brewers baseball and things

doing The Stick

10 Comments

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.Candlestick-70s

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’ ufocatalog; swift mass production. But those stadiums also looked like spaceships and Candlestick  lived up to its exotic outward appearance.

bayviewYou 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.

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Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

10 thoughts on “doing The Stick

  1. Nice article.

    I was in San Francisco for a couple of days in the summer of ’77 when I was 16 years old, and naturally I went to Candlestick Park. The Giants were playing the Mets. YOU know who I was rooting for. (The Mets). It was a nice day in San Francisco, so I wore an undershirt to the game. Well, not only an undershirt. I wore a pair of dungarees, socks, underwear, and sneakers. But you get my point.

    It was a night game. I was sitting in the outfield, right behind where Terry Whitfield was playing the outfield. It had to have been right field, because Willie McCovey hit a home run near where I was sitting, and everyone knows about “the McCovey Shift”. So he must have pulled the ball. So I must have been sitting in right field.

    As is my habit in any stadium I go to, I snuck down to the good seats, eventually, and I snuck down to behind either the first or third base dugout. Nice seats. I was comfortable. For a while.

    Before I even realized it, I guess around the seventh inning, it felt like I was in Antarctica, and I was shivering like crazy.

    The Giants stunk that year (I think it was the year before that they almost moved to Toronto because the attendance at Giants games was so bad), and there weren’t all that many people at the game. One thing I noticed was, as bohemian a city as San Francisco supposedly is, the fans sure don’t act like bohemians. I remember some guys in about their twenties, thirties, or forties (when you’re 16 years old, it’s all the same to you as far as age is concerned if people are older than you) bitching and yelling and screaming real bad obscenities at Gary Thomason and how lousy he supposedly was, using language that I won’t repeat here. These guys made Phillies fans look like Girl Scouts. Actually, Thomason wasn’t all that bad a player, but these guys just wanted something to get p—ed off about, I suppose.

    Anyway, I was sorry when the Giants moved. I’ll always remember that goofy night, sitting wearing only an undershirt. I was totally unprepared and uneducated about the weird weather at Candlestick Park. Well, an undershirt and a few other articles of clothing. I remember well a 1974 Playboy Magazine that I stole from my father that featured Bridgett Bardot in honor of her 40th birthday, and she’s was wearing only an undershirt (stretched in a really sexy way). Only Bridgett Bardot could look good wearing only an undershirt. Seeing her wearing only an undershirt that freezing night at Candlestick Park would have warmed the cockles of my heart on that very freezing summer night.

    Glen

  2. Difficult for me to be nostalgic as I absolutely HATE both the Giants and the 49ers. I did, however, watch the game last night and the final play will be a 49ers pick in the end zone.

    • Well at least they got rid of astro turf in 1979 after the 9 year experiment, but you’d think they would have figured it out quicker.

    • Yeh, being nostalgic is one of those things I wish I would never do, but it happens, but not with the Giants. I could care less about them as a team, but the Stick? That’s a different beast all together. That’s my scrap book, my drinking scrap book. I’ll revisit those moments till the day I die.

  3. Didn’t a pitcher once get blown off the mound at Candlestick by a gust of wind? Who was that, or did I dream it?

    • Yes, it was Stu Miller during the 1961 All-Star Game. Or so the legend goes. Years later, Miller denied that it happened; that it was exaggerated. He WAS thrown off-balance by the wind, actually, and I guess he lost his balance. He might have, as a result, been knocked off the pitching rubber. Anyway, they called a balk on him!

      I wish that there was a film of this somewhere. Then we would know for sure, because there are so many variations of this story.

  4. You’re welcome. Actually, I just looked it up just now, and, being that he was 5’11 and weighed only 165 pounds (according to Baseball Reference, anyway), I can imagine him being knocked over by a gust of wind pretty easily.

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