Music - Livin on the fault line by the Doobie Brothers
Photographed in 1977, 1988, 1992, 1995 and 2002 using film. Photographed in 2006, 2008 and 2010 using digital.
Candlestick Park - still standing
Known as Candlestick Park 1960 - 1995 and 2008 - present, 3Com Park at Candlestick Point 1995 - 2002, San Francisco Stadium at Candlestick Point 2002 - 2004, Monster Park 2004 - 2008.
Location: 602 Jamestown Ave., San Francisco California -- Bounded by Hunters Point Expressway, Gilman Ave. and Bill Walsh Way.
When you think of football weather, you think about wind, rain, fog and cold. You also think of Soldier Field, Lambeau Field and old Cleveland Stadium. These weather conditions are brutal, and happen in summer in San Francisco. I speak about Candlestick Park. The coldest summer retreat in the United States. It is not uncommon to be at a Giants game (when they used to play here) and watch the fog literally roll in over bayview park and down thru the third base side of Candlestick. Every pop fly was an adventure due to the swirling winds that came in of Candlestick point. The legendary cold temps led the Giants to hand out Croix de Candlestick pins for anyone who lasted thru an extra inning night game. Ironically, the bad weather was mainly for Giants games, not for the 49ers. It is almost a weather season reversal, as fairly mild weather is common in September and October in San Francisco.
The New York Giants along with the Brooklyn Dodgers, relocated to the west coast for the 1958 season. The Giants had to make due with old Seals Stadium, a minor league park, until Candlestick was completed. The Giants played at Seals for two seasons, compared to the 4 years the Dodgers had to play in the mammoth Los Angeles Coliseum. Opening day for the "stick" was on April 12, 1960 and the opponents were the St. Louis Cardinals. Larry Jackson took the mound for the Cardinals and was opposed by the Giants Sad Sam Jones. A capacity crowd of 42,269 saw the Giants beat the redbirds 3-1. Jones got the first ever win at Candlestick, while Leon "daddy wags" Wagner hit the first home run. His solo shot came in the fifth inning off Jones. Apparently daddy wags liked the stick, because he hit another home run the next day, albeit in a losing cause. That same second game saw the first Giants home run. No, it wasn't hit by Willie Mays or Willie McCovey. Instead another Willie, Kirkland, hit the first ever Giants home run at Candlestick park. His blast came off the Cardinals "Vinegar Bend" Mizell. In a shape of things to come, the attendance for game two was only 17,736. Attendance would plague the Giants throughout their stay at the stick.
The second season in San Francisco saw it's first all-star game, while the 1962 season saw it's first world series. The all-star game was played on July 11, 1961 and a standing room only crowd of 44,115 showed up to the wind tunnel. All in all 18 future hall of famers played in the game. This same game was the infamous blown off the mound game. In the 9th inning, Stu Miller, who weighed all of 165 pounds was literally moved by a gust of wind. Even though he didn't necessarily get blown off the mound (as legend has it) it did result in a balk. However, the National league won in 10 innings by the score of 5-4. Twenty three years later, the all-star game returned to the stick. The National league won again 3-1 and no pitcher was blown off the mound.
The Giants won the pennant in 1962 and faced the New York Yankees in the world series. The Yankees prevailed in 7 games, winning the finale at Candlestick park. It would be another 27 years before the Giants would play another world series at Candlestick. This time it was known as the bay bridge series, as their opponents were the Oakland A's. The series was anticlimactic because of the 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake that struck at 5:04 on October 17, 1989. This forced the postponement of the series for 10 days while San Francisco and the bay area tried to recover. The A's eventually swept the Giants in 4 straight. That would be the last world series ever at Candlestick park.
The Giants were an up and down team during their stay at Candlestick. They had powerhouse teams with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal etc. The teams in the 70's were pretty forgettable. It got so bad with attendance, that the Giants almost moved to St. Petersburg Florida in 1992. Owner Bob Lurie, who in 1976, prevented the Giants from moving to Toronto, put the Giants up for sale. A group from St. Petersburg, bough the Giants, but MLB blocked the sale and found Peter Mcgowan to buy the club.
The end of the Giants era at Candlestick came in 1999. A season long celebration at the stick was planned. The curtain was drawn for good on September 30, 1999 and it was fitting that the final opponent was their longtime rivals from the south, the Los Angeles Dodgers. It didn't end the way the Giants wanted it to. A capacity crowd of 61,389 saw the Dodgers beat the Giants 9-4. The final Giants loss went to Shawn Estes, (the last Giants win was the day before by Livan Hernandez) while Jeff Williams got the win for the Dodgers. Marvin Bernard hit the last Giants home run at Candlestick in the first inning. The last home run was hit by the Dodgers Raul Mondesi in the 6th inning. The final out was also by Bernard as he grounded to Eric Karros at first base. Thus the end of the line had come to Candlestick for the Giants.
You would think the first football team to play home games at the stick would be the San Francisco 49ers. You would be wrong. The other team in the bay area, the Oakland Raiders of the old AFL, played home games there in 1960 and 1961. Due to playing musical chairs with places to play, the Raiders finally decided on Candlestick park for the last 3 games of the 1960 season. The first football game at Candlestick was on December 4, 1960. The Los Angeles Chargers (soon to be San Diego) beat the Raiders 41-17 in front of an announced crowd of 12,061. For you trivia buffs, Royce Womble caught a 3 yard TD pass from Jack Kemp in the second quarter. Those were the first points scored at Candlestick. Attendance was worse for the last two games. The Raiders played their final season at Candlestick in 1961, and attendance was not much better. The last game they played there was on December 17 and the Houston Oilers blasted the Raiders 47-16. The final Raider points were scored on an interception runback by Tom Louderback. The last offensive touchdown was a 10 yard run by Clem Daniels. The Oilers Billy Cannon had the last touchdown at Candlestick for the old AFL. Attendance was barely over 50,000 for the whole season. In 1962, the Raiders moved into their temporary home at Youell field on the campus of Laney college in Oakland. There they would remain until the Oakland Coliseum was opened in 1966.
The 49ers were playing at old Kezar stadium in Golden Gate park, and didn't move into Candlestick until the 1971 season. During 1970 and 1971, Candlestick was enclosed to add more seats for the 49ers. That didn't help much because the 49ers were not a very good football team in the 70's. Things changed when Bill Walsh used a third round draft pick to take a quarterback from Notre Dame in 1979. His name ..... Joe Montana. And the rest is history. The first home game for the 49ers too place on October 10, 1970 against the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams went on to a 20-13 victory, however the first points were scored on a 24 yard field goal by the 49ers Bruce Gossett. Ted Kwalick caught a 9 yard pass from John Brodie in the third quarter for the first 49ers touchdown at Candlestick. To this day and countless name changes for the park, the 49ers still play at the stick.
Arguably, Candlestick parks biggest claim to fame was the site of the last ever live performance by the fab four, the Beatles. Candlestick did not disappoint as the night was cold and windy. On August 29, 1966 they treated the crowd to day tripper, I feel fine, yesterday, paperback writer and others. Their last song was the old Little Richard song Long tall Sally. And with that, the fab four departed the live stage forever.
She is known by many names, north pole, cave of the winds, monster park, 3 com park. BUT to San Franciscans it will always be simply "the stick."