SAN FRANCISCO -- Peter A. Magowan, who led the drive to keep the Giants in San Francisco, died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer, the team announced. He was 76.Magowan was surrounded by relatives as he died. Reaction among the Giants' extended family was immediate and emotional."The Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- Peter A. Magowan, who led the drive to keep the Giants in San Francisco, died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer, the team announced. He was 76.
Magowan was surrounded by relatives as he died. Reaction among the Giants' extended family was immediate and emotional.
"The Giants family, the entire Bay Area and the game of baseball lost a man whose passion and loyalty to his favorite team and beloved community made it possible for all of us and future generations to experience the magic of Giants baseball in San Francisco forever," club president and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement. "Peter was my mentor and dear friend, and I will forever be grateful for his guidance, support and love. His legacy will be carried on by all those he inspired, including community leaders, our players, the front office, Junior Giants players and, of course, by his devoted family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Debby, and his children and their families."
• Magowan left memorable impression on Giants
The Magowan family issued the following statement: "Our family lost a great man today. We all know how much Peter loved his Giants and San Francisco, and he had that same love and passion for his family. He was so proud of his children and grandchildren, and we will forever cherish the memories we made together."
Magowan, chairman and CEO of the Safeway supermarket chain from 1979-93, organized a group of San Francisco-area investors in 1992 to buy the team from Bob Lurie after a group based in Tampa-St. Petersburg reached an agreement in principle to purchase the franchise and move it there. History helped motivate Magowan. He grew up rooting for the Giants in their previous home, New York, and experienced the heartbreak of losing them when the club relocated to San Francisco in 1958. He became a member of the team's board of directors after its move West.
On Tuesday, Nov. 10, 1992, National League owners voted 9-4 to reject the Florida deal, handing the team to Magowan and his consortium.
"The National League today disapproved the relocation of the San Francisco Giants to Tampa-St. Petersburg," said Bud Selig, then chairman of baseball's executive council. "In doing so, the league reaffirmed baseball's long-established preference for the stability of its franchises."
Magowan became the Giants' managing general partner and, along with Baer, launched efforts to build a stadium that would replace Candlestick Park, which fans avoided by the thousands due to its decay and the chilly conditions surrounding the area. That, they knew, was essential to the franchise's survival in San Francisco.
Finding a replacement for Candlestick meant winning a vote to build a stadium. Four previous initiatives failed at the ballot box because taxpayers would have assumed part of the costs. Magowan and Baer engineered enough deals to build the ballpark with mostly private funding, which helped the Giants finally win a stadium vote in 1996. The park opened as Pacific Bell Park in 2000 and was known as SBC Park and AT&T Park before a new business agreement prompted the recent change to Oracle Park.
Under Magowan's watch, the Giants also signed left fielder Barry Bonds to a then-revolutionary six-year, $43.75 million contract before the 1993 season. Adding Bonds, who became baseball's all-time home run leader in 2007, instantly transformed the Giants into a winning team. They finished 103-59 in '93, one game behind Atlanta in the NL West, after posting a 72-90 mark in 1992. Bonds proceeded to win five of his seven National League Most Valuable Player Awards with San Francisco, making his acquisition perhaps the most successful free-agent signing in professional sports history.
Magowan also hired Brian Sabean, whose tenure as general manager spanned eight consecutive winning seasons (1997-04). Moreover, by drafting right-hander Tim Lincecum (2006), left-hander Madison Bumgarner ('07) and catcher Buster Posey ('08) in the first round, besides obtaining the likes of relievers Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt; outfielders Cody Ross and Hunter Pence; and infielders Marco Scutaro, Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe through trades and free agency, Sabean built the World Series-winning teams of 2010, '12 and '14.
Magowan stepped down as managing general partner on Oct. 1, 2008, and ceded his role to William H. Neukom, who held that post until Baer took over on Jan. 1, 2012.
Willie Mays, the legendary Giants center fielder who was a lifelong favorite of Magowan's, issued the following statement:
"Peter Magowan has been a part of my life for a long, long time, first as a fan watching me play in New York, and then, remaining a fan when we moved to San Francisco. Along the way, he became my friend. Peter would call me often to check in. He and Debby cared about me, and it was so easy to care about them in return. It's hard to find the right words just now, but in losing Peter, I've lost a great, great friend. He was like my godfather. No one can replace him."
Commissioner Rob Manfred issued the following statement: "Peter Magowan was a vital figure in the history of the San Francisco Giants, the club he rooted for since his childhood in New York. During a tenuous period for the franchise, Peter stepped up and led the group that purchased the Giants and kept them in San Francisco. With groundbreaking vision, he then guided the effort that resulted in a ballpark that became a landmark for the city. In his 16 seasons of leadership, Peter oversaw a winning, civic-minded ballclub that represented the spirit of San Francisco. The foundation created under his direction helped make the Giants the model club they remain today. "
All of us in Baseball will be forever grateful to Peter for his pivotal part in preserving a first-class franchise in one of America's most vibrant cities. On behalf of Major League Baseball and his many friends in our game, I extend my deepest condolences to his wife, Debby, their children and their entire family."
On Wednesday, the Giants announced that Magowan would become the first non-player to receive a plaque on the club's Wall of Fame, which adorns Oracle Park near Second and King streets.
"Peter's mark on the Giants and the San Francisco community can be felt throughout the ballpark, in which he was intimately involved in the design and planning and throughout the daily operations of the organization," Baer said. "He set forth a Giants vision to create a winning culture and to serve our fans and the community. Over the past 25 years, we have followed through on his vision, and his impact on our community will be felt for decades to come."
In addition to Debby, Peter is survived by five children and 12 grandchildren. Funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Peter Magowan Fields for Kids Program of the Giants Community Fund.
"Peter Magowan did save baseball for San Francisco," Selig said in 2008. "He should get credit for that. That's a fact. He got a beautiful ballpark built. When you look back at what he's done in San Francisco, a town he loves, those are the two overriding things he did."
Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. Matt Kelly contributed reporting.