The San Francisco Giants had a bad year in 1992. The club finished 72-90, fifth place in the National League West, and were on the verge of being sold to a group of investors in Tampa, who had plans for moving the team to St. Petersburg.
It appeared that the rich history of baseball in the city by the bay was about to come to an end. But then another group, led by Peter Magowan, a lifelong Giants fan dating back to the team's New York days, swooped in and saved the day.
Magowan and his group bought the team in January 1993, and the rest is history. The club signed free agent Barry Bonds to a $43 million deal, and new manager Dusty Baker led the club to a 103-victory season. Though the Giants missed the playoffs that season, the team had been reborn after teetering on the brink of relocation.
Last June, I had the good fortune of sitting next to Peter Magowan at AT&T Park as the Giants took on the Boston Red Sox in interleague play. Though the game could have been better (the Giants lost) the conversation was great.
I first thanked Peter for keeping the club in San Francisco, and for the beautiful new ballpark—the construction of which he was the chief catalyst for.
He was very down-to-earth, gracious, and enthusiastic when it came to talking baseball. We talked about the 2010 Giants (at that time barely over .500, who knew where things would eventually lead), as well as the ballpark itself.
Some interesting tid-bits:
Magowan and the Giants were initially considering another location for the stadium, near San Francisco International Airport.
Also interesting, was the Giants were considering having the ballpark face a different direction on China Basin. Instead of having home plate face the bay, with McCovey Cove as the backdrop beyond the right field arcade, the Giants were considering having home plate face downtown, with the bay behind the stadium.
I think we all can agree that the right choices were made as to location and direction for AT&T Park.
Peter Magowan not only saved baseball in San Francisco, but is a very nice guy to chat with. Here's to you, Mr. Magowan, and those who joined you in keeping the Giants in San Francisco. We wouldn't be celebrating a World Series title without your dedication to the franchise.