Where would Barry be at Candlestick?

Ryan Klesko could only smile and shake his head when asked to share his memories of playing in Candlestick Park.

“You mean nightmares? I would have had to retire early [if that was my home field],” the Giants’ first baseman said before Monday’s game against the Washington Nationals at AT&T Park. “I threw a party when they shut that place down.”

Candlestick was a cold, foggy, windy and inhospitable host for hitters in San Francisco from the time it opened in 1960 until it shut after the 1999 season — for baseball purposes, anyway. It was also the stadium Barry Bonds called home for seven years, a fact Klesko (who played in the park as a visitor with the Atlanta Braves) thinks only adds to the his stature as perhaps the greatest home run hitter ever to play the game. Bonds has 755 career homers — tied with Hank Aaron for the most in major-league history — despite playing 15 years in the sometimes-nasty San Francisco weather, including seven at Candlestick.

“When you look at what Barry’s done, he should be close to 900 or 1,000 homers if he would have played in a better hitter’s park,” Klesko said. “And I think anyone who’s ever played the game knows that.”

Bonds has hit 296 of his home runs in San Francisco, with 156 at AT&T Park since it opened in 2000 — including 34 of the Giants’ 44 splash hits into McCovey Cove. The 140 he hit at The Stick are especially impressive to Mike Krukow, San Francisco’s current TV and radio broadcaster who pitched seven years at Candlestick for the Giants.

“If you were to design the most pitcher-friendly place in history, you would start with Candlestick,” said Krukow, who went 20-9 for San Francisco in 1986. “Because it was the worst, most screwed-up place to try and hit.”

It was not always the most comfortable place to watch a game either. Florida Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis grew up in Alameda as a Bonds fan and said he didn’t recall anything specific about seeing games at Candlestick — only the elements.

“I just remember being freezing,” Willis said. “I don’t think the sun ever got to the bleachers in right field.”

Perhaps the only time the sun did shine on Candlestick was the 1957 morning that then-Mayor George Christopher showed New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham around Candlestick Point as a prospective stadium site for when the team moved west. It was enough to sell Stoneham, who soon discovered the area to be one of the coolest, breeziest locales in The City. In fact, had Bonds’ godfather, Willie Mays, not played more than 12 years at Candlestick Park, Bonds could be chasing “The Say Hey Kid” for the all-time mark. Mays still managed to hit 660 career home runs, fourth-most in history.

“I’ve been saying all along that anyone who played at this level knows just how hard it is to do what [Bonds has] done at these ballparks,” Krukow said. “That’s gotta be his greatest legacy.”


See a slideshow of Bonds' historic homerun.

Read the related story about Barry Bonds' historic homer, and add your voice to the examiNation SF question of the day, about the impact of setting the home run record on Bonds' home field.

How many HRs did Candlestick rob from Bonds?

Share your comments below.

Other Sportssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pelosi called for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
Feds seeking woman whose ex says she stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during Capitol riot

Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer Federal authorities have obtained an arrest warrant… Continue reading

Most Read