true-sf-giants-new-era-cap.jpgSan Francisco Giants CEO Bill Neukom announced today that he is stepping down from the position at the end of the year.

Team president and chief operating officer Larry Baer, 54, will take over the duties of CEO effective Jan. 1, 2012, the two men said in a news conference at AT&T Park today.

Neukom, 69, became the Giants’ chief executive officer in 2008 and last year oversaw the team’s first World Series win since 1954.

“It’s been more than a privilege; it’s been an honor to be at the helm of this venerable, storied franchise,” he said.

Neukom denied reports he was forced out by the Giants’ ownership group after disagreements over financial decisions, saying, “I don’t think that’s the right characterization.”

He said, “There’s a time to come into an organization and a time to leave … and this is a good time for me to leave.”

The Giants have struggled through injuries to several key players this season and are 7.5 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for the National League West division lead with 13 games to play.

Baer said, “I don’t see a lot of change” in how the team will be run under him and said, “It’s an honor to follow in Bill’s footsteps.”

Neukom is divesting his ownership stake in the team but will remain on as chairman emeritus through the 2012 season to provide advice to team officials, he said.

He also plans to teach at Stanford Law School, his alma mater, and focus on the World Justice Project, an initiative he founded in 2006 to strengthen the rule of law around the world.

The transition of positions will not be finalized until it passes a series of approvals, including by Major League Baseball.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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