For Fans, By Fans

Echoes From 527: Toronto Giants?


Long before the Giants moved in to beautiful AT&T park,  Brian Wilson began growing his rediculos beard and Hunter Pence hit a ball 3 times with one swing, San Francisco was in serious jeopardy of losing its Major League Baseball club.

In 1976 Willie Mays had moved on,  ticket sales at the cavernous Candlestick Park had hit a major decline and the residents of San Francisco had appeared to have lost all interest in baseball.

The Oakland Athletics were annual contenders yet suffered the similar lack luster performances at the gates. One thing was clear, Baseball was a hard sell in the bay area.

Long time owner Horace Stoneham, who had moved the Giants out of the Polo Grounds and across the country to California, wanted out of the city before he suffered a substantial loss.

The fact that the Giants franchise was up for grabs was no secret around baseball circles and a number of organizations began to inquire about the fleeting ball club.

The partnership of Labatts, CIBC and a real estate mogul named Howard Webster had all of the requirements necessary (money) to successfully court the Giants. Their intentions were to move the team in to Exhibition Stadium, Toronto.

On Friday January 9th 1976, future team president and current politician Paul Godfrey announced that the partnership had secured the purchase of the San Francisco Giants for a modest price of 12 million dollars. Godfrey who had played a pivotal role in securing Major League Baseball for Toronto had finally completed the task he had set out to achieve in 1968.

San Francisco had itself a new Mayor in George Moscone and he wasn’t about to lose a major sports franchise on his watch. A mere 3 days after announcing the deal, Moscone’s henchmen put a temporary restraining order on the transfer of the club, buying himself some time to figure out his next move.

In essence, Moscone went to court in search of a permanent injunction that would effectively kill the idea of the Giants moving out of San Francisco. If an offer matching the 12 million posted by the Toronto group could be matched, Toronto would be left with nothing but a retrofitted football stadium and a broken heart.

Shortly after his court date, the money was posted in by a San Francisco based partnership and Toronto was out of luck. Godfrey and the Toronto Baseball Group would have to focus their attention on the other option…  American League expansion.

Not to say that Toronto would be in the World Series for the 2nd time in 3 years had the sale officially gone through, but the fact that we once called the Giants ours should give Blue Jays fans another reason to cheer for San Francisco in the Fall Classic.

That and Marco Scutaro, of course.

Check out this gem from the CBC archives.












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