SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — During my Sunday news broadcast, I referred to Candlestick Park as a “dump.” Naturally, the sentimentalists and history revisionists reviled at my bad-natured remark and took to spewing venom via email. I have decided to share a response to one such viewer, who took offense to my ripping a San Francisco “landmark,” going so far as to portray myself as a native San Franciscan.
Thanks for watching and taking the time to email.
You are right that I went to Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. But I was born in San Francisco, grew up in the Sunset, swam in Fleishhacker pool, was a frequent attendee of the Funhouse at Playland, and often went ice skating at the old rink on 48th avenue.
All those venues are gone. And while I thoroughly enjoyed my youth in these old San Francisco haunts, they all seemed to be in disrepair and far past their prime. Such is the case of Candlestick Park. I went to hundreds of games there growing up. I worked for the Giants and MLB in 1980-1981 while attending San Francisco State. I spent more time there than any other reporter in the business. And while I was treated to many fond memories, the park was never one of them. An ill-fated project from the beginning, Candlestick was a bad baseball park and an even worse multi-purpose stadium.
I remember sitting in the old baseball bleachers in left field, 20 yards away from the left field fence. Twenty yards from the left field fence! In a September pennant run, I remember Mike Ivie hitting a grand slam over Dusty Baker’s outstretched glove. I was sitting in the football bleachers which were used as overflow seating. From there, you had no view of the right fielder. You had to depend on the crowd’s reaction to know what happened.
The long lines at concession and the bathrooms. The horribly cold conditions in extra inning games for which I earned many a Croix de Candlestick. The impossible exit from a 49er game. The heaters that never worked.
Many choose to remember Candlestick Park in a fond way. Not me. Good riddance to the monolithic mausoleum that eventually led to the 49ers departure. And when Paul McCartney brings down the final curtain, I hope the last song is “The End.”