Otto Gruele Jr./Getty Images
The San Francisco Giants played 40 seasons in one of the coldest places ever built to play major-league baseball. Soon, it'll be imploded.
No major-league baseball has been played at Candlestick Park in San Francisco since 1999, but since the Giants called it home for 40 seasons (1960-1999), this story has a baseball-related, um, impact:
Plans are to blow up the 69,OOO-seat stadium with a 3O-second implosion, possibly within weeks of the 49ers' final touchdown next season. San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department, which owns Candlestick, had feared it would be stuck spending millions to mothball the 53-year-old structure until Lennar Corp. was ready to build something on the land. Lennar, however, figures there's no point in waiting. "The best thing for our development and the neighborhood is not to have that hulking building sitting there empty," said Kofi Bonner, president of Lennar Urban, which plans a retail, residential and office complex for the stadium site and the former Hunters Point Shipyard.
Now that would be fun to watch! I saw the Cubs play many times in Candlestick, the first in 1978, when I went to a night game there in July not dressed for the weather and froze pretty much every extremity you could think of. That was this game, which had an unusual distinction; a game between the Cubs and Giants eight days earlier at Wrigley Field had been suspended for darkness. Since it was the last game between the Cubs and Giants in Chicago that year, it was completed before the regular game began:
game suspended at 6:34pm, completed in San Francisco on 7/28 with new umpire crew
Which meant the Cubs were the home team, listed as such on the Candlestick scoreboard, for two innings.
The last game I saw there was Game 5 of the 1989 NLCS, played on a Monday afternoon. The boxscore says it was 76 degrees at game time, but Weather Underground says it got to a high of 84 that day and it felt even warmer in the bowl of the Stick, which is one of the worst places I ever saw a baseball game. Sterile and concrete, most of the sightlines were bad, and the swirling winds got worse after they enclosed the place for the 49ers in 1971. The stadium even had artificial turf from 1970-1978, making it even uglier (if you own Rare Sportsfilms' Cubs/Giants game from 1972, you can see it in action).
Candlestick Park was a dump (but Giants fans would probably say, "It was our dump."). The Giants played in two World Series there (in 1962, and came within a couple of feet of winning it, and the earthquake Series of 1989), and made two other LCS there (1971, 1987). Soon, it'll be nothing but memories, hopefully commemorated with a plaque.