SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Peter Magowan, a key figure who helped build the San Francisco Giants’ baseball dynasty in the 2010’s, died on Sunday in his San Francisco home after a years-long battle with cancer. He was 76 years old.
He was the managing general partner of the team for 16 years. Magowan, an investor and the former CEO of Safeway, led the investment group that purchased the Giants in 1993.
Right after the purchase, Magowan pushed for the team to sign super-slugging legend Barry Bonds, who went on to become one of the best hitters in baseball history.
During his tenure, the Giants reached the post season four times and were the 2002 National League champions.
He received numerous awards for the organization’s innovative community work, including becoming the first professional sports team to dedicate an annual game to the fight against AIDS/HIV with the creation of “Until There’s A Cure Day” in 1994.
He also signed Willie Mays to a lifetime contract as a Giants special adviser, as he later did for Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda.
Magowan is known for setting forth in motion the construction of what is today known as Oracle Park, the Giants’ longtime waterfront home. The idea of such a park was pushed back for years by San Francisco voters. At the time, it was the first privately-funded ballpark built for 30 years.
The ballpark was part of Magowan’s successful effort to keep the Giants from leaving San Francisco, heading off a likely move to Tampa Bay, Florida.
He was a key figure who hired the executives and managers who helped build the Giants even-year legacy starting in 2010. In 2008, Magowan stepped down as the team’s managing partner. He celebrated the team’s first championship during the parade in 2010.
The Giants took to social media to share the news and honor Magowan’s legacy. Barry Bonds posted an emotional message full of gratitude. Willie Mays said Magowan was “like his godfather.” Many said that Magowan saved baseball in San Francisco.
In a statement, San Francisco mayor London Breed also expressed her condolences.
“Without his efforts, we would not have experienced the joy of three World Series championships and of countless days out at the ballpark. In his honor, we have lit up City Hall in Giants orange tonight. Peter gave our City so much and I know all Giants fans join me tonight in remembering and honoring him,” she said.
Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown also remembered Magowan fondly. “Peter Magowan was the driving force. He wasn’t just one of the driving forces. It was Peter Magowan,” he said.
Pat Gallagher, a former longtime Giants executive who worked closely with Magowan, remembered his legacy and the work he did to keep the Giants from leaving the Bay Area.
“He did some things nobody thought could be done. If somebody said 30 years ago, the Giants would be playing in a ballpark like that in San Francisco, nobody would believe it,” he said.
Magowan was a New York native who later went to Stanford; he grew up as Giants fan in New York, where they won their last championship (1954) before 2010. He followed the team to California and helped build a new dynasty in San Francisco.
Since Oracle Park opened in 2000, the Giants have become one of the Top 5 most valuables teams in baseball.
Magowan and his wife Debby have five children and 12 grandchildren. His funeral service will be private, but the family said donations can be made to the Peter Magowan Fields for Kids Program of the Giants Community Fund.