Sept. 15, 2011
URBAN ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO
SAN FRANCISCO -- In a press conference that felt far more like a celebratory passing of the torch than a rehashing of the reportedly contentious events that led to it, outgoing Giants managing general partner Bill Neukom and incoming CEO Larry Baer insisted that it would be "business as usual" for the 2010 World Series champions.
The announcement of Neukom's pending departure followed Wednesday's San Jose Mercury News report that there was unrest in the ownership group over his leadership. Neukom admitted in his opening remarks that the release of the story advanced the club's internal year-end timetable for him stepping down. He described Thursday's gathering as "impromptu."
Neukom neither admitted nor denied reports of communication issues with the other owners, describing their dialogue over his three-year tenure as "robust."
Asked if he was forced out, Neukom said, "I don't think that's the right characterization at all."
Baer said he will assume Neukoms duties as CEO -- but not as managing general partner -- effective Jan. 1, 2012. Neukom will serve as chairman emeritus through 2012.
"We had hoped to make this announcement after our baseball season ended in order to minimize any distractions for the baseball team or for the fans or for the front office," Neukom said in his opening remarks. "... The good news is I will be succeeded by Larry Baer, who has been the cornerstone of this franchise for 20 years."
Asked about his dealing with the other investors, the 69-year-old former Microsoft lawyer said, "my relationship with the other investors, from my standpoint, is positive," adding that "there was no precipitating event that I'm aware of."
Neukom, who took over the primary ownership position from Peter Magowan in October 2008, said he will be divesting his ownership shares back to the ownership group, but will remain a season ticket-holder and be available for consultation "in every sense."
Neukom spoke of growing up in San Mateo and playing baseball in the street as a young fan of the Giants. He highlighted his father's purchase for him of 10 shares of Giants stock in 1958, adding that he wished he still had the stock certificate.
Baer indicated his gratitude and respect for Neukom's contributions, highlighted by last season's World Series victory over the Texas Rangers.
"First and foremost we achieved a world championship last year under Bill's leadership and we will never forget that," Baer said.
During the press conference Neukom laid out the goals he established after taking the owership lead in 2008. This included providing winning baseball for the fan base, increasing attendance, increasing the value of the Giants enterprise as a whole, and to "win it all."
"We managed to achieve this," Neukom said. "And I'm obviously very proud of that."
Neukom told the assembled media he plans to focus his attention on the World Justice Project, an initiative he founded in 2006 to strengthen the rule of law worldwide. He also plans to teach at Stanford Law School, his alma mater.
As for Baer, the focus remains unchanged.
"Going forward, this is business as usual. To put it simply, this is not a turnaround in any stretch of the imagination," Baer said, noting that in the soon-to-be 20 years under the current ownership group, the Giants are unique in having just three field managers, two general managers and now three CEOs.
"The perspective of winning is foremost, tantamount, always will be. We've had continuity around that concept since this group has owned the team."
Baer said that payroll would not be reduced and insisted the team would maintain its stance that it has territorial rights to San Jose.