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Everything changed 26 years ago

In the midst of their 60th anniversary celebration, let’s not forget that a key part of Giants history happened on this date 26 years ago.

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You already knew that once upon a time, the Giants were set to move to Tampa Bay. Owner Bob Lurie couldn’t get Bay Area taxpayers to foot the bill for a new stadium, so he wanted to get out of baseball. Tampa Bay had been trying to get a team for years, going so far as to build a domed stadium before ever having a team.

All of this came to a head and was made public on this date 26 years ago.

In a “secret meeting” that both the Tampa Bay and San Francisco TV stations learned about and reported on, Lurie agreed to sell the Giants to Vince Naimoli’s ownership group for $110 million, stunning Giants fans and players alike.

``Everybody says sports isn’t important,’’ said pitcher Dave Righetti, a native of San Jose.

``But it is important. It gives people a sense of community.``I think this is terrible. I’m going to miss it. I’m not going to be able to take my kids there. Not knowing my future, I’m speaking strictly as a Bay Area person. And I think it’s sad. It was done in whatever year they built that place (Candlestick Park) -- that wrong place. It’s always been doomed, I think.’’

I hope you enjoy Candlestick slander as much as I do, because it’s a lot like the Crazy Crab. Candlestick was the “anti-stadium” that, while it became home to plenty of great memories, was a garbage bag blowing in the wind. Its beauty was always ephemeral but the posterity we give it in memory is stronger and better than anything it deserved in reality.

Anyway, there was very little chance the Giants would include almost leaving San Francisco as part of their 60th anniversary celebration, but they are retiring Barry Bonds’ #25 this weekend, and Bonds was an integral part of the Giants remaining and thriving in the City.

(By the way, View Reserve tickets for the ceremony — no bad views at AT&T Park — are going for $39 each through our sponsor StubHub.)

The biggest moment of San Francisco Giants history was when they were set to move to Florida. It generated a flurry of moves to keep the team there — Peter Magowan led an ownership group that successfully grabbed the team for $100 million — including an airport meeting where Magowan offered Bonds a record-setting contract.

The Giants had to take a step back to move forward. Or face a setback to propel themselves towards success. Or... “there cannot be peace without first a great suffering. The greater the suffering, the greater the peace”? But that idea isn’t something a team wants to celebrate, even though there are no 60th anniversary festivities, Wall of Fame or jersey number retirement ceremonies without this key moment in franchise history.

Selling the team kept the Giants in San Francisco. It netted them Barry Bonds. Dustiny. AT&T Park. Matt Cain. All those history-making home runs. Tim Lincecum. Three world titles. Our collective fandom. Maybe Grant Brisbee is never born. There is no McCovey Chronicles, which means there’s no SB Nation, which means Vox is just Ezra Klein’s LiveJournal, if that entity even exists. Most importantly, there’s no Marco Scutaro rain globe.

We’re all over the Giants pumping their history in defiance of the present and future (well, I am, anyway), but, still, what a history to hock! The Giants owners are about to become landed gentry and we get to watch the orange and black play in San Francisco for the rest of our lives.