The Real Reason A's Can't Move
Perhaps now that San Jose’s desperation move to get the A’s was totally ignored by the U.S. Supreme Court, we can finally lie to rest that urban legend that Walter Haas gave San Jose to the Giants.
This has always been absurd. Haas had no such power. When a team relocates, as both the A’s and Giants had done when they came to the Bay Area, they do so only after the move has been approved by major league owners. The area they control is specifically noted. San Jose was never part of the area designated for the A’s.
I’m sure that Bob Lurie told Haas that he wanted to try to get a park built in the San Jose/Santa Clara area and that Haas told him he had no objection. Made no difference. Lurie struck out on two attempts to get San Jose/Santa Clara voters to approve his plans, which called for financial support from them.
So, Lurie remained at Candlestick until he provisionally sold the team to Tampa Bay businessmen after the 1992 season.
I was in close contact with the group working to keep the Giants in San Francisco and wrote that I thought they could get it done. The sports editor of The Chronicle, John Curley, called me a Pollyanna, which was a first, but Curley knew nothing of what was happening. He never did.
I was optimistic because I was in close contact with the group working to keep the Giants, the only member of the media with whom Walter Shorenstein, who headed up the group, would talk. Just before he stepped down and turned it over to Peter Magowan, Shorenstein told me the details of the deal they’d worked out with Major League Baseball: The Giants had to get a new park built within 10 years and in return, would have exclusive rights to the counties running down the Peninsula through San Jose. The Giants, of course, wanted Silicon Valley money to build the park and also buy many of the very expensive suites.
With that Silicon Valley money, the Giants built a beautiful park, beating the deadline by two years, and have filled it regularly.
When Lew Woolf and the oh-so-silent partner. John Fisher, bought the A’s, Woolf thought he could get commissioner Bud Selig, his old fraternity buddy, to negate the Giants rights to San Jose. But, that would have required a majority vote among owners. Selig never called a vote he wasn’t sure he could win and he knew National League owners would never approve that. So, though the San Jose Mercury kept insisting that owners were going to vote any day now to let the A’s move to San Jose, it never happened.
San Jose has spent a lot of money on these efforts and voters could honestly challenge the former mayor Chuck Reed on why he kept butting his head against the wall.
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