REMEMBERING THE 1989 WORLD SERIES EARTHQUAKE
A few days ago, a post on one of my social media feeds reminded me that October 17 marked the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, a 6.9 quake that stopped the third game of the World Series, between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s before it even started.
I was at that game. Now, close to thirty years later, I still carry the ticket in my wallet. It is my lucky charm. It’s a little worse for wear but if you look closely you can see I was in Candlestick Park Upper Reserve, Section 25, Row 12.
This was my first World Series game and I was excited. Sure, I’d been to games at the ‘Stick as it was called. I was not a quiet fan. I was the woman yelling, “Aw no.” “How could you do that?” and the palm slap to the forehead followed by ‘Really?”
But I promised I would be on good behavior at this game. I dropped the kids, boys, 7 and 5 at their grandparent’s house in Corte Madera, Marin County and drove in across the Golden Gate Bridge, pulled off and parked in one of neighborhoods and hopped on a public bus filled with enthusiastic Giants fan going to the game.
Candlestick Park was known for being foggy and cold. But not tonight. It was a beautiful sunny Fall evening.The ball park was filling up and excitement was palpable. All 60,000 seats were sold out. The game was going to start at 5:30pm. My husband had gone to get us something to eat when at 5:04pm, I heard a tremendous roar. I looked up, thinking it was a jet flyover celebrating the game. It wasn’t. It was the start of the earthquake.
Then my seat started to shake violently. I grabbed on to the arms of the chair. I was being tossed around so much that I would soon be on the floor. Chunks of concrete fell from the overhead above me and some fans came running down the steep steps.
About 15 seconds later, it stopped. The ballpark quieted down and then the fans let out a huge cheer. What a way to start a World Series! San Francisco would show the world how it’s done. The park lost power, but Candlestick was still standing and in relatively good shape.
Within a few minutes, we realized the terrible impact of the quake. A man a row above us had a portable television. Still staring at the little screen, he said, “Part of the Bay Bridge collapsed. There’s a fire in the Marina,” I knew this was extremely serious and I thought about my boys and wondered how they were.
There were police cars, rows of policemen, and if I remember correctly, mounted police, on the
playing field. Players helped their families out of the stands. In an orderly fashion, all 60,000 of us made our way out of the ballpark. It was quiet and calm, but there was an undercurrent of concern. I eventually stepped onto a bus, found my car and drove home. While crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, I noticed smoke and fire off to the right in the Marina.
I tried to keep panic at bay while I
drove to get my children. That’s all I wanted…was to see them. Luckily, they were fine. The grandparents moved them to an aunt’s house when their electricity went out.
As everyone knows, 67 people were killed, and the quake caused more than $5 billion in damage. The game was replayed at Candlestick on October 27. I was at that game too. Unfortunately, the Giants lost that game and the series.
I’ve been at other SF Giants World Series games. Since I am employed by the Giants, I have worked them…and I’ve walked in two World Series parades. While they were tremendously exciting, nothing compares to the 1989 Bay Bridge World Series.
(Although this was rush hour, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was virtually empty. Everyone had left work early to be home in front of the tv when the World Series started.)