As a valley kid from Tracy who wore 49ers and Giants pride on his sleeves, Candlestick Park has always been — and will always be — more than a concrete monstrosity resting near San Francisco Bay.
But let’s not fool ourselves: Calling it a monstrosity is being nice — almost too nice. Regardless, Candlestick is the crown jewel of Bay Area sports fandom. It’s the grass that carried the likes of Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Jerry Rice and Joe Montana. It’s where “The Catch” took place. It’s where the 49ers and Giants stole our hearts and broke them at the same time.
Trying to find just one memory was tough. Even when dynamite sends the stadium into the afterlife, two images will always stick in my head.
As a young kid, my family would rarely enter San Francisco from the south end via U.S. Highway 101. So when we did, those trips passing the aging stadium were always filled with tantalizing excitement.
I had to be by the window, my eyes never letting the stadium go. Maybe I would see a player (I never did). That’s where my sports teams took the field. It seemed like this mystical, rusting monument.
During every one of those trips up 101, I relished the five minutes between the stadium appearing in the distance then fading into the hills.
But as with most people who had the opportunity to watch a game inside Candlestick, the weather will always be the everlasting memory.
Sure, I remember my first football and baseball games — watching the aging Dan Marino and Steve Young battle for one quarter in an NFL preseason game, and a Giants victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers — but the details of both have mostly faded. What I remember most is the brisk and startling cold.
The moderate weather famous in most of San Francisco was nowhere to be seen, regardless of whether it was a day game in the summer or a late-afternoon 49ers game. It was always cold and windy. You could never bring just one sweatshirt. And blankets were a must.
In the end, it was always worth it because there really is no place like Candlestick and all its faults.