Babies are so cute and brand new, and life is great, but when a baby screams, it sounds like an intuitive forecast of arteries, kidneys, and what not succumbing to mother nature’s tragic course; from the crib to the casket we all must go. Grinch aside, we do have our moments.
A new baseball stadium endures a similar spark and fizzle. Senior citizens revive. Children have new heroes. Young adults enjoy a potent distraction. And everyone ignores death or in stadium speak; implosion. But after the ribbon cutting ceremony or circumcision splice, the death ticker drops one sand grain after another. There’s no stopping the pendulum.
And so now it’s Candlestick Park’s turn. Home to the San Francisco baseball Giants since April 12, 1960 and football 49ers since the 1971 season, it will soon suffer a violent death. I enjoy the raw power of dynamite buckling a stadium under its own weight, vanishing into nuclear bomb cumulumba whatever clouds. It’s perverse and gets my fists clenching. I scream oh yeh, but when the rush fades, there’s a loud and painful silence.
Candlestick is a strange bird because most fans are thinking “good riddance” right about now. The Stick was cold, windy, and completely out of the way. Did I mention foggy? The complaints are all legit, but not everyone likes air tight, streamlined, symmetrical stadiums with perfectly manicured grass seldom exposing any weaknesses. Yuk.
Candlestick Park was situated in Hunter’s Point, South San Francisco-a not so great neighborhood to take a Sunday stroll. I remember wandering the upper and lower levels to make sure its seats were really that orange. The Giants played their last game there in 1999 and yeh the new AT &T Park had to be built and yeh it’s perfectly situated south of Market Street-downtown and yeh right field empties into the Bay, and yeh and yeh, but Candlestick Park was some kind of something.
I liked sitting on the first base side. You could see Bay View Hill jetting above the stadium’s rim. The Stick was the first stadium to use re-enforced concrete and yeh, Richie Hebner said he never knew where he was playing in the 1970’s because Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis all looked the same.
Those concrete monsters were often called concrete donuts or cookie cutters for the same reason America’s suburbia was designed from a Sear’s Roebucks’ catalog; swift mass production. But those stadiums also looked like spaceships and Candlestick lived up to its exotic outward appearance.
You knew exactly where you were when inside. You were outside, in the elements. There was no air conditioning/heat. The wind swirled in wicked San Francisco gusts. A few nights under that city’s great sky and you felt very sincere performing a sun dance way before dawn.
Hot dog wrappers tumble weeded across the infield and kept tumbling all the way to the outfield wall where they sat in clusters like a pile of dead leaves. It was glorious.
There was no BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stop for Candlestick. You had to take a bus through those Bayview Hills and ask how blue is the San Francisco Bay? That water stretching to the cranes lining the Oakland shore and then south to who knows where? I could never say it felt like Greece. I’ve never been there, but poets said it anyway. I didn’t doubt them.
My friend and I used to make our own tailgate parties in the parking lot sipping screwy delights (Smirnoff plus sunny delight ). We braved a few closed doors around the stadium’s exterior. They were always locked, except that one memorable day.
There we were inside the concession zone. Peanuts and popcorn, beer and hot dogs. The vendors loading up their wares. We could not be like Romans in Rome. We lacked a food service hat and uniform., yet no one said a damn thing, so we followed a vendor through a different door and there we were inside the stadium.
The Giants game was about to begin and we had just moseyed into The Stick. I never felt more like James Brown’s in all my life or maybe it was the Mamas and Papas.