SAN FRANCISCO – Paul McCartney will wind up his latest U.S. tour with a concert here billed as the “Farewell to Candlestick” on Aug. 14. The demolition of the stadium that served as the home of the Giants from 1960 through 1999 and of the 49ers from 1971 through 2013 is not expected to take place until next year.
I’ve said that Candlestick Park is my favorite stadium for this reason: It’s the only one that saved my life.
Many of us sportswriters covering the 1989 World Series were in a press area in the top deck when the earthquake struck Oct. 17 before the scheduled start of Game 3. It was a rocking way to celebrate my 44th birthday, and we all got out of this sturdy ballpark alive.
That wasn’t the first disaster in the calendar year of 1989 that I witnessed at Candlestick. A Vikings team of considerable hope was there for a second-round playoff game on New Year’s Day. A year earlier, Jerry Burns’ backdoor Vikings had come into Candlestick, throttled the 49ers 36-24 and caused Joe Montana to be booed and benched.
In the playoff rematch, Montana was terrific and the 49ers humbled the Vikings 34-9. In the closing moments, I saw George Latimer — the gregarious Minnesota politician — sitting in the first row behind the end zone.
“What did you think, sir?” I asked.
I still can see George using the thumb and index finger of his right hand to squeeze his nose to block the odor.
I only had heard of the legend of the cold wind that would overtake Candlestick for summer night games. In 1987, I was in Oakland to cover the All-Star Game, and stayed over to finally see a midseason game at Candlestick.
The Cubs’ Jamie Moyer beat the Giants’ ill-fated Dave Dravecky 4-1. And the cold wind was not legend; it was fact.
On July 16, 1987, there was enough late-afternoon sun that a fall-weight jacket seemed like overkill as we entered the ballpark. By midgame, the gale called “The Hawk” was so mighty that a parka couldn’t have done the job.
Goodbye, Candlestick, you lifesaver.