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Former Giants owner Peter Magowan dies

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Peter Magowan, the man who formed and led the ownership group that saved major league baseball in the City of the San Francisco, died of cancer yesterday at the age of 76.

While the Giants are now one of the most financially successful teams in Major League Baseball, that was not always the case. Indeed, due to poor revenues and attendance and an inability to get out of the less-than-ideal Candlestick Park, by 1992 it looked as though the team would abandon San Francisco altogether. The team’s then-owner, Bob Lurie, had a deal in place to move to the then-new and then-vacant ballpark in St. Petersburg that would later be named Tropicana Field. Magowan, a lifelong Giants fan who made his fortune as the chairman and CEO of Safeway grocery stores, stepped in and purchased the team from Lurie for $100 million, keeping the team in San Francisco. He was just getting started.

Before the paperwork was even complete on the purchase of the team, Magowan made two moves that would go a long way toward reshaping Giants baseball. He signed free agent outfielder Barry Bonds to a then-tremendous six-year, $43.5 million deal. He also hired Dusty Baker as the team’s new manager. Bonds, the 1992 MVP with the Pirates, won his second straight MVP Award in his first season in San Francisco and Baker led the team to 103 wins, a 31-win improvement over the previous year’s record. The team’s fortunes would ebb and flow for the remainder of the decade, but the success of 1993 and Bonds’ star power sparked newfound enthusiasm for the team.

That enthusiasm would eventually lead to a new home for the team when Magowan put together a plan to build the first privately-funded major league ballpark in decades. Pacific Bell Park, which would later be named SBC Park, AT&T Park and is now known as Oracle Park, opened on San Francisco’s waterfront in 2000. It was and remains one of the most gorgeous ballparks in the game, and has been filled to or near capacity for most Giants games for nearly two decades now. The Giants made the playoffs four times in Magowan’s 16-years as owner, including winning the 2002 National League pennant. He stepped down as chairman in 2008, but the ownership group he formed continues to run the team to this day. The Giants, of course, won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

Magowan’s accomplishments extended beyond the game on the field. Among other charitable and community outreach initiatives, at his direction the Giants became the first professional sports team to dedicate an annual game to combat AIDS/HIV, launching “Until There’s A Cure Day” in 1994. He likewise helped the Giants reconnect with a rich franchise history that was often neglected under previous ownership, bringing, among others, Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry into the organization as ambassadors and special advisors. In one of his last acts as an active owner he established the Giants Wall of Fame. He himself will be added to that Wall of Fame in a ceremony next month.

Magowan is survived by wife Debby, five children and 12 grandchildren. His family issued the following statement upon his passing:

“Our family lost a great man today. We all know how much Peter loved his Giants and San Francisco, and he had that same love and passion for his family. He was so proud of his children and grandchildren, and we will forever cherish the memories we made together.”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement as well:

“During a tenuous period for the franchise, Peter stepped up and led the group that purchased the Giants and kept them in San Francisco. With groundbreaking vision, he then guided the effort that resulted in a ballpark that became a landmark for the city. In his 16 seasons of leadership, Peter oversaw a winning, civic-minded ballclub that represented the spirit of San Francisco. The foundation created under his direction helped make the Giants the model club they remain today.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

Marlins clinch 1st playoff berth since 2003, beat Yanks 4-3

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NEW YORK — Forced from the field by COVID-19, the Miami Marlins returned with enough force to reach the playoffs for the first time since their 2003 championship.

An NL-worst 57-105 a year ago, they sealed the improbable berth on the field of the team that Miami CEO Derek Jeter and manager Don Mattingly once captained.

“I think this is a good lesson for everyone. It really goes back to the players believing,” Mattingly said Friday night after a 4-3, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees.

Miami will start the playoffs on the road Wednesday, its first postseason game since winning the 2003 World Series as the Florida Marlins, capped by a Game 6 victory in the Bronx over Jeter and his New York teammates at the previous version of Yankee Stadium.

“We play loose. We got nothing to lose. We’re playing with house money.,” said Brandon Kintzler, who got DJ LeMahieu to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded after Jesus Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th. “We are a dangerous team. And we really don’t care if anyone says we’re overachievers.”

Miami (30-28), second behind Atlanta in the NL East, became the first team to make the playoffs in the year following a 100-loss season. The Marlins achieved the feat despite being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that prevented them from playing for more than a week.

After the final out, Marlins players ran onto the field, formed a line and exchanged non socially-distant hugs, then posed for photos across the mound.

“I can’t contain the tears, because it’s a lot of grind, a lot of passion,” shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “It wasn’t just the virus. Last year we lost 100 games. But we came out this year with the hope everything was going to be better. When we had the outbreak, the guys who got an opportunity to help the organization, thank you for everything you did.”

Miami was one of baseball’s great doubts at the start of the most shortened season since 1878, forced off the field when 18 players tested positive for COVID-19 following the opening series in Philadelphia.

“Yeah, we’ve been through a lot. Other teams have been through a lot, too,” Mattingly said “This just not a been a great situation. It’s just good to be able to put the game back on the map.”

New York (32-26) had already wrapped up a playoff spot but has lost five of six following a 10-game winning streak and is assured of starting the playoffs on the road. Toronto clinched a berth by beating the Yankees on Thursday.

“I don’t like any time somebody celebrates on our field or if we’re at somebody else’s place and they celebrate on their field,” Yankees star Aaron Judge said. “I’m seeing that too much.”

Mattingly captained the Yankees from 1991-95 and is in his fifth season managing the Marlins, Jeter captained the Yankees from 2003-14 as part of a career that included five World Series titles in 20 seasons and is part of the group headed by Bruce Sherman that bought the Marlins in October 2017.

Garrett Cooper, traded to the Marlins by the Yankees after the 2017 season, hit a three-run homer in the first inning off J.A. Happ.

After the Yankees tied it on Aaron Hicks‘ two-run double off Sandy Alcantara in the third and Judge’s RBI single off Yimi Garcia in the eighth following an error by the pitcher on a pickoff throw, the Marlins regained the lead with an unearned run in the 10th against Chad Green (3-3).

Jon Berti sacrificed pinch-runner Monte Harrison to third and, with the infield in, Starling Marte grounded to shortstop. Gleyber Torres ran at Harrison and threw to the plate, and catcher Kyle Higashioka‘s throw to third hit Harrison in the back, giving the Yankees a four-error night for the second time in three games.

With runners at second and third, Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly.

Brad Boxberger (1-0) walked his leadoff batter in the ninth but got Luke Voit to ground into a double play, and Kintzler held on for his 12th save in 14 chances.

Miami ended the second-longest postseason drought in the majors – the Seattle Mariners have been absent since 2001.

Miami returned Aug. 4 following an eight-day layoff with reinforcements from its alternate training site, the trade market and the waiver wire to replace the 18 players on the injured list and won its first five games.

“We’re just starting,” said Alcantara, who handed a 3-2 lead to his bullpen in the eighth. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

TOSSED

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected for arguing from the dugout in the first inning. Plate umpire John Tumpane called out Judge on a full-count slider that appeared to drop well below the knees and Boone argued during the next pitch, to Hicks, then was ejected. Television microphones caught several of Boone’s profane shouts.

“Reacting to a terrible call and then following it up,” Boone said. “Obviously, we see Aaron get called a lot on some bad ones down.”

ODD

Pinch-runner Michael Tauchman stole second base in the eighth following a leadoff single by Gary Sanchez but was sent back to first because Tumpane interfered with the throw by catcher Chad Wallach. Clint Frazier struck out on the next pitch and snapped his bat over a leg.

SLOPPY

New York took the major league lead with 47 errors. Sanchez was called for catcher’s interference for the third time in five days and fourth time this month.

REMEMBERING

Mattingly thought of Jose Fernandez, the former Marlins All-Star pitcher who died four years earlier to the night at age 24 while piloting a boat that crashed. An investigation found he was legally drunk and had cocaine in his system. The night also marked the sixth anniversary of Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium.

UP NEXT

RHP Deivi Garcia (2-2, 4.88) starts Saturday for the Yankees and LHP Trevor Rogers (1-2, 6.84) for the Marlins. Garcia will be making the sixth start of his rookie season.