San Francisco Giants History: The Almost Tampa Bay Giants
Imagine your San Francisco Giants playing in a concrete, domed monster.
Instead of looking at the beautiful shores of McCovey Cove, right field would show high catwalks, a Teflon dome, and a bland concrete wall. Giants games at the Suncoast Dome may average 10,000 fans on a good night, with the team struggling to reach .500 year-after-year.
Such was almost the reality for the Giants.
There almost was no AT&T Park. There almost was no Barry Bonds. There were almost no magical 2010, 2012, and 2014 World Series runs.
Watch the below YouTube video, and you will see what almost was for your San Francisco Giants. The video is from CBS’ “60 Minutes” from 1992.
Baseball is unique because of its antitrust exemption. Thus, Major League Baseball owners can vote whether or not to stop a sale, regardless of the highest bidder, which was the case in 1992.
Fortunately for the Giants, this kept them in San Francisco. The National League owners voted 9-4 to keep the Giants in San Francisco and stop their sale to a Tampa Bay ownership group.
This opened the door for Peter McGowan to purchase the Giants for $15 million less than the Tampa Bay group. Tampa Bay was infuriated.
For those of you who hate the Los Angeles Dodgers, consider this. They voted to keep the Giants in San Francisco so their rivalry would not be tarnished.
Other teams that voted in favor of blocking the sale were the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and the Colorado Rockies.
To further show their firm grounding in San Francisco for generations to come, the Giants signed Barry Bonds to be the face of the franchise. Bonds would go on to break baseball’s all-time home run record and was a legend in San Francisco.
Then Interim Commissioner Bud Selig supported keeping the Giants in San Francisco, and embraced letters from San Franciscans which said fans enjoyed watching Willie Mays play when they were children.
Giants fans should also thank Supreme Court Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes. He allowed the above process to take place, to the chagrin of Sen. Connie Mack III.
You can read more about that whole process here.
Here is what Sen. Mack said about the process that kept the Giants in San Francisco:
"“By preventing the Giants from moving to Tampa Bay, major league baseball has shown that it is more interested in preserving its sacred monopoly than allowing the free market to work.”"
But Giants fans do not seem to mind.
That “sacred monopoly” helped build one of the best stadiums in baseball in one of the most spectacular vistas in the country.
Regardless of what Connie Mack’s grandson said, the Giants staying in San Francisco was the best thing for baseball.
All you have to do is show him the gem at the corner of Third and King streets in downtown San Francisco.
The ownership group led by Peter McGowan had baseball fans in mind when they bought the Giants and saved them from what was then the Suncoast Dome. Now that domed structure, Tropicana Field, is considered one of the worst venues in baseball.
And that was what your San Francisco Giants would have called home.
Which ballpark is better?
10,000 luke-warm fans in a domed monster versus 42,000 passionate, rabid fans where it is always “magic inside.” Baseball would probably rather have the latter.
Fans probably would much rather see a splash home run than, well, nothing.
So, if it is worth anything, Giants fans should probably give thanks to Bud and Judge Holmes for helping give them the jewel by the Bay.