In a simple ceremony held on September 18, 2021 and presided by Giants CEO and President Larry Baer, a gathering of San Francisco’s luminaries looked on as Bob Lurie, former owner of the Giants who last owned the team in 1993, was named the 54th “Forever Giant,” and his likeness was unveiled on the Oracle Park Wall of Fame.
“Bob became a model steward of this franchise,” said Baer. “Always trying to do what was best for the fans on & off the field.”
The festive occasion brought together supporters, former co-workers and team-mates, along with friends and family members, who embraced one another warmly upon greeting. Guests at the event included such names as former Giants Vida Blue, Will Clark, Dave Dravecky, Jeffrey Leonard, and Kevin Mitchell, who sat in the front row during the ceremony. They were joined by Senator Dianne Feinstein, former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice, and three former mayors of San Francisco, along with Giants coach Gabe Kapler.
Only the second non-player ever honored on the Wall of Fame, Lurie’s legacy is a reminder that his contributions to the franchise will never be forgotten, and that the Giants are where they are today thanks to his actions taken several decades ago.
The 92-year-old Lurie is best known – and loved – for keeping the Giants in San Francisco. in 1976, when Lurie developed an ownership group for the franchise, the Giants had been sold to Labatt Brewing Company, and the team was scheduled to move to Toronto, until Lurie put a stop to those plans.
When Lurie came to own the Giants, he inherited a franchise that was strapped for cash and morally jaded, having recently traded their superstar Willie Mays to the New York Mets in exchange for cash that they needed desperately. Lurie came in and rebuilt every fiber of the organization, starting from scratch. Under Lurie’s direction, the team rose from the ashes and regained its pride, competing in the 1989 World Series.
While that single feat might have been sufficient to cement Lurie’s fame in franchise history, his impact was actually far more profound. Lurie also made history by supporting the hiring of Frank Robinson, the first Black manager in the history of the National League, even as he and his wife received death threats for doing so at the time.
Lurie was also instrumental in restoring Willie Mays’ good name after his post-career ban from baseball due to his involvement with casinos. He hired Larry Baer, the team’s current CEO and president, back when he was just an intern studying at Cal Berkeley. Lurie also established the Giants Community Fund, a philanthropic project that has raised over $34 million since its inception, as well as the regional sports network that became NBC Sports Bay Area, launching the broadcasting careers of Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, who became the official voices of the Giants throughout the team’s most iconic achievements and historic seasons.
Lurie also led a proposal in the 1980s to relocate the Giants’ home stadium from Candlestick Park to the site on the corner of 3rd and King Streets, where Oracle Park stands today. At that time, Lurie had a running joke with then-mayor Art Agnos that the ballpark would be so close to the water, that home run balls would fly out of the park and into the Bay, a phenomenon he laughingly referred to as “Splash hits.”
Lurie’s colorful career and history with the Giants inspired speeches by several guests, among them former mayor Art Agnos, who credited Lurie’s progressive lead for such fortunate achievements as the Giants’ hiring of Alyssa Nakken, the first-ever woman to serv e full-time as an MLB coach.
Corey Busch, who served for 14 years as executive vice president for the Giants franchise said, “I think Bob’s body of work exemplifies what legacies are made of. And his legacy will live forever, not just because he’s going to be enshrined in the Giants Wall of Fame, but because of what he did for the Giants, for baseball and for the city he loves.”