I read the San Francisco Chronicle and Santa Rosa’s The Press Democrat sports sections every day for many years and of late different writers have been reflecting, reminiscing and reporting on Candlestick Park and its history as the cold, windy, wet, vulnerable cement icon of a stadium comes to the end of its existence.
Last night’s San Francisco 49ers versus Atlanta Falcons NFL game – results not available at presstime – was, unless one more postseason playoff game becomes a reality, the final sports event at Candlestick Park, which will be torn down in 2014 after a 53-year run.
Since I’m San Francisco born and forever major Giants and 49ers follower, Candlestick was the center of my big stage sports viewing world outside the radio and TV waves. I’ve witnessed plenty of games and events there, and have even had a chance to play a little baseball in the cement yard.
So I will join the many fellow Giants and 49ers fans who’ve been sharing their memories of Candlestick Park in all the Bay Area newspapers and on radio and TV.
I will make it a brief run through my Candlestick memory bank because I could write on and on in multiple columns about my ventures and adventures at the longtime home of San Francisco’s baseball Giants, who moved into their beautiful new ballpark at the turn of the century; and football 49ers, who are headed to a new stadium in Santa Clara next season.
First of all, I’m sad about Candlestick Park being dismantled. No is the answer because it shouldn’t have been built at that site in the first place, but that issue is a political hotbed of a subject that I’ve heard about through my father and uncles since I was 10 years old.
Let’s forget that political stuff. It was a bad spot, but it was the spot to see pro baseball and football and all our local sports heroes, so Candlestick Park and all its good and bad features was the place where the athletic winds would blow you to, and then around and out of the stadium, while in between the weather was sports at its best.
Now for my quick Candlestick Park memory sprint.
• Seeing it for the first time as a 10-year-old sports fanatic with my father and uncle (watching so many games with them there makes for so many wonderful memories) was like seeing the magical kingdom of my athletic dreams – it was overwhelming after watching football at quaint, but far from quiet, Kesar Stadium and baseball at Seals Stadium.
• For six years I viewed baseball only at Candlestick and saw so many incredible players, with the best of them all – my favorite and the all-around baseball player of all-time – Willie Mays summing up greatness.
• Then I witnessed my first non-sports event at Candlestick Park when, with my cousin, we saw the Beatles perform their final live performance ever. It’s a highlight of my life having viewed the concert from the upper deck for the expensive price of $4.50.
• Back to baseball, I was at Candlestick Park for the first Major League Baseball at-bat for Bobby Bonds, who instantly put himself in the record books with a grand slam to help the Giants rout the scourge from the south, the LA Dodgers, which made him an instant hometown hero.
• The 1970s arrived and so did the 49ers and I watched John Brody and his fellow gridders battle, followed by the great Niner teams of the 1980s.
• I also saw an East-West Shrine college football game at the ‘Stick, which was actually the first football game played there before the 49ers moved in.
Like I said, I could go on forever.
So, in closing, thanks for the memories you good old and windy Candlestick Park.