Devoted philanthropist and mother of two succumbs to complications from cancer after being diagnosed with disease on July 10
Sue Burns, a part owner of the San Francisco Giants and devoted philanthropist who was close friends with home run king Barry Bonds, has died. She was 58.
Burns died early Sunday of complications from cancer, the team said. She was diagnosed with the disease July 10 and missed Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter for the Giants that night — a rare absence from the ballpark. Burns attended a game against San Diego the previous day.
“All of baseball mourns the passing of Sue Burns,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “She and her late husband, Harmon, along with Peter Magowan and the other Giants’ investors saved baseball in San Francisco in 1992. Sue was a great baseball fan and loved her Giants. She was a wonderful person who was beloved for all of her good works in the community.
“She will be missed and on behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest sympathies and condolences to her family and friends.”
Giants players and coaches had their annual picnic with Burns at her suburban Atherton home on July 8. Always dressed in orange, she was a fixture at the ballpark in the lower-box seats near San Francisco’s dugout.
“She was there every day,” manager Bruce Bochy said in Pittsburgh, where the Giants played the Pirates. “She loved her boys. She was proud of them.”
Former Giants manager and current Reds skipper Dusty Baker said he spoke to Burns only a few days ago. Baker’s wife, Melissa, and son, Darren, had planned to visit Burns on Sunday night, Baker said.
He was shocked to hear the news in a call from Giants bench coach Ron Wotus.
“I have a pain in my heart,” Baker said from Cincinnati after his team beat Milwaukee 5-3. “What a great person. She and Harmon were as kind and conscientious people as I’ve ever seen. They were always thoughtful. They were owners but didn’t seem like owners. They made everybody feel like family. They genuinely had love for people, the players and their families. It made for a wonderful situation.”
Burns often followed the team on the road and regularly went to spring training in Arizona. The Giants estimated that she attended at least 1,000 games over the last decade.
“We all have heavy hearts,” Bochy said. “Sue was such a beautiful lady who gave us her unwavering support all the time. These were her kids. We’re going to miss her, her smile, coming down by the dugout before the game. Our thoughts are with her family, her daughters Tori and Trina.”
San Francisco held a pregame prayer for Burns before Sunday’s game.
“The whole thing’s been unreal how fast all this happened,” Bochy said. “It was just over a week ago, the team was at her house for a function, and one of those functions they all looked forward to and couldn’t wait to go to. Now she’s passed away. It’s unreal. … It’s a hard day for all of us.”
The Giants didn’t detail Burns’ stake in the team but said she was the club’s largest shareholder. However, she was never the controlling owner of the franchise.
Bill Neukom took over as controlling owner in October 2008 from Magowan, who headed the group that bought the team following the 1992 season.
“The Giants are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague Sue Burns,” Neukom said in a statement. “Sue was a remarkable mother, grandmother and friend whose loving and nurturing spirit touched everyone in the Giants family. Her unwavering loyalty to her beloved orange and black could be felt throughout the entire organization.”
Burns’ husband, Harmon, died of heart failure in 2006 at age 61.
The Burns family was largely responsible for keeping the Giants in the Bay Area in 1992 rather than relocating to Florida. Bonds arrived the following year and went on to become baseball’s career home run leader when he broke Hank Aaron’s record in August 2007.
The couple also were integral in building the team’s 10-year-old waterfront ballpark at China Basin.
“The times I met her, she was the most enthusiastic Giants fan in history,” Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff said by phone Sunday. “She’ll be deeply missed. I really think their commitment to Giants ownership was a great deal based on her enthusiasm for the baseball team. She was the epitome of a Giants fan.”
Burns was born Aug. 9, 1950, in Anchorage, Alaska. She is survived by two daughters, Tori Burns and Trina Dean, son-in-law Rob Dean, and two granddaughters, Madison and Mackenzie.
“It’s unbelievable to think she’s gone, really,” All-Star pitcher Matt Cain said. “I don’t think we’ll realize that until we get back home and we don’t see her, and it’s sad to hear that. All of our thoughts and prayers and everything are with her family. Hopefully, they can get through this time.”
Funeral arrangements were pending.
AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick in New York and AP Sports Writer Alan Robinson in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.
© Copyright CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.