Giants owner Burns dies of cancer

Giants owner Burns dies of cancer

PITTSBURGH -- Playing home games no longer will be the same for the San Francisco Giants.

The club announced that Sue Burns, the team's senior general partner who was a virtual fixture in her seat adjacent to the Giants' dugout, died early Sunday morning of cancer. She was 58.

It became known last week that Burns was seriously ill. Her subsequent physical decline came swiftly.

"It's so sad that she's gone, and it's so sudden and unexpected that it's overwhelmed all of us with emotion," Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow said. "We're all trying to deal with the loss. I totally expect her to be back in her seat when we get back to AT&T Park. It's just a bitter reminder of how fragile life is. She was a gift."

Infielder Rich Aurilia, who has spent more years with the Giants than any player on the club, said that his memories of Burns transcend baseball.

"It was what a great woman she was and the way she treated everybody," Aurilia said. "She'll be sorely missed sitting in that front row."

Led by outfielder Randy Winn, Giants players prayed for Burns before beginning pregame drills upon learning of her death Sunday morning. They had videotaped a get-well message for her last Friday.

"We all have heavy hearts today," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Sue was such a beautiful lady who gave us her unwavering support all the time. These were her kids and we're going to really miss her and her smile coming into the dugout before the game. ... Now that she's passed away, it's unreal. It's hard to believe how fast it happened. It's a hard day for all of us."

Giants managing general partner and CEO Bill Neukom expressed his sorrow in a statement. "Sue was a remarkable mother, grandmother and friend whose loving and nurturing spirit touched everyone in the Giants family," Neukom said. "Her unwavering loyalty to her beloved orange and black could be felt throughout the entire organization."

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement that read, in part, "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."

Burns, who was born on Aug. 9, 1950, in Anchorage, Alaska, was the widow of Harmon Burns, who died in November of 2006 at age 61. A financier in the San Francisco Bay Area, Harmon Burns was a key member of the investor group that purchased the Giants from Bob Lurie after the 1992 season and prevented them from moving to Tampa-St. Petersburg.

Peter Magowan, the Giants' managing general partner from the time they were bought from Lurie until last October, addressed Harmon Burns' largely overlooked impact on the franchise. "The Giants wouldn't be here, in my view, had Harmon not had that passion and commitment," Magowan told The San Francisco Chronicle upon Burns' death.

Sue and Harmon met in 1969 when they both worked at the Pentagon. They moved to California in 1972, where they raised their daughters, Trina Burns Dean and Tori Burns. Sue Burns proceeded to earn her degree from California State University-Hayward and taught math at Woodside Priory from 1983-1992.

Sue Burns inherited the title of senior general partner once her husband died. She had been said to possess the largest ownership stake in the team among its many partners.

Burns' ardor for the Giants never flagged, even as her illness worsened. Earlier this month, she hosted her annual party for team members, club officials and investors at her Atherton, Calif., home.

"She loved her boys," Bochy said. "She was proud of them."

Burns enjoyed warm relationships with many players. Aurilia, for one, telephoned her last Tuesday to check on her. "She seemed in good spirits, though I knew she was struggling," Aurilia said.

Burns was especially close to left fielder Barry Bonds, the all-time home run leader who played for the Giants from 1993-2007. Burns reportedly influenced the re-signing of Bonds for his final year. Bonds reciprocated with enduring loyalty. He had his personal trainers work with Harmon Burns in his final weeks to bring him comfort, and after hitting his 755th career homer in San Diego to tie Hank Aaron's record, he made a special effort to embrace Sue Burns, who as usual was sitting near the Giants' dugout.

Burns devoted her philanthropic pursuits to numerous causes, including the Giants Community Fund, Sequoia Hospital, St. Pius Church and the St. Francis Center.

Besides her daughters, Burns is survived by her mother, Inge Trina; her son-in-law, Rob Dean; her granddaughters, Mackenzie and Madison Dean; and her brothers, Jay, Tom, Marty and Chris Trina.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.