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Remembering San Francisco’s Candlestick Park & thoughts on the 2014 Giants

Candlestick Park

Within a few short months, Candlestick Park will no longer be there, and will be demolished. I’m still not sure what will replace it. Nothing can replace it in my heart. The baseball Giants played there from 1960 to 1999 and the football 49ers played there from 1971 to 2013. The 49ers are moving down the San Francisco peninsula to play in Santa Clara. While I am definitely more of a baseball fan than a football fan, I will always have fond memories of my time spent at the ‘Stick’ for both baseball and football. I think that I can put the number of football games I attended on one hand, but I grew up in San Francisco in the 1980’s when the 49ers won four Superbowls with Joe Montana and coach Bill Walsh. I did go to several football games there; my first one was a high school outing with several classmates to see the 49ers versus the Los Angeles Rams. It was the year before the 49ers won their first Superbowl. The Rams, quarterbacked by Vince Ferragamo, beat the 49ers soundly, but the roots of a good 49ers team were there, too.

 

During the Christmas holiday season, it’s a period of reflection of what has taken place in the past year. Aside from this period of reflection, I have also been reflecting on the time that I’ve spent at Candlestick Park. I attended many Giants games with family and friends. I’ve seen playoff wins and losses, including the Giants winning the pennant in 1989 versus the Cubs. I re-met one of my high school friends at a Giants game in either 1990 or 1991; Nick and I had lost touch after high school with our lives going in different directions and now, almost ten years later, Nick and I were able to re-connect, quite by accident. I was sitting at a Giants game in the bleachers, and there coming down the stairs was Nick. I walked up to him, and said “Nick Dellaporta?” He replied “Yes.” Nick didn’t recognize me because I had a full beard. We sat there the whole game talking, and catching up. The two friends that we had come to the game just sat next to each other and talked. Nick and I spent all nine innings talking. It was one of the few times that I went to a game and didn’t actually watch the game.

Nick also came with me to what I thought would be the last Giants game in San Francisco. In 1992, it looked like it would be the last season for the Giants in San Francisco. San Francisco Giants owner Bob Lurie was tired of losing money with the Giants at Candlestick Park, which was to be honest, a horrible baseball ballpark. Lurie and the Giants had tried to get public funding for a ballpark throughout the whole San Francisco Bay Area. The Giants had tried referendums for ballparks in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Jose; all of which failed. Lurie was getting desperate, and was going to sell the team to interests who would move the team to Tampa Bay, Florida. The idea of the Giants, MY Giants, no longer being in San Francisco was unimaginable. I remember going to the last game of the 1992 season at Candlestick Park. After the last out of the game, I couldn’t control my emotions and I just lay there sobbing on the cement bleacher stairs while my friend Nick looked on in disbelief. A member of the Giants’ Board of Directors, Peter Magowan, stepped up and was able to put together an ownership group with a vision of getting a beautiful new ballpark in San Francisco. Of course, Magowan would not have been able to do this without some assistance from an unlikely source, then Dodgers owner, Peter O’Malley, who recognized the true value of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry, and wanted to keep it on the West Coast. The Giants-Dodgers rivalry would have forever been tarnished if the Giants had moved to Tampa Bay, and Peter O’Malley had the vision to realize this.

 

I was there at Candlestick Park for Game 5 of the 1989 NLCS versus the Cubs with my two best childhood friends. We saw Will Clark demolish the Cubs by hitting .650 in the NLCS, including the game-winning single in the bottom of the eighth inning off Cubs closer Mitch Williams. I was also there for the last baseball game at Candlestick Park in 1999 versus the Dodgers. The ending ceremony was spectacular bringing out all those former Giants players who I watched at Candlestick Park; it brought back a flood of memories. I also got some dirt from the warning track in centerfield. They are now doing tours of Candlestick Park, and one of these days soon I’ll have to go on one of those tours.

 

I’m not exactly sure what they’re going to build in place of Candlestick Park. I’ve heard that they’re talking about building either a shopping mall or apartment complexes. Right now, pairs of seats from Candlestick Park are being offered for $649 for season ticket holders of the 49ers, and $749 for non-season ticket holders. I am attending a Giants game where the Giants are honoring Candlestick Park with a special promotion give-away on April 10th. Being unconventional as a person and as a Giants fan, I thought about what item I would like from Candlestick Park. It occurred to me that I would like a trough urinal from Candlestick Park; somehow, it is symbolic of my time at the ‘Stick. I would like to have it sandblasted clean, and use it as a planter box. Of course, I’m not sure if this is a real possibility.

 

I do have one last hope for Candlestick Park, and that is that after I’m dead, I want my body to be cremated, and I want my ashes scattered off of Candlestick Point. While I realize it might not be legal since Candlestick Point is a state park, it is still my hope to have my final resting place be in the deceased shadow of Candlestick Park, the sight of so much time spent in my childhood.

 

Of course, I’m not looking forward to dying anytime soon. However, I am looking forward to the 2014 baseball season. The Giants made some interesting moves—keeping Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, and Ryan Vogelsong. I’m not sure about keeping Vogelsong, but we’ll have to see what happens. He should have more rest this offseason not pitching in the World Baseball Classic, which I think puts too much strain, wear and tear on the players. The Giants also signed starting pitcher Tim Hudson, a veteran pitcher who had previously pitched for the Oakland A’s and the Atlanta Braves, and outfielder Michael Morse. Hudson replaces Barry Zito who has moved onto his post-baseball life. Michael Morse has a reputation of having a poor glove in leftfield, but he could also play some first base. Morse’s nickname is “The Beast,” and apparently, he is quite the hitter with some monster power. Morse also wants to play on a winning team, and he knows that the Giants have a reputation for winning, with World Series wins in 2010, and again in 2012. My impression of Morse is that it looks like he’s the 2014 version of Aubrey Huff, a good veteran player who provides good power and good clubhouse chemistry. The Giants will still have to fight it out in the division with the Dodgers, the Rockies and the Diamondbacks, but thank God!! Opening Day is only eighty or so days away, and Spring Training is so much closer.

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