeting to announce the new sign-stealing scheme. The Giants roared back into contention, going 49-17 the rest of the season, and finished tied for first with the Brooklyn Dodgers, in the era before divisions and wild cards and games in November.
So in the last game of a three-game…