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Willie Mays, Willie McCovey say goodbye to Candlestick Park

Dec 24, 2013, 7:23 AM EDT

Candlestick Park baseball

By all accounts Candlestick Park was a godawful place for baseball. But as is the case with miserable people, if a stadium hangs around long enough people will eventually say nice things about it. Or, at the very least, will do so when they’re about to die.

Such is the case with Candlestick, which hosted its final sporting event last night. And though it was a football game, the two greatest baseball players to call Candlestick home — Willie Mays and Willie McCovey — were on hand to send the stick off.  John Shea of the Chronicle has a story about it, including stuff about Mays reenacting his days as a high school quarterback before the game.

Farewell, Candlestick Park. You did the best you could under trying circumstances, I suppose.

  1. proudlycanadian - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    A Merry Christmas to Candlestick, Craig and the gang, as well as my fellow posters (even Harry).

    • NatsLady - Dec 24, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      +1 (I dunno about Harry. OK, Harry, too.)

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 24, 2013 at 2:46 PM

      RIP Candlestick.

      Be safe people!

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:27 PM

        In this case, does RIP mean rust in pieces?

  2. 18thstreet - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    What great news for San Francisco. There’s a zillion things that the city can do with the land instead of build parking lots for a stadium open 8-10 days a year. What a waste of land football stadiums are.

    Question – is the new stadium going to be the furthest from the center city of any team? Foxborough is about 20 miles from Boston, Landover is maybe 10 from Washington, DC … and the new 49ers stadium is 40 miles south of the old one.

    • mybrunoblog - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      San Francisco to Santa Clara is actually 45 miles. That’s quite a trek. That seems to be the greatest distance of the stadiums involving teams that don’t actually play in the city they represent. I guess the NFL didn’t like the sound of the “Santa Clara 49ers”

      • mgflolox - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        Evidently, the NFL isn’t real crazy about the sound of “New Jersey Giants”, of “New Jersey Jets” either.

      • ezthinking - Dec 24, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        If the Giants can claim San Jose in baseball then the 49ers have no problem claiming Santa Clara part of San Fran.

  3. aec4 - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Couldn’t an SF:NO championship game be played there or, with the right outcome this weekend, SF win the division?

    • paperlions - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      Yep, there is a good chance that SF will host a WC game the first round of the playoffs.

      • delsj - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:09 AM

        Actually no SF can’t host a WC game. SF can win the division and get a bye, but the Seahawks would have to lose a second consecutive home game to the Rams – not likely (that’s assuming SF can beat the Cards in Arizona). SF will win 11 or even 12 games, but as a WC the road back to the SB is on the road. Aec4’s SF/NO championship game is the most realistic of the slim chances that Candlestick see another game.

      • paperlions - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:13 AM

        I thought they fixed that….seems silly for a team to get a home game just because they play in a crappy division.

      • delsj - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        Isn’t it the same in baseball? I think if the WC got to the NLCS, the division winner they play would have home field even if the WC had a better record. Take care of business in your own division, then worry about where the other pieces fall.

      • yahmule - Dec 24, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        Football was way better with six divisions. By going to eight, they’re just begging for 7-9 playoff teams.

      • asimonetti88 - Dec 24, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        The 49ers can’t host a wild card game. We have three scenarios: wild card team on the road, division winner and first round bye, or division winner and home field throughout the playoffs. The wild card team on the road is the most likely, assuming Seattle takes care of business against St. Louis at home. St. Louis is playing well, and the Seahawks’ offensive line will be banged up against a tough Rams’ defensive front, but I still think they will win and get home field throughout, a big coup for them.

  4. meatcarroll - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    And nothing of value was lost. Everyone knows Candlestick was a wretched dump.

    • jkcalhoun - Dec 24, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      I’m with Chris Berman: because it held up during the Loma Prieta Earthquake, to me it’s a very special wretched dump.

    • asimonetti88 - Dec 24, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      Better than the Kingdome

  5. meatcarroll - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    And nothing of value was lost. Everyone knows Candlestick was a wretched dump.

  6. dakotaandotter - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    I’m 63 and grew up in the Philly burbs so I never saw much of Mickey Mantle and other great ALers but will still say Willie Mays is the best player I have ever seen play the game. Plus, I missed his early days as I started becoming an avid fan in the late 50s. I saw him and McCovey many times at the old Connie Mack Stadium. It was always a treat.

  7. Stiller43 - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Theyre the new england patriots, not the boston patriots. Foxborough is 0 miles away from New England.

    And yes, Santa Clara is basically like the Redskins playing north of Baltimore (distance wise) and still holding on to “Washington”

  8. sometimesimisscandlestick - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    I saw a great many games at the ‘Stick, both Giants and Niners. As a kid growing up in SF, there was no place else I wanted to go. There will always be a part of me that lives there, it’s where I grew up. And of course, that’s how I got my screen name.

  9. APBA Guy - Dec 24, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    I saw too many Giants games at the ‘Stick. I say too many, because once PacBell (now At&T) opened, I instantly forgot about the wind and cold of Candlestick. I had the same experience 10 years earlier in Baltimore when Camden opened. I didn’t think anything would take the place of seeing Brooks Robinson at old Memorial Stadium, but Cal at Camden certainly was an improved experience, a greatly improved experience.

    Similarly, and this is not a PED comment, watching Barry Bonds move from Candlestick to PacBell was an improved experience. What a great venue. There is nothing like taking a waterfront stroll by AT & T on a late winter day in February, when the sun is out and the temps are mid-60’s, to really get me in the mood for baseball. I’ll stop by the park-they let you wander in and look at the field from the right center bleachers- and watch the the grounds crew working on the grass. It’s just a stunning place. Candlestick? I never used the word “stunning” about the it, only about the grand-slam I saw Bonds hit off Mark Leiter there once.

    • Old Gator - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      I like Candlestick. During the one game I attended there, I sat next to the ghost of Lord Franklin. We enjoyed the game – Giants absolutely handed it to the Cardinals – but Franklin kept complaining about the cold.

      • nolanwiffle - Dec 24, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

      • Gamera the Brave - Dec 24, 2013 at 2:31 PM

        The ghost of Samuel Clemens approves of the above comment.

      • Gamera the Brave - Dec 24, 2013 at 2:36 PM

        Sometime in the mid-seventies, my dad and I scalped a couple of tickets at the ‘Stick. The tickets were legit, and we got in – but the seats were directly behind a 3-foot-wide concrete pillar.

        Good times…

        That being said, I am just old enough to have seen Mays play, he was my boyhood hero.

      • Old Gator - Dec 26, 2013 at 12:16 PM

        Gamera: Sam, being the cranky bastard that he was (bless him), didn’t approve of much. It always pushes the envelope of literary criticism when one discerns something of which he would approve.

        I thought maybe I would re-read Letters from Earth for the umpteenth time this weekend. After finally managing to complete my Obamacare enrollment and seeing my monthly health insurance premium drop by eight hundred dollars, I am in danger of becoming optimistic.

  10. jimeejohnson - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    Went to a doubleheader with the Phillies at Candlestick. Had to wear the parka for the first game but wound up shirtless for the second.

    • Old Gator - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      How did the Phillies enjoy the game? Did you guys carpool?

  11. kiwicricket - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    During my first ever trip to San Francisco, I tried to squeeze in a game at Candlestick. It was a fair distance from where I was staying, so I asked at the tourist office for general directions and buses etc. The San Francisco Tourist Office advised me it was not a suitable place for me to visit….go figure.

    Merry Christmas to you all and the good people of HBT. (even Harry)

  12. hankg42 - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Being from the east coast, I only had the chance to attend Giants games twice at Candlestick, both day games. I was lucky. Beautiful sunshine and balmy breezes. So, in that regard, I have nothing bad to say about the place. I have read and heard the stories, though! :-)

    • Old Gator - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Ach, what a shame. You completely missed the Candlestick experience. And now, what with global warming and all, it’s too late.

  13. florida76 - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Candlestick Park will go down in history as the home of the Super Bowl winning Niners, and the Giants were only mediocre in that facility. That’s why you rarely heard complaints about the weather during Niners games, the team success overcame everything. In roughly four decades of play, the Giants only managed two pennants, and that’s why San Francisco went crazy when they won their first World Title in baseball in 2010.

    Team success is always key when talking about old stadiums, the Astrodome would have been remembered more fondly had the Astros and Oilers been more successful. Houston sports fans never did see their baseball and football teams reach the championship finals during the time they played in the Astrodome.

    • kiwicricket - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:53 PM

      If the Rays win the world series several years in a row, I am pretty sure everyone will remember their stadium as the giant effluent treatment plant looking structure it resembles.

    • mgflolox - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      Another factor is that the weather in SF is actually nicer in the fall than it is in the summer, plus the ‘Niners mostly played during the afternoon.

  14. ialto85 - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    “The Fan” anyone?

  15. vanfrier - Dec 24, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Years ago I was flying out of San Francisco back to Atlanta so I could make my sons baseball game. The flight was delayed because of fog and I mumbled that I had to get to Atlanta for my sons game. I took a seat to wait and an older gentleman came over to me, sat down and asked about my son’s game and how good he was. I opened up and told him that he was very a good pitcher for his age and not too bad in the infield, but that he couldn’t hit. This man seemed in thought for a minute then asked me some questions about my boys hitting. He thought some more, stood, walked across the rom and borrowed a woman’s umbrella, came back and proceeded to give me batting tips and how to instruct my son in the way to hit and how not to hit. I couldn’t wait to get home and show my son what this man had taught me. My son was not impressed at all. Oh dad he said, Your my dad, the coach is helping me and what does this guy know you met at an airport?
    I shook my head and turned away not wanting to let him see the tears in my eyes. What does HE now I asked myself? He was the greatest that ever played, ever picked up a bat, and here I want to thank that man, Mr Willie McCovey. Thank you. You made my day anyway.

  16. vanfrier - Dec 24, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Errors,, lol,, what does He know? and across the room.

  17. rap49er - Dec 24, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    I’m old enough to have gone to many games at Kezar Stadium, which was a much bigger dump than the Stick but I remember it so fondly. I still miss it and it’s been 43 years since the Cowboys beat us in the NFC championship game. Go figure.

  18. sisqsage - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    The demographics of the Niners’ season ticket holders reveals that the majority of their fans live in Santa Clara County, San Jose and Sacramento, not the city of SF. So the new stadium is closer to more of their diehard fans than the Stick.

    While the Stick never should have been built (as you’ve already noted, only a sweetheart deal made it happen) it still holds plenty of poignant baseball/football memories.

    Since this is HBT, I’ll stick to the baseball ones.

    April 1988: The Pirates were just starting to get good with Bobby Bo, Barry and Leyland. I was in the upper deck for a midweek night game. I had just gotten one of those low paying jobs in sports p.r. just out of college near SF and thought hey, I can go to more midweek games now as a true fan and it will be cheap. But I quickly learned that going to the Stick in April at night was a really bad idea. The wind chill was so bad, it tore through your clothes. Truly miserable. That was the coldest I have ever been and that includes winter ski trips to Tahoe. But the baseball that night was pretty good. Bonilla hit a HR and Leyland got in a great argument with Gary Darling and got tossed.

    Summer 1982: The stadium repeatedly plays the theme to Hill Street Blues in between innings. My brother and I get to see Jack Clark homer in person for the first time. Joe Morgan ties it up with a ninth inning homer down he RF line right by our seats. We go nuts. Champ Summers boots a routine play in LF, which allows Tim Raines to come to the plate and he clubs a HR that ends up deciding the game. We called Champ “Chump” on the way home.

    1998: Went to an entire Braves-Giants three game series. Dusty bats out of order (a shocker I know) and Bobby lets it go because he is already up like 15-1. One of Danny Darwin’s last starts, if not The Last. Just didn’t have it anymore. At the Sunday night ESPN game, Chipper wins it with a clutch RBI single in the ninth and the Braves sweep. All the girls in the stands swoon at the sight of Javy Lopez. The Giants were good that year, but couldn’t do anything right in that series. Because of TBS, there were more Braves fans there (wanting to get a rare CA look at their team from Georgia) than Giants fans, or so it seemed.

    AT&T Park was done right. Too bad Candlestick wasn’t. I definitely didn’t go to more Giants games there because the conditions were so bad. But baseball is so great, the old lady still provided some thrills I will never forget.

  19. shawndc04 - Dec 25, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Went to college in the Bay Area and loved the games but thought that both Candlestick and the Oakland Coliseum were wretched places for night games. The ‘Stick was actually not that bad for day baseball. If I remember correctly, the Giants would start some day games at noon.

    On another topic, does anyone know why Willie McCovey is in a wheelchair?

    • dinofrank60 - Dec 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      His knees are bad. 😦

  20. extavernmouse - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:42 AM

    Got to a game at Candlestick in May 1996. It was a nice afternoon, sunny and only a little windy. We had good seats right at the bullpen. One of our original seats was broken (!) and the Giants ticket people were really nice about giving us much better seats. It was against the Eric Davis Reds. Matt Williams’ wife was sick and he wasn’t there at the start, but showed up and hit an unexpected pinch-hit homer! It was actually a pretty nice day, but always on the edge of turning cold. It was hard-to-find for us out-of-towners and I remember bumpy dirt parking lots. We had a lot better experience at Sears Point Raceway for the NASCAR race a few days later. Haven’t been to AT&T but all my Bay Area friends tell me it’s a lot nicer.

  21. nutzitch - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    I went to college in SF from 85-90. As a kid from the Carolina’s, I grew up watching some pretty bad braves teams and when I got to SF in 1985, the Giants were terrible (lost 100 games that year) so it felt like home. I bought a motorcycle and would risk life and limb to go through hunters point or worse 101S from the city.
    I remember many days at Candlestick where the Giants announced paid attendance was less than 10,000 and some days where there were no more than 2-3K people there.
    Hot Dog wrappers would swirl in the outfield.
    In 1987 Former Brave Brett Butler became the lead-off man, and 2 kids named Will Clark and Robby Thompson started to set the table for Kevin Mitchell. Mitchell always looked cold at Candlestick.
    I still have my 2 tickets to game 5 of the 1989 WS (they got swept, no game 5).
    I remember many routine fly balls to right field that would find their way to the grass due to the swirling winds. Vets would even look lost out there.
    The ushers would hand out special buttons at night games and if a night game went extra innings, you were going to need hand warmers.
    Longest HR I ever saw was at candlestick. Darryl Strawberry (then with the dodgers) hit a shot off Billy Swift that was still climbing when it hit about the 5th row of red seats in the upper deck. Had that upper deck not been there that might have been the first splash HR, 650+ feet easy. I probably attended 400+ games from 1985 to 1999 at candlestick. I was there when the first HR for the Marlins was hit (B Santiago), when on a Thursday afternoon in 1997,Brian Johnson hit a first pitch HR in the 12th inning to beat (and tie in the standing) the Dodgers and the crowd went wild.
    The winds often led to conversation about willie’s 660 HR’s, and how many would have gotten out in a “normal” park.
    I once took a date to a doubleheader (she was from Norway) against the cards. Game 1 started at 12 noon and went 16 innings. By the time game 2 started, the fog and swirling winds came and the temp dropped 30+ degrees. My date said winters in Oslo were warmer, I didn’t get a second date.
    Goodbye Candlestick, your biting cold will always have a warm place in my heart.

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