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San Francisco Giants fans looked back with nostalgia and forward with hope Sunday at what was possibly the team's last appearance at Candlestick Park.

It was an uncharacteristically warm day at the 'Stick, where fans have shivered for 33 years, be it April, July or October.The Giants' 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds attracted a crowd of only 45,630 in the 62,000-seat park. About 60 police officers, six on horseback behind the outfield fence, lined the field in the final innings.

After the game, the Giants gathered outside their dugout to enjoy a standing ovation. Manager Roger Craig tipped his hat to fans as they chanted "Stay! Stay!"

"I'm doing everything I can to keep from crying right now," said Ann Carpenter, 57, a season-ticket holder since 1987 who sat with her family in seats overlooking first base.

The game loomed as the last at Candlestick because Giants owner Bob Lurie announced Aug. 7 that he had reached an agreement in principal to sell the Giants to a group of Florida investors for $115 million.

The Florida buyers said they intended to move the team to the Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg for the 1993 season.

But since Lurie's announcement, another group of investors led by Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn has emerged expressing interest in purchasing the team and keeping it the San Francisco Bay area.

The San Francisco investors could make a formal bid for the team by next week, so exactly what will happen to the Giants in the offseason remains uncertain.

"It will leave a real hole in our lives if they leave," said Phil Harrison, who with his sons Robbie, 10, and Adam, 6, had arguably the best seats in the house - front row, behind home plate. "We've spent our summers here."

Some fans didn't think there was much hope left, simply because the San Francisco buyers reportedly cannot match the Florida offer.

"It's a cliche, but it's all a part of business. Whoever puts up the most money will win. It's that easy," said Ron Gemple, 49, of San Francisco.

The sale of the team, to whichever investor group, must be approved by at least 10 of the National League's 14 owners and a majority of the American League's 14 owners.

Voters in the San Francisco Bay area were asked four times to approve a new stadium for the Giants, but turned all of the measures down.

Former Giants star Willie Mays was one of those taking in the game. He said hoped the Giants will stay.

"You're looking at a lot of tradition here. You're talking about Giants tradition," Mays said. "Now, if you go to Tampa, you've got to change all that. I hope they stay here, I mean, I live here."

Mike Vezzali, who sells programs at Candlestick, said business was brisk.

"I think people are panicking," Vezzali said. "There's some people who are coming up and buying five programs at a time, saying they could be collector's items.

"But I think the Giants will stay," he continued. "The San Francisco Giants' spirit is here - not in Florida."