I f the asterisk didn’t play such a nasty role in baseball lore, the 1989 World Series would deserve one. None of its four baseball games were any good. More to the point, they weren’t necessary. The Series was shoved aside when a powerful earthquake — a “7,” in San Francisco lingo — ripped through the city on October 17, 1989, about 20 minutes before the scheduled start of Game 3. Suddenly, baseball felt like an interloper. Players were driving down darkened streets in their uniforms; Dave Stewart was peering at a pancaked freeway in Oakland; and Fay Vincent was convening candlelit meetings to decide when, and if, the Series should restart.
But by starting our story a few hours before the quake, it’s possible to see the Battle of the Bay as something other than the Earthquake Series. In the late afternoon of October 17, more than 62,000 people had crowded into Candlestick Park, which one sportswriter described as a “rotting whorehouse of a ballpark.” Giants fans were pumped. The team hadn’t played a Series game since Richardson caught McCovey’s line drive to end the heartbreak of ’62.
Their opponent was the Oakland A’s. In an inversion of the usual Bay Area hierarchy, Oakland was the chest-thumping favorite. (In the current era of sewage-filled dugouts, it’s worth remembering that the A’s had the nicer stadium then, too.)
The talk around Candlestick that day concerned small stuff. Was Dave Parker really safe at second in Game 2? Would Bob Welch be scratched from his start because of an injury he acquired in BP? Did Will Clark have tonsillitis?
History doesn’t record any fan that Tuesday arriving with a copy of the Gilroy Dispatch, a newspaper from a town 80 miles southeast of San Francisco. If they had, they might have noticed an alarming headline. A geologist had studied the conditions at the time of the Bay Area Series and was predicting terror.
Jim Berkland, geologist: I said the World Series quake was coming. I said it would be a 6.5 to 7. I had 6.5 to 7 because that’s what happened in 1865, and the conditions were very similar. I had all of these conjecture-y things: the tides, the whales, the homing pigeons, the hot springs, the geyser. I had all of that. The Mercury News no longer wanted to carry my predictions because they told me they were bad for business. So the Gilroy Dispatch printed it on Friday, the 13th of October.
Three Hours Until the Earthquake
Candy Maldonado, Giants outfielder: It was a beautiful day. It was one of the most beautiful days in the Bay Area.
Matt Williams, Giants third baseman: The weather was unusually warm.
Ray Ratto, Giants beat writer, San Francisco Chronicle: People said it was earthquake weather, kind of humid. But you throw that off.
Noah Graham, fan, lower deck: I remember driving from Santa Cruz to the city. I had my Nintendo Game Boy, and I was playing baseball all the way. I was so jazzed to be going to a World Series game.
Matt Kettmann, fan, lower deck: I was only 12. My uncle was a friend of — or a friend-of-a-friend of — [Giants owner] Bob Lurie’s.
George Thurlow, fan, upper deck: I was in Section 29, Box 2A, Seat 3. That was the upper deck, right by the foul pole.
Dave Guzzetti, fan, upper deck: I was actually in the last row in center field.
Wally Haas, A’s owner: I don’t like sitting down in the stands, normally. Then I have to behave. I convinced [A’s general manager] Sandy Alderson that we should get a box somewhere upstairs where no one could see us.
Timothy Busfield, actor: We were in a plexiglass booth at the top of the stadium with all the announcers and everybody. I rode up in the elevator with Johnny Bench and Willie McCovey. They were having a conversation about Willie Mays. From what Bench said and what McCovey said, Mays didn’t want to come that day. He was spooked by the weather, by the stillness and the heat. He didn’t like the air.
Tim McCarver, analyst, ABC: I remember getting sick at Candlestick at around three, after our managers’ meetings. I felt just awful. I don’t know that I had any sense of impending doom at 5:04 that October 17, but I’ve often thought about that.
Will Clark, Giants first baseman: You get down in the two-nothing hole, but when you come back home, you’re rejuvenated, you have a new energy, and you know your 10th man is behind you.
Tony La Russa, A’s manager: The year before, we had the huge disappointment of getting beat by the Dodgers. Literally from the first day of spring training, we were on a mission to get back and win.
Sandy Alderson, A’s general manager: I’m not saying we wanted it more than the Giants. I don’t believe that’s the case. But we had fresh memory of what it meant to lose.
Mike Moore, A’s starting pitcher: I heard a lot of people compare us to the Raiders. I thought it was a pretty good comparison. People loved to hate us.
Dennis Eckersley, A’s closer: We were supposed to win. You know what I mean? We had a team not necessarily of cocky guys, but a lot of confident guys. Rickey and the Bash Brothers doing their thing. Me pointing at batters and shit like that. I could see how it would be interpreted.
Dave Parker, A’s designated hitter: We had one of the best teams that had ever played.
The Giants were a team that did everything pretty well. The staff included “Big Daddy” Rick Reuschel, Scott Garrelts, and Don Robinson. The lineup was led by Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell. Maybe not “led” in Mitchell’s case — as he once declared, “I’m no leader. I’m just Kevin.”
Pat Gallagher, Giants senior vice-president: We were sort of fighting for respectability. The team had almost moved a few times. We went to the playoffs in ’87 in St. Louis, and it went seven games, but we got beat. There was this dark cloud over everybody’s head that had anything to do with the Giants.
Duffy Jennings, Giants PR man: I think probably the one thing a lot of Giants people couldn’t say out loud was, “Why did it have to be Oakland?” We waited 27 years. Then we had to share that glory and attention with a team in the same market.
Corey Busch, Giants executive vice-president: It was a big deal in the Bay Area. It was great. But it was not the kind of marquee matchup that networks like for the World Series.
Mark McGwire, A’s first baseman: It was the Battle of the Bay. It was one of those things that was just really cool. Like here we were in a World Series, and there was no airplane to fly to another city. Just get on a bus and drive five minutes.
Andy Dolich, A’s vice-president: We talked to United about flying the team from Oakland to San Francisco in a 747. It fell apart when the head of marketing for United, who wasn’t a big baseball fan, said, “The team has to be wearing its uniforms when it comes off the plane.” I wasn’t even going to take that to La Russa.
Gallagher: We had to play in Candlestick, the worst ballpark in the major leagues. That ballpark was a series of stupid mistakes. It really was. Who threw out the first ball on Opening Day? Richard Nixon!
Jorge Costa, Giants vice-president of stadium operations: There was an evacuation plan. In fact, the Giants used to have an evacuation video that showed on the JumboTron board prior to the start of every game.
Larry Gatlin, lead singer, the Gatlin Brothers: We were invited by Commissioner [Fay] Vincent to come to San Francisco and sing the national anthem. My brother Steve was sick as a dog. I asked the Giants if they had the team doctor who could come see what was wrong with Steve. The doctor came to the limo, looked in the door, and said, “He’s got the flu.” It was that quick. We walked in from the center-field door, but they took Steve in a golf cart because he was too sick to walk. He was just going to be able to stand up for one minute and sing the low part.
Al Rosen, Giants general manager: I was up in my box. My wife and I had some guests including Bill Walsh, the famous football coach, and Shecky Greene, the comedian.
Mackie Shillstone, Giants conditioning consultant: Who were the only three people in the Giants locker room when the quake hit? Me; Mark Letendre, the athletic trainer; and Don Robinson, the starting pitcher. The Caveman.
Don “Caveman” Robinson, Giants starting pitcher: We’re sitting in front of my locker. They were taping my knee up because I’d had cortisone shots three or four days before that. I was going to go down and start warming up.
Mark Letendre: We were fitting him for the knee brace. It was a routine thing for Don.
Claire Isaacs Wahrhaftig, fan, upper deck: We had the worst seats in all Candlestick Park. In Section 53, where you couldn’t read the JumboTron, we were in the last row, 22 rows up. My husband asks, “Would you like something to drink?” I said, “I’d really like a beer.” He disappears. It’s a little after five. It’s still quite light out.
Gatlin: I had just waved up to Johnny Bench. He was doing radio in the top of Candlestick.
Curt Gowdy Jr., producer, ABC: We decided that Joe Morgan would do a pregame interview with Willie Mays. In our production meeting, there was some question of whether Willie was going to show up. I said to Joe, “You got to do your best, because it would be great to have Willie there.” Sure enough, at 5:02, I’m looking at our monitor from the low, first-base camera, and there comes Willie into the picture with Joe.
John Crayton, pilot, Goodyear blimp: We were just coming up on the opening shot. We had rehearsed it. The director was counting it down.
George Thurlow, fan, upper deck: At 5:02, I took a picture of the scoreboard.
Eckersley: I was in the bathroom. I was combing my hair, man. I was standing next to Dave Parker.
Will Clark: I had just got through running sprints to center field.
Terry Kennedy, Giants catcher: My brother was a scout for the Giants. Just a minute before the earthquake, he said all the cops’ horses went crazy. They could feel it before it happened.
Ken Oberkfell, Giants utility infielder: I was sitting in the dugout and I started feeling light-headed. I was queasy in my stomach. I’m thinking, I shouldn’t be nervous. This is my second World Series.
Noah Graham, fan, lower deck: I kind of started to feel sick. I look up and see my mom’s got the same look on her face.
Dave Guzzetti, fan, upper deck: I had bought a T-shirt that said “Bay Area World Series” or whatever. I ran into a friend from high school I hadn’t seen in 20 years. I left him and I had bought the T-shirt, and was walking to my seat. That’s when I noticed the undulating sidewalks.
Will Clark: It was a big roar, and it almost sounded like those F-15s flying over the stadium.
Alderson: I thought it was the fans on the third deck stomping their feet.
Jose Canseco, A’s outfielder: I thought it was one of my migraines.1
From the St. Petersburg Times, October 3, 1999.
Gatlin: I’m standing in the coach’s box with Mike Lupica. We’re just bullshitting. A 747 comes right over Candlestick Park. The ground starts shaking. Lupy looks at me and says, “A 747 ain’t supposed to make the ground shake like that.” I said, “That ain’t a 747. We’re in one!”
Noah Graham, fan, lower deck: I remember seeing the right-field foul pole and it’s bouncing back and forth, like a needle on a metronome.
Busch: I was absolutely convinced we were going to die.
Maldonado: It felt like if you’re surfing, like you’re in a wave, and I felt myself elevating.
Roger Craig, Giants manager: I was in my office when the walls started shaking. I heard Don Robinson hollering, “Earthquake! Earthquake!” I told everybody to run out to the parking lot. It was asphalt and it was just rolling.
Scott Garrelts, Giants starting pitcher: I saw cars kind of bumping each other.
Dave Henderson: I’m from California, Dos Palos, right below San Jose. The earthquake hit and I said, “Wow, it’s a quake. No big deal.” It was probably my 10th earthquake. Then the lights went off in the clubhouse. Then dust started coming through the vents. That’s when I said, “Oh, this is a real earthquake.”
Eckersley: You’re in the clubhouse. You’re underneath all that. It’s like iron screeching. Like there’s a train coming through the door. You knew. The auxiliary lights hadn’t even come on yet and I was yelling, “Earthquake!” Dave Parker shit his pants, man.
Mike LaCoss, Giants starting pitcher: Jeff Brantley and I had been the last two out of the Giants clubhouse. If you’re in the Giants locker room, you have to go into this tunnel. It’s like one minute till the introductions, and we didn’t want to be late. Brantley was behind me, and in this startled voice, he says, “What is that?! What is that?!”
Jeff Brantley, Giants reliever: He had this goofy look on his face and said, “That’s an earthquake!” At that point, the tunnel began to turn, left-right, left-right, kind of like those fun houses at the fair. It’s supposed to have emergency lights in it, but nothing came on. It’s pitch-black, and all we could see was the very end of the dugout.
LaCoss: I thought I was getting food poisoning. I thought I was gonna puke. Jeff said, “What are we gonna do?!” I said, “Keep runnin’, man!”
Brantley: We went out to the dugout and most of the other guys are out there. They’re saying, “Let’s get out in the center of the field!” We thought, If the stadium collapses, and if we’re in the center, we’re least likely to get hit.
Mike Krukow, Giants starting pitcher: I was in the middle of the field, in a pretty good spot. If I was going to run anywhere, it would probably be to where I was standing.
Robinson: There was a big pillar in front of my locker going back and forth like rubber.
Shillstone: I said to Robinson, “You fatass, you got this whole place shaking!”
Ron Schueler, A’s assistant general manager: There was a Miller Lite clock in the middle of the clubhouse. It was probably 4 feet by 4 feet and heavy. [The earthquake] just blew it out of the wall.
Al Clark, home plate umpire: The walls of Candlestick’s dressing room are made of cinder block, and as the quake came through, the cinder block didn’t shake. It actually waved. It was a fearsome situation. Our first thought was to get the hell out of there, and all of us — Vic Voltaggio, Rich Garcia, Eric Gregg — we got up and ran out onto the field in time to see the wave go through the field.
Alderson: I got my son and wife in the door frame of the suite.
Busfield: I was with my best friend [from] growing up. We’ve been to a million World Series together. He leaped up and got in the door frame. I said, “Dude, everybody’s below us. I wouldn’t worry about things falling on your head. We’re the thing that’s gonna fall.”
Don Fehr, executive director, Major League Baseball Players Association: I was in a pay phone alcove off the lower deck on the first-base side. I was speaking to my wife on the phone when it hit. Of course, the call was cut off.
Oberkfell: It almost felt like the earth was going to open up and suck you in.
Phil Bronstein, reporter, San Francisco Examiner: I was a foreign correspondent. I had just come back from El Salvador. I was actually in the Chronicle-Examiner building when the earthquake hit. The ground started rocking and rolling. I was thinking, I get back from El Salvador and this happens?
Mike Gay, chief engineer of operations, Candlestick Park: Right when the earthquake hit, I was in the boiler room. The lights went out. The room is shaking and rolling. Both our backup systems are dead. Now we’re on generator power. You hear the pumps, and then kind of oooooooohhhh. It was hot and steamy and dark.
Jennings: The earthquake’s epicenter was in Santa Cruz. When this thing came, it was very audible and visible and noticeable as coming out of right field, which faces south. It hit the ballpark and made waves in the outfield. That’s where the famous Mike Krukow quote about a 600-pound gopher comes from2 If you were standing where I was standing, you could see it come through the outfield, keep going through the infield, and then continue into downtown San Francisco.
“And, uh, when this thing started to come, you felt it coming, and then it felt like, about a 600-pound gopher going underneath your feet at 43 mph, because it happened so fast, the roll happened so fast that you kind of braced yourself and went down, because you were going to get knocked down.”
Bob Ley, anchor, ESPN: People ask me how long it lasted. I say it lasted long enough to start a Hail Mary but not long enough to finish it.
Brett Butler, Giants outfielder: My brother was in the upper deck. He’d gotten up to get a hot dog. When he came back, part of the roof had fallen in his seat.
George Vecsey, columnist, New York Times: There was like a lip, an overhang on the upper deck — it was like just-poured cement. I thought, Gee, if that breaks loose it’s going to slide down and decapitate the whole section.
McCarver: I was on the air coming out of the replay from Dave Parker in Game 2, where he had hit a double off the top of the wall in Oakland at the Coliseum and kind of belly flopped into second base.
Al Michaels, announcer, ABC: I’m going to take it back from Tim and transition to Jim Palmer. When Tim is ready to hand it back to me, there’s a rumbling and a fairly loud noise. I remember thinking just for a second that we’re going to get pitched out — pitched out of the mezzanine and into the lower deck.
Gowdy Jr.: What I had heard was like a subway running under our production truck. It was a loud roar under the ground, and my director, Craig Janoff, and I looked at each other. Suddenly, our truck started tilting forward. Then all the monitors, everything just went to black.
Michaels: I say, “We’re having an earthquake!” But my word gets chopped. It sounds like I’m saying, “earth-kuh.”
Gowdy Jr.: People didn’t hear it. They saw their picture go to black and then the old ABC “stand by” slide. And then, out of nowhere, Roseanne appears. ABC started showing a rerun of Roseanne and, later, The Wonder Years.
Michaels: When I knew we were off the air, I wound up picking up a hard-line phone. I called Los Angeles, the office of Bob Iger. He said, “What are you doing on the phone?” I said, “I can’t talk to anybody else. What do you know?”
In the stands, there was little screaming. Few people ran for the exits. In fact, they began to cheer.
LaCoss: I’ll never forget the noise. After I opened the door to the dugout, 60,000 people were standing on their feet.
Williams: Sixty thousand–plus people started chanting, “We will, we will, rock you!”
Gatlin: I guess ’cause they realized none of them were dead.
Costa: Some fan writes on a sign, “If you think that’s something, wait until the Giants come to bat.” I still remember that.
Claire Isaacs Wahrhaftig, fan, upper deck: I ran into my husband and he said, “I got your beer!” A piece of concrete had fallen in it.
Mark Purdy, columnist, San Jose Mercury-News: The players are looking up in the stands. I’m thinking, What are they looking for? Then it hits me: their families.
Lance Blankenship, A’s utility player: The family section was under a big overhang, under the second deck.
Krukow: I had four children and a pregnant wife who was going to be giving birth to a child in a month and a half. The kids were all underneath the stadium in the children’s nursery, and there was no electricity in the ballpark.
Letendre: Most of my medical attention was devoted to my father. He had not a heart attack but an angina attack. He forgot to take his nitroglycerin.
Bob Lurie, Giants owner: Some of the players were really shaken, especially the A’s.
Will Clark: I know that for the A’s, Terry Steinbach’s wife was really, really emotional.
Brantley: Here she is in just a beautiful dress — all the girls dressed up for the games, as most wives do in the playoffs. She reminded you of a little girl jumping up into her daddy’s arms.
Gallagher: Candlestick’s known for its wind. So we had dragon-like windsocks that were flying from the light towers. A couple of them got tangled up. So some poor soul had to climb to the top of one of the light towers. Then the earthquake hit.
Benjy Young, stagehand, Local 16: Me and one other guy, we were taking turns going up right before the World Series trying to untangle these things. I was untangling the last one, and batting practice is going on. You wouldn’t believe how cool it was to be up in the towers while the batting practice was happening. It was really hard to continue my work and not just sit there and watch. So I’m leaning out, untangling the last one. I had forgotten to put my safety belt on. I wasn’t locked in. Then the earthquake hit, and I’m looking straight down. You’re like watching this thing move, looking down from a pole bending like spaghetti, and thinking, Oh my god. I’m saying my good-byes. Then I vomit, and that was really strange because I felt like I was vomiting on everybody in the stadium. I’m waiting all these years for someone to tell me that “I had my favorite Hawaiian shirt on, and I know that was you.” I go down the ladder as fast as I can.
Larry Stewart, reporter, Los Angeles Times: I got there just as he got to the ground. He’s got long hair, probably 40ish. He was almost white. He said, “I was hanging on for dear life. I thought I was dead.”
Busfield: You started to see the smoke coming from the city, especially up top where we were, up at the top of Candlestick.
Ratto: People had radios, and you could hear tidbits of the news broadcasts. “The Bay Bridge has collapsed … the fires in the Marina.” This was about five minutes after the earthquake. I was going, “Holy crap, the rest of the world has blown up.”
McGwire: We thought the whole place was burning up like in 1906.
George Thurlow, fan, upper deck: The mood of the crowd was jubilant and excited and Wow, that was cool until the first radio announcements began. The first one that I have written down was, “The Bay Bridge is down.”
Dolich: They didn’t say a piece collapsed. It was, “The Bay Bridge collapsed.” You can only think, Oh my god, this is a horror movie coming true.
Hildy Bernstein, fan, Noah Graham’s mom: Here I am with my 10-year-old son. I’m feeling very motherly. I have to turn to my son and say, “We have to walk out of here right now.”
Noah Graham, fan, lower deck: I’m like, “Mom, you are crazy? This is the World Series.” But she was adamant about it. We just bolted.
Eckersley: I kept thinking, OK, everybody relax. OK, let’s play. It sounds awful, me even saying it. But that was my thinking. Everybody in a crisis reacts differently.
Ley: We make our way downstairs. At that point, people are still being led into the stadium. The cops haven’t stopped it. Nobody knows what’s going on.
Gallagher: We had no emergency power. We had no way to talk to people. The emergency preparedness, if you will, was really sorely lacking.
Letendre: Everything was down except for one land line in the press box of Candlestick Park.
Bob Cohn, reporter, Arizona Republic: I go to the press room. I have one phone call. Rather than call my wife — my then-wife — I call the copy desk. Of course.
Murray Chass, reporter, New York Times: I felt I had to do my job. The lights were out in the press box, but there was light outside. So I went out of the press box to read some notes, and then went back to the phone to dictate. I did this several times until I dictated everything I had.
Ley: Baseball gave us a disadvantageous location for our set and our trucks, way out in center field by the parking lot. Because of that, we had to be on generator power. So what had been a marvelous pain in the ass was suddenly a blessing. Also, we had two functioning telephone lines. We gave the police one and kept the other to communicate with Connecticut.
Butler: My biggest concern was my children. We had a babysitter watching them. We couldn’t get any calls out and didn’t know what was going on. We’re just thinking, Did she panic? Take the kids? Leave our kids?
Gallagher: Bart Giamatti had passed away about a month before. It was Fay Vincent’s first World Series as commissioner. He was pretty much white as a sheet.
Gay: I finally got Jorge Costa on the radio. Jorge says, “We have to meet on the field with Fay Vincent.” We met him by home plate. Then we wandered over to the Giants bullpen area, on the mound.
Costa: Mike Gay tells us, “We have power, but not enough power to play the game. We have no idea if the power is going to be restored.” That ended up driving the decision.
Fay Vincent, commissioner of baseball: Commander Isiah Nelson of the San Francisco police department arrived … [he said] “I am in charge of the police detail here. We have a serious situation in this city now. There has been an enormous earthquake, and we have decisions to make and we have to make them fast. You are in charge here.” “No, Commander,” I said. “You are in charge. Whatever you advise me to do, we will do.”3
Vincent quotes from The Last Commissioner: A Baseball Valentine.
Costa: The decision is made to have a police car drive around the field and repeat a message on the car’s PA. We told them the game had been postponed due to a temporary power disruption. We never mentioned the word “earthquake.”
Gallagher: You know what worked? When we went and had the ground crew pull the bases off the field. We had all the people who brought out balloons walk off on the right-field line. We had all the players and their families walk off the field. Most people at that point put two and two together and thought, I don’t think this game is gonna happen.
Chris Myers, reporter, ESPN: This was not people pushing and shoving and stepping over each other to get out. It was very orderly. It was like those fire drills in schools.
Hildy Bernstein, fan, Noah Graham’s mom: We were one of the first 20 people out of Candlestick. All there was was an emergency. “They just closed the 101 … they just closed the 280 … they just closed the 17.” We were just in front of all those closures. We stopped at the beach. My son has to pee. There’s a state patrolman there with a big megaphone. He says, “Get back in your car, there’s a tsunami watch.” I’m like, Tsunami watch?!
Art Agnos, mayor of San Francisco: The first thing I did was get in an FBI helicopter in order to get a sense of what was going on. From the air, I could see that the entire city was blacked out except for a couple of fires, with the worst one being in the Marina. That one got a lot of attention in the mass media, and that’s the only time I really felt fear, because of how large it was.
Oberkfell: We got flashlights to go into the clubhouse, and we at least grabbed our clothes. Most people went home with their jerseys on.
Craig: Some fellow saw me in my uniform and said, “Mr. Craig, how about a shot of wine?” I said, “No, I have to get out of here.” But I took a little mini-sip and gave the bottle back to him.
Purdy: I remember interviewing Robby Thompson, the Giants second baseman, a really good guy. Three fans come up to Robby and ask, “Can I have your autograph?” This big disaster has just happened. Robby looks at ’em like, Really? Really?
Busfield: As I left, a guy came up to me with a chunk of cement and had me sign it. It was the size of, like, a football helmet.
Costa: You have 60,000 people in a stadium on a cul-de-sac isolated on a peninsula. You still have the pregame traffic coming in, and now you have to get that flipped around for people to get out. That’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in a pro sports stadium.
Ron Hassey, A’s catcher: They were taking us back in buses to Oakland.
Parker: Nobody bothered to put on their civilian clothes. We all rolled home in our uniforms.
Eckersley: We’re listening to the radio. Every time they’d say something, the wives would all gasp. It was over and over, this gasping. Everybody was taking it in more and more.
Dolich: I made a decision, without being a geophysicist, that we’re not going over any bridges. We’re going on land, down to San Jose and back up to Oakland.
Rick Honeycutt, A’s relief pitcher: That’s when some of the panic set in.
Robinson: Bob Lurie came in and told us, “I got a tent out in the parking lot. I have a bunch of stuff to eat and drink. You can go there till the traffic lets up.”
Rosen: We just united everyone that was there. The party went on until about eleven o’clock or midnight.
LaCoss: The Reuschels, the Brenlys, the Downses, all of us were out in that parking lot. The wives go to the hospitality tent and, lo and behold, there’s all the food. They bring back all the nice trays of cold cuts and vegetables and dip. Here we are having our own tailgate. I think somebody found a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. I had the real nice Motorola bag phone that plugged into the cigarette lighter. I’ve been sitting in my truck hitting the “send” button. I get a real fast busy signal. All of a sudden, a call went through and I went, “Yeah!” Everybody comes running. I think we sat there for three or four hours. We actually got through four times.
Ley: [ABC] wanted our power. There was a particular individual, who shall remain nameless, who was rather adamant. That didn’t happen. We stayed on the air.
Gowdy Jr.: I don’t remember that. What I remember is our engineers utilized that ESPN generator to hook up with Washington, with Ted Koppel. That was a collaborative team effort.
Michaels: Curt Gowdy Jr. says, “Why don’t you come down here? We think we can patch you through to New York through the truck.” They gave me a microphone. If you look at it, it looks like something Frank Sinatra might have sung with at the Avalon Ballroom.
Craig Janoff, director, ABC: We brought a handheld camera to shoot him. He got to look at the monitor wall and look at the things going on. That was the perfect place for him to be.
Michaels: One of the benefits we had was the blimp.
Crayton: The first question is, “How long can you stay up?” I said, “I’ve got fuel for 10 hours.” I couldn’t get very far away without losing the signal. Our microwave transmission had to be in line of sight, and anything that got in the way would cause it to break away. But we had a telephoto lens. We did get a chance to show the upper deck of the Bay Bridge. We could see fires were starting down the part of town by the Golden Gate Bridge. I went from being four hours to cover a baseball game to eight and a half hours airborne.
Michaels: It was a little while before we were able to discern what happened in Oakland. When I first saw what they were showing me, I knew it was a double-decker freeway. But I didn’t know whether it had been a pancake or whether the road had buckled. That was the only thing we were a little bit late on.
Ted Koppel, anchor, ABC News: Al may well be the best play-by-play man in the business. That calls for the ability to observe accurately and report succinctly. He applied those skills brilliantly that evening, aided by an intimate knowledge of San Francisco’s geography.
Michaels: I love geography, always have. I almost have a compass in my head. No matter what American city this could have taken place in, I could have a sense of where this happened. With San Francisco, I could give you street locations.
Chris Berman, anchor, ESPN: At probably eight Pacific Time, give or take, I asked if myself and our cameraman, Rick Tullis, could see where the stadium had split.
Costa: That’s way up high. It’s in pretty much dead center field, at the very center of the building. We walked and I took him to where the expansion joints expanded.
Berman: The crack was six inches wide. Nobody would have fallen through. But you could have looked down several hundred feet between your legs. That would have been … holy Christ.
Costa: Berman put on some makeup, and they put some on me, and we went on SportsCenter live that night. My now-wife, then-girlfriend, she had moved from Ohio to be with me. I never thought to call her that day. That was really bad. I was so immersed in it. Fortunately, her sister saw me on SportsCenter.
Al Clark: I noticed ESPN was still telecasting. So I said [to a producer], “Listen, I’ll make a trade with you. Since I’m the only guy left in the ballpark that should’ve been on the field, I’ll go on a segment for as long as you want if you allow me to use one of your satellite telephones to contact my wife.” He immediately led me to a makeup person. I spoke on one of the segments for about a half-hour, then was led into one of the production trucks and was able to get through to my wife right away. That was probably one of the best trades I’ve ever made.
Ley: I later learned a lot of guys found a reason to walk behind me, so their wives and families could see they were all right.
Ratto: One of the things that struck me was Candlestick Park, it was supposed to be a rotting whorehouse of a ballpark, but it took this huge beating from the Earth’s crust like it was nothing. I thought, Well, I’m in the safest place in the Bay Area, and it’s going to take a whole lot more than a 7 to get this place to knock down. By the time I left, at probably 8:30 or 9, it was pitch black, no lights at all. I remember having to drive all the way down to San Jose then back up to the East Bay, but mostly it was trying to figure out ways to keep busy. I was not supposed to leave yet but not sure what I’m supposed to do. I figured traffic was going to suck anyway.
Gay: We started shutting these generators down so we didn’t waste fuel. When we left, this place was pitch-dark.
Agnos: The second thing I immediately did was call the Army headquarters and asked the commanding general to give me all of the troops he had. He said he had about 1,500 troops, which he immediately sent to the city. The more secure we could make people feel, the less anxiety there would be. We cordoned off the Marina because it was devastated the most.
Rosen: We got a police escort who took us home to our apartment right across from the Transamerica building, and I remember climbing up 22 floors because there was no elevator service. We had Mrs. McClatchy as our guest, whose family owned the newspapers, and she was on the 23rd floor, so I had to walk her up. Neither one of us are spring chickens. Then I had to go back down and bring my wife up to the 22nd floor.
Dave Guzzetti, fan, upper deck: My bus made it to the edge of downtown. Then the bus driver announced, “I can’t go any further. You’ve got to get out and walk.” There were no lights, no businesses or restaurants open. We had to gingerly find our way in pitch black to where our hotels were.
Berman: There was no power into the peninsula. By that point, there were all sorts of flares on the Interstate.
Maldonado: When I get to the house, I could see everything was on the floor, and I told my kids to wait outside. It was like someone came into the house, opened all of the drawers, and threw everything on the ground. I felt really bad because I didn’t want the kids to see and feel panic for what had happened.
Krukow: We got back to the Marriott, the seventh floor, and all the electricity was off except the exit signs. The television console was blown out. It looked like a war zone.
Bruce Jenkins, columnist, San Francisco Chronicle: I remember walking back to the hotel just in a sweat, feeling like I’ve been out in the Mojave Desert for two weeks, just spent, and of course there was no electricity or running water. I was hoping just one drop would come out so I could put it on my face, and one did.
Dave Dravecky, injured Giants starting pitcher: When the earthquake hit, my kids were in the pool with the babysitter. The water in the pool started to act like a tidal wave. If it wasn’t for two guys in the pool who grabbed the kids, they may have been seriously hurt.
Hildy Bernstein, fan, Noah Graham’s mom: My son did not get it until we got home. It looked like a looter had walked through our entire house. Every surface, every cabinet was on the ground.
Noah Graham, fan, lower deck: If I had to say I was worried about something, it was probably my fish tank. I hoped my fish tank didn’t fall over.
Dolich: While at Candlestick, we had heard a rumor that there was significant damage at the Coliseum, and that one of the large light standards had fallen into the stadium. I remember clearly that it was a beautiful, starlit night. I walked down on the field. It was calm and it was peaceful. I walked around and not a blade of grass was disturbed. The Coliseum never looked better, even though there was massive damage to the Nimitz Freeway just a few miles away.
Busch: When we finally got home, we were sitting on the deck and listening to the radio. I remember my son coming up to me and saying, “Daddy, what’s a death toll?”
A screamer headline in the next morning’s San Francisco Chronicle blared “HUNDREDS DEAD” — a wild overestimate, it turned out, but one that seemed commensurate with the damage. Homes were flattened in the Marina District. A section of the Bay Bridge collapsed. Forty-two people died when the top tier of the Cypress Street Viaduct in Oakland slammed into the lower tier.
Dave Guzzetti, fan, upper deck: The next morning, it was like an episode of The Twilight Zone. All the clocks on the sides of San Francisco buildings had stopped at the same time. There were beer bottles strewn everywhere. I could see helicopters bringing in Vice-President Dan Quayle to survey the damage.
Dan Quayle, vice-president of the United States: I was in Southern California at the time. I remember talking to the president. I said, “I’d like to go up there.” I left that night. My wife, Marilyn, is very involved in disaster preparedness. She and her fellow cohort at FEMA had just done a huge exercise with the state of California and a drill on a potential San Francisco earthquake. So from a logistical point of view, it was extraordinarily smooth.
Gatlin: You know what was incredible? There was no fighting. No yelling. Citizens were out on the street corners directing traffic. It was the most civil bunch of people. Hell, they’re touchy-feely, kumbaya people, anyway.
Gallagher: I drove to Candlestick the next morning. The only thing active was the seagulls.
Butler: I remember doing a TV spot in the city. A limo picked me up. As we were leaving, we got on the on-ramp, and I looked back to see if any traffic was coming. That’s where the Bay Bridge had fallen. There were no cars.
Quayle: One of the problems we had was there were some areas we couldn’t have any communications with because of the earthquake damage. Particularly down by Santa Cruz. That was a challenge. Even the next day we couldn’t get communications to assess the damage.
Hildy Bernstein, fan, Noah Graham’s mom: We weren’t allowed to go into the supermarket. You had to give your list to people at the front of the supermarket, and they darted through the store to find your stuff. You went to the bank and there were two men out front with a shoebox full of money. They gave you the money you requested.
Gatlin: All the lights were off at the St. Francis [hotel]. People were lighting candles, but the staff was saying “no candles” because if there was a gas leak it would blow that thing up. We saw Bob Hope in the lobby and had a wonderful talk. It was dark, and maybe people didn’t recognize him. We sat there for an hour and had a couple of toddies.
Dave Henderson: A few days later, [A’s pitcher] Dave Stewart and I and a few other players were helping out the firemen. Just bringing coffee and lifting spirits and things like that.
Schueler: Stew probably had the best game face ever in baseball the days he was going to pitch. That whole 10 or 11 days, he had that game face on like it was a mission.
McCarver: Baseball has often been criticized for having games start at five or eight Eastern [Time] for big events like the World Series, but imagine if that hadn’t been the starting time. Just imagine the casualties — because instead of people already at home ready to watch the game in the Bay area, it would’ve been more devastating because that would’ve been in rush hour.
Agnos: Joe DiMaggio at that time was 75 years old, and he lived in the Marina when he was in the city. His sister had a house there, and he had much of his memorabilia there. After the earthquake, the Marina was closed off, and nobody could get in there without special permission — if nothing else than to recover precious things, like photos and marriage certificates, stuff like that. We had a special system set up where we evaluated each house for its safety and then gave people a pass with an escort to go and search in their home. It was a long, long line in the Marina Middle School playground. People were waiting in the hot sun. As I was walking along the line, I noticed that DiMaggio was standing waiting in the middle of the line. I said, “Mr. DiMaggio, what are you doing?” He said he was waiting to see if his house was OK to go back to. I said, “Let me take you to the front of the line,” and he was very gracious and smiled and said, “No, thank you, I’ll wait my turn. Everybody else is in the same place as I am.” But I said, “Are you over 65?” And he smiled and said, “Yeah, I sure am.” I said, “Well, people over 65 are moved to the front of the line because of the heat and uncomfortable circumstances.” He said, “Oh, I’ll certainly take that.”
Cohn: The next morning, we get up and find out from TV there’s a press conference in the St. Francis hotel.
Busch: The image that comes to mind is walking up the stairways in a dark hotel, and the stairways had votive candles for light.
Dolich: It almost seemed like a bunker in which war planning was going on.
Gallagher: I wish someone had had the presence of mind or ability to record it. There were the owners of both teams. The commissioner of baseball. The head of the players’ union. The head of the network. There were probably 30 people in there. Half the people had not showered. They were still in the clothes they were in the day before. Everybody was scared to death. We’re trying to figure out what the hell to do.
Myers: I was impressed with Vincent’s grasp of the situation. He was leaning on people to get the information. He wasn’t narrowly focused on “what I have to do” and “what’s important to me.”
Vincent: For some reason, that phrase, “our modest little game,” resonated with the public. It was then that I became the commissioner of baseball, in the public’s eye. My own, too.
Chass: One of my memories is Vincent showed up for the press conference not wearing a tie.
Vincent: George Steinbrenner, the Yankees owner, called me right after the press conference and said, “I saw you on TV at that press conference. You weren’t wearing a tie. A commissioner should always wear a tie. You looked like a bum.”
Fehr: The smokers smoked. We drank lots of coffee to stay awake. Unless we were prepared to move the games out of metropolitan San Francisco, there was nothing to do.
Agnos: After several days had passed and the immediate crisis had subsided, I got a message that the commissioner was thinking of restarting the Series. I was opposed, and he wanted to meet with me.
Busch: I think the commissioner was under tremendous pressure from ABC to get this series going again. Remember, Oakland won the first two games in Oakland. They were heavy favorites. ABC wanted to get this thing over with.
Agnos: Vincent said, “I’d hate to be the commissioner who caused the termination of the World Series,” and I said, “I would hate to be the mayor who continued the World Series when we’re still looking for dead bodies and making sure the park is safe.”
The A’s Leave for Phoenix
The long break between games began to remind the A’s of the ’88 postseason, when they won the ALCS and waited six days to meet the Dodgers in the World Series.
Haas: We learned in ’88. We were prohibitive favorites to beat the Dodgers. We didn’t hit. I think we just got rusty.
La Russa: I had read the book by Pat Riley, Show Time, and I was really intrigued by what he had done with the Lakers at the beginning of every playoff run. He would take the team somewhere else out of the L.A. area, give them several days to prepare, try to get their minds together, and challenge them to go as far as they could to win the championship. I’ve never forgotten that.
Schueler: Sandy said, “Maybe it would be better if we got out of town and went down to Phoenix and got into a spring training scenario.” So after a couple of days, we boarded a plane and went down.
Dolich: We didn’t go the next day. That would have seemed Machiavellian and pre-planned.
Alderson: I guess that was somewhat controversial with Fay. He made reference to it in a book he wrote. I didn’t recall the circumstances quite the same way.
Vincent: I did not like that idea. It would represent baseball fleeing a city in crisis and put the game ahead of civic help some players were providing. It was not the right message.
La Russa: Once we were flying into Phoenix, the pilot said, “There’s some extensive traffic around the ballpark.” There were 8,000 people there. We found out later that parents took their kids out of school.
Art Kusnyer, A’s bullpen coach: They charged like five bucks a person to get in and they gave all the proceeds to the earthquake victims.
Moore: Another Tonyism was, “We’ve got the best pitching staff in baseball. So who better for our hitters to face?” I don’t think the hitters appreciated it too much.
Dave Henderson: We all hated Eckersley because he was basically a dick on the mound. I’d faced the guy for 10 years and he was a dick before. The only reason we let him live was because he was on our team.
Alderson: During that game, I think Eckersley drilled Canseco. He took a free shot at him.
Eckersley: Jose comes up to bat and he’s pointing to center like Babe Ruth. The first pitch, I drilled Canseco in the back. I dunno, I guess I just got jacked up and threw as hard as I could. Jose’s coming to the mound and he’s pissed. Finally, everything cools down. It was a strange moment.
Dave Henderson: After it was all over, Canseco comes to me and says, “Hey, Hendu, you think Eckersley hit me on purpose?” I’m like, “You idiot. He’s only walked three guys the whole year!”
Hassey: We went to Phoenix and stayed focused, just like Tony wanted us to.
Alderson: My view was, look, there was an earthquake, but our fans wanted us to win the World Series.
Busch: Maybe because we were a San Francisco team, we took a little bit of a different approach than the A’s. The A’s hopped on a plane and went to Phoenix to work out. We stayed and got involved in earthquake relief.
Kennedy: That was a mistake. They had a much better plan.
Ratto: With the A’s, they managed to reduce the events back to baseball. I didn’t really get that sense with the Giants. I could see where the Giants, who had stayed in the area, were probably on less firm ground emotionally, no pun intended. Having covered that team the whole year, it just seemed different.
Bill Bathe, Giants catcher: In Arizona, I had a mother-in-law who had just died and I had a son who had just been born. I was caught in a real interesting situation. I couldn’t leave and come back, even though my wife was going through a tough time with our newborn and losing her mother. I think that eventually led to my divorce. Put yourself in my shoes. My wife really needed me, and I couldn’t be there with her. Eventually, that led to a lot of resentment.
Honeycutt: Sometimes we place such a high regard on something like the World Series, but the devastation that happened — some people had lost their legs, their arms, and they had to get them out of the vehicles where they were crushed. It just didn’t make the game seem that important anymore.
Greg Litton, Giants utility player: We had a group of Christians that year that hung out: Brett Butler, Scott Garrelts, Atlee Hammaker, Jeff Brantley, Bob Knepper. And of course Dave Dravecky. We certainly did a lot of praying.
Dave Dravecky, Giants relief pitcher: I don’t wax eloquently when I pray. But in the simplicity of my prayers, it was, “God, I have no clue what’s going on in the Marina or in Santa Cruz. Just give these folks the strength to endure what they’re facing right now. Help them in their hour of need.”
Dolich: I don’t remember which day or who brought it up, but someone asked, “Do we go to a neutral site?”
Agnos: The commissioner said, “Well, then we have to move to San Diego.” Bob Lurie became furious and said, “You’re moving it to San Diego over my dead body.”4
Vincent later claimed he was bluffing to convince Agnos to restart the Series.
Lurie: I don’t know if I went that far. But close.
Fehr: The default position, as far as the players were concerned, was to stay there unless certain circumstances made that impossible.
Lurie: We got along fine after he came to his senses and realized we should stay in San Francisco.
Return to Candlestick
On October 18, the morning after the earthquake, a team of engineers entered the ballpark the press had dubbed “Wiggly Field.” They began searching for damage.
John Lind, stadium director, Candlestick Park: We knew buildings all over the Bay Area needed inspectors. But we were able to put together a team of 28 to 30 engineers by the next day to show up at Candlestick. We put up a big map in my office of my stadium and sectored it off.
Gay: We put a lot of battery-powered emergency lights in. We put them in the restrooms and clubhouses — especially the clubhouses. We’d had no emergency power in the clubhouses. You can imagine how the ballplayers felt being in pitch dark.
Oberkfell: In Candlestick, there were guys out there on the field in hard hats. We kept stuff like that amongst ourselves. We didn’t want people to think we were joking around.
Lind: Candlestick being live on TV is the only thing that made it a focal point. But there wasn’t any damage to the stadium. I bet we spent $400,000 inspecting the stadium and there wasn’t any damage.
Haas: There was talk of “Let’s cancel the World Series.” We didn’t think that was a good idea on a lot of counts, least of all because we were up 2-0.
Alderson: I remember having a conversation with Wally Haas that if they come to us and offer to make us World Series champs with a 2-0 record, we should take it.
Lurie: That would really have made me ill.
Purdy: I remember writing, “This is just too hard, just too sad, they should just cancel the Series. Leave it at two games. It’ll always be in the record books as A’s win two, Giants win none, A’s win the Series.” Tony La Russa said, “I understand how you feel, but here’s the deal. If you can prove to me that we’re hurting anybody with this Series, you’re right. But I think we’re helping people.” He kind of convinced me that I was wrong.
Vecsey: I remember writing that Vincent’s right, the game must go on. I said, “That’s exactly the right thing.” My feeling was, why elevate baseball to something more important? If they’re going to be back running BART and opening restaurants, why not open a ballpark?
Dave Henderson: My feeling was, I don’t care how long it takes. I want to win the World Series. I want that ring on my finger.
On Tuesday, October 24, Agnos gave Vincent the go-ahead to restart the Series. Game 3 would be played at Candlestick that Friday.
Agnos: I wanted to restart it, and we did so. From there, baseball was wonderful.
Ratto: I think they just liked the illusion of the game resuming and them showing up at the ballpark as a statement of resilience. I don’t know if it was or not, but they thought it, and very often, what you think is as powerful as what really is.
Duane Kuiper, Giants play-by-play announcer: We had witnessed an emergency that was catastrophic, and it made us a much more solemn group, of course. But it did steel our resolve to win this city this championship.
Brantley: It was really billed as an energizer to bring the city back to normal, to take everybody’s minds off the devastation. But I’ll be honest with you: It was really hard just to say, “OK, this is what I’ve worked my whole life for.” It was hard to get back in the moment. As much as you try to be a robot and just be a baseball player, it didn’t quite work that way.
Hildy Bernstein, fan, Noah Graham’s mom: I really did not want to go. I just didn’t want to go. I literally tried to bribe my son. “I’ll give you a bicycle if we just don’t go.”
Noah Graham, fan, lower deck: I’m like, “Are you kidding me? World Series, hello?”
As Murray Chass noted in the New York Times, during the delay Paul Tagliabue had been named NFL commissioner, televangelist Jim Bakker had been sent to the big house, and Hungary had become a republic. The Giants realized the long layoff had produced an unexpected problem. The A’s had reset their pitching rotation.
Oberkfell: Unfortunately, we had to face Dave Stewart and Mike Moore again.
Brantley: We weren’t supposed to face Dave Stewart until Game 5, if we got there. And you turn around and, boom, there he is again. It almost made you feel as though, OK, this was not for us. You’re not allowed to vocalize that. You’re not allowed to talk about it because you don’t want to have a defeatist attitude. But you just get the feeling around your locker room that the emotion was drained from everybody.
Garrelts: I had pitched Game 1. I’m not sure who was scheduled to pitch Game 3 that night. But with 10 days off, Roger just gave me the ball.
LaCoss: I was a little bit irritated. I was hoping that Roger was gonna stay with the rotation that would have allowed me to start Game 4. It pissed me off. The earthquake cost me a start in the World Series.
Gatlin: As fate would have it, it was the only day within the next two or three weeks that we actually could get back and [sing the anthem]. We had concerts we were booked to play. We came back and we sang the deal.
Gallagher: We tried to figure the appropriate way to celebrate. We had the representatives from all the emergency services: firemen, Caltrans, paramedics, police on both sides of the Bay. We had them collectively throw out the first ball of the game.
Ley: After 9/11, when I saw similar ceremonies in New York, I kind of flashed back to that ceremony in Candlestick.
Kennedy: Fifty-some people threw out the first pitch at the same time. We almost got killed. We’re all spread out, and not 1 percent of them can throw a strike. Guys were getting crushed by cross throws. But these were important people who did important things.
Busch: We had the cast of Beach Blanket Babylon, the long-running musical, and they sang the song “San Francisco.” The whole crowd sang it.
Gallagher: It was almost like people standing at church and holding hands and singing. People were collectively dealing with whatever feelings they had.
Letendre: The singing of the “San Francisco” song [pause] … I can hear it and I just tear up.
Moore: Baseball for sure is not a cure-all for everything. But I think it refocused a lot of attention and became a kickoff for, “Hey, let’s get going with life.”
Al Clark: We were at home plate talking about aftershocks. In fact, I had made a ground rule that in that game — and for the rest of the Series, I guess — that if there was an aftershock and the ball was live and in play, that the play would continue until the play was over.
Claire Isaacs Wahrhaftig, fan, upper deck: I’d never made a sign. But I thought, I got to make a sign. So with silver and black and orange markers, I write, “With Nary a Crack, Sec. 53 Is Back.” Off I go to the game. As I went up the steps, it turns out Section 53 was the only section with any damage! There was all this press around. As soon as they saw the sign, they descended on me.
Guzzetti: They said the stadium was safe. You could see the cracks in pillars where the cement had cracked, from the outside as well as the inside. You just trusted that that wasn’t going to give or anything.
Haas: When the Series finally resumed 10 days later, I had no tickets. I got some from the American League smack dab in the middle of the most hard-core Giants season-ticket holders. It was my comeuppance for trying to get away from it all. I had to pretend I wasn’t even for the A’s.
McGwire: Was the electricity like it was before? No, but there was electricity there.
Litton: Have you ever been to a big college football game where the fans take their feet and bang them on the ground and make that rumble? The fans did that a couple of times during Game 3. That’s what the earthquake sounded like. The hair on our arms would stand up.
Dave Henderson: Scott Garrelts won the ERA title for the National League. Their manager, Roger Craig, said he could handle our lineup, because we were a right-handed hitting lineup and he had a great slider. We hit that thing all over the ballpark. I was still seeing Dodger blue when Scott Garrelts was on the mound.
La Russa: It was a fairly warm night at Candlestick, and the wind was in the hitters’ favor.
Craig: I think we were ready physically but not mentally.
Litton: In the Series, I was 3-for-6 with a single, a double, and a home run and three RBIs. People tell you about players being in a zone. I don’t know how you get into it, or how it happens, but I promise you every pitch thrown to me in that World Series was in slow motion. I say this with all sincerity and without being arrogant: I still can’t believe I only went 3-for-6.
Bathe: I got a pinch-hit three-run homer in the ninth inning. You always wonder what players are thinking when they hit a home run. I was thinking, Enjoy every single step because this’ll probably never happen again. In my life, everything came together at that one moment. My kid, my marital problems, living my dream in the World Series, the earthquake, people dying. Everything all at once.
Janoff: When Oakland won Game 3, we said, “Uh-oh. Sweep time.”
Litton: The blow that killed us in Game 4 was Mike Moore hitting a double over Brett Butler’s head with two outs. It was like, Wow, even their pitchers are hitting doubles.
Blankenship: Moore used my bat! He couldn’t find a good bat, so he came over and looked at my old Cooper two-tone.
Moore: I used his bat and Billy Beane’s helmet.
Eckersley: What’s the chances of having the ball in your glove when it’s over? I don’t have that ball now. Keeping last balls wasn’t a big deal back then. You don’t realize until you get to that moment how huge it is to win a world championship. Especially for me, I was so much older. I was 35. It had been a long time.
Letendre: After Eck closed it out — this is from a personal standpoint, not speaking for the Giants — it was a little bit of a relief.
La Russa: I told ownership and the front office that if we celebrated, it would be improper to celebrate the normal way with champagne.
Dave Henderson: I don’t think there was a vote. Just a consensus. We didn’t have a young team. Most of us had 10, 12 years in the major leagues.
Parker: I had a bottle of champagne in the locker room. I sat in the locker room drinking champagne by myself.
Schueler: Once the cameras and the media started to dissipate a bit, then it really got special. Wally Haas, who’s the owner, came in and personally thanked all the guys. They even let the wives in.
Purdy: I remember talking to Mark McGwire. I asked, “Is the feeling the same as winning it without an earthquake?” He looks at me like, How would I know?
‘Candlestick Park Basically Raised Its Middle Finger’
The Earthquake Series ended with a whimper. Our modest little game, as Vincent had dubbed it, had become a footnote to a natural disaster.
Gowdy Jr.: It was the first major earthquake in the United States ever broadcast live on television.
Jenkins: In retrospect, really, the earthquake is the only thing that is remembered, and maybe that’s how it should be. It was so one-sided, just alarmingly so because the Giants just didn’t really show up.
Lurie: I’ve almost recovered after losing four straight games. I’ll recover pretty soon.
Garrelts: People always ask, “Did you play in a World Series?” and the hard part is telling them I lost. They say, “Hey, at least you were there.” And from their standpoint, yes. But for me, you had one winner, and everybody else is a loser.
Haas: Terry Steinbach was a free agent that next year. We wanted him back. His wife just did not want to come back to San Francisco. I remember saying to Terry, “I’ve lived here for forty-something years, that’s the biggest we’ve ever had.” Sure enough, they decide to come back to Oakland and flew in from Minneapolis for the press conference. What happens that night? A small earthquake.
Agnos: A couple of weeks later, after we had lost the World Series, I was doing a radio talk show, and this one caller called up. He was unhappy with a lot of things, with my policies. He thought I was being too soft on the homeless. There were a lot of homeless people as a result of the earthquake, and a lot were temporarily homeless but still out in the parks of the city. He was complaining about a variety of things, saying I was the worst mayor we’ve ever had. So the talk-show host, who was not a big fan of mine, said, “Well, you’ve got to admit the mayor did a pretty good job during the earthquake.” The caller said, “Yeah, but that only lasted 17 seconds.”
Bathe: I think maybe subconsciously it led to my occupation now. I’m a captain with the Tucson Fire Department.
Claire Isaacs Wahrhaftig, fan, upper deck: I live in a house in the Berkeley Hills. I really should renew my earthquake insurance.
Berman: As much of a bad rap as it gets for the weather and the cold and the wind and oh-my-god-the-worst-place-to-catch-a-summer-night-game, Candlestick will go down in history for being strong when we needed it the most. I love that place. I go out there every time I get into the city and stay there for 15 minutes, for my own reasons. I’ll never forget it. It didn’t blink.
Ratto: Candlestick Park basically raised its middle finger to the rest of the world.
McGwire: I can still see those lights that were swinging. They were swinging 15 feet side-to-side and it’s like, Oh my god, are they going to come down? Those are the things you think about.
Butler: Every time I feel something shake, it automatically takes me back.
Fehr: To this day, if I’m in California and I’m in a car and I drive underneath a freeway overpass and get stopped at a light, about that time I shudder. I know I’m going to do it and I can’t stop it.
Oberkfell: You don’t like to make jokes. But I tell people who ask me, “Well, we got swept in four games. But it took ’em two and a half weeks.”
These interviews have been edited and condensed.