The Candlestick Park era in San Francisco has been filled with historic moments, iconic athletes, ungodly traffic issues and more wind than a January day in Chicago.
I’ve been fortunate enough to witness my fair share of events at the Stick, both as a fan growing up and as a member of the media.
I was there in 1991 for a 49ers-Detroit Lions preseason game when the Oakland Hills were on fire across the Bay. I remember huge chunks of ash — literally burnt pieces of paper you could still see handwriting on — falling on us in our seats during the game. After the game in the parking lot, our car was covered in so much ash it looked like a snowstorm had blown through.
I covered the 2012 playoff game between the 49ers and New Orleans Saints. The electricity from the crowd throughout the game — and in particular the sound that emanated from the 65,000-plus people when Alex Smith hit Vernon Davis for the eventual winning score with nine seconds remaining — has left a lasting impression.
But for me, the most memorable experience came when I was 8 years old, and I have my dad to thank for it.
At 5 a.m. Oct. 9, 1989, my dad received a call from a family friend. He had acquired two tickets to Game 5 of the NL Championship Series between the Giants and Chicago Cubs and asked my dad to go with him. To a sports fan, these were more valuable than a golden ticket from Willy Wonka.
The Giants led the NLCS 3-1 and needed just one more win to secure their first trip to the World Series since 1962. A no-brainer to go, right? Call in sick and watch the magic unfold.
Well, not quite. My dad knew a love of sports has coursed through my veins since birth. I was the kid who snuck a radio into bed at age 7 to listen to KNBR. So my dad told our family friend, “Why don’t you take my son instead?”
Instead of a typical Monday at school, I was whisked off to witness history.
We sat in the upper deck in right field — but to me, it might as well have been two rows behind home plate.
With the score 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Will Clark came up to bat and the Cubs brought in closer Mitch Williams and his mullet in all its glory.
“The Thrill” got down in the count before lacing a 1-2 pitch up the middle off “Wild Thing” to put the Giants in front 3-1. Despite giving up a run in the ninth, Steve “Bedrock” Bedrosian closed it out for the Giants and pandemonium ensued.
Twenty-four years later, I can still remember being in the midst of one of the biggest parties the Bay Area has ever seen. The Giants eventually went on to lose to the A’s in the Bay Bridge-earthquake World Series.
It was one of the most memorable autumns in Bay Area sports history, and Candlestick Park was the backdrop for much of it. And I was smack dab in the middle of it. All thanks to my dad.