If you thought the San Francisco Giants 2010 world championship season was “Torture,” wait ‘til you contemplate an alternate history that kind-of almost came to pass. Local hardball blog McCovey Chronicles tags a report that Donald Trump had shown interest in buying the San Francisco Giants back in 1985, a move which, had it been realized more than 30 years ago, might have allowed orange Giants ball caps to prevent the existence of red “Make America Great Again” ball caps.
This discovery is just a small tidbit from Deadspin’s lengthy report on Trump’s attempt to build a rival league to Major League Baseball back in the 80s. While Trump’s ultimate goal was to build a whole competing pro baseball league which they actually considered calling ‘the Trump League’ that effort grew out of Trump’s multiple failed attempts to buy MLB teams before bankruptcies racked up at his Atlantic City hotels and casinos.
Back in 1985, Trump was a fresh-faced occasional David Letterman guest who owned the New Jersey Generals of the fledgling USFL and did not realize that that league would fold the following season. The Giants, for their part, were about to embark on what would be their worst season ever, as the team went 62-100 playing at Candlestick Park. (Current announcers Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper were both on that 1985 team’s roster!)
Deadspin has a few scant details on Trump’s interest in the Giants, which never really amounted to anything. Trump’s New Jersey Generals had just drafted college phenom Doug Flutie when the UPI ran a February 11, 1985 article entitled ‘With Flutie in Tow, Trump Looks to Get Into Baseball.” Author Milton Richman merely throws out some unsourced gossip noting that Trump had just been rebuffed in his attempt to buy the Minnesota Twins, “so the team that interests him now is the San Francisco Giants.”
Deadspin also offers a March 1985 San Diego Union-Tribune tidbit noting then-owner of the Giants Bob Lurie, who had been trying to sell the team, met with Trump. But the Sacramento Bee has tracked down the 1985 New York Times article from which that information originated, during a period when the Giants seemed very likely to move:
Another possibility has been whispered: New Jersey luring the Giants to a new Meadowlands baseball stadium.
''I don't know how that ever got started,'' Bob Lurie says. ''I never talked to anybody there, and I've never had a phone call from anybody there.''
The Giants' owner acknowledges having chatted twice with Donald Trump ''a long time ago'' about a purchase.
''We talked on the phone once,'' Bob Lurie says of the New Jersey Generals' owner. ''Another time he just wanted to say hello when I was in New York, so I went to his office and shook his hand, I don't think I was there more than 10 minutes. But he was interested in owning the Giants in San Francisco, not taking them back to the New York area.''
One cannot help but consider the parallel-universe outcomes had Trump actually bought the San Francisco Giants back in 1985. Would this course of history have led Trump away from entering politics? Would Trump have moved the Giants away from San Francisco, depriving us of our three World Series titles? Or would San Francisco have come to love Trump’s mob-connected ownership style, as we did with Eddie DeBartolo? And would this love have changed him?
I prefer to imagine that Eddie D. and Al Davis would have had Trump "taken care of" in a mafia war between Bay Area sports team owners. Now that’s an HBO alternate-reality series that I could get behind.