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Ex-Giants owner Lurie enters Bay Area shrine

LOS ANGELES -- Much of the Giants' organizational stability and continuity began with Bob Lurie, the club's former owner who was inducted Tuesday night into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.

The team has had only three general managers since September 1985 -- Al Rosen, Bob Quinn and Brian Sabean. During that same period, four men have managed the Giants: Roger Craig, Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou and Bruce Bochy. President and chief executive officer Larry Baer initially joined the Giants as the club's marketing director in 1980, left the organization to attend Harvard Business School in 1983 and returned in 1996.

"We tried to run it as a family," said Lurie, who spent 1976-1992 at the Giants' helm.

Lurie's purchase of the Giants kept the organization from moving to Toronto.

"It was a great honor and privilege to be able to do it," Lurie said. Referring to the club's World Series triumphs in 2010 and 2012, Lurie added, "A lot has happened since, obviously. It's been so exciting."

When Lurie bought the Giants, they inspired so little faith in the Bay Area at that point that he had to scramble to gather enough funds to buy the team. His initial co-investor was Arthur "Bud" Herseth, a Phoenix cattle rancher who admitted knowing extremely little about baseball.

Lurie presided over the largest home attendance spike in club history, in terms of percentage (1,740,477 from 700,056 in 1977), brought the 1984 All-Star Game to Candlestick Park and hired the shrewd duo of Rosen and Craig, who ended a 27-year drought by constructing a pennant-winning team in 1989.

But Lurie tried in vain to find the Giants a new Bay Area home to replace reviled Candlestick. Ironically, one of the proposed sites was China Basin, where the Giants' hugely popular AT&T Park stands. Four ballpark ballot measures failed, largely because voters refused to commit tax dollars to any stadium project. Having exhausted his options, Lurie agreed to sell the Giants to a group that would have moved them to Tampa-St. Petersburg following the 1992 season. Then Peter Magowan, as Lurie did 16 years earlier, guided an effort to keep the Giants in San Francisco.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.
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