Candlestick Memories

She’s not old – she opened in 1960, the year I was born. She’s not decrepit – she held her own against Loma Prieta at the 1989 World Series. But yes, she has outlived her time. The San Francisco 49ers, being the classy organization that they are, will certainly send the ‘Stick off in style next Monday.

My favorite Candlestick memory…

May 13, 1978. Three weeks shy of my graduation from high school and subsequent relocation to the Bay Area, my friend Jeff Battles and I road tripped to San Francisco for my first ever Giants game. I bought a program and secured autographs from a number of my baseball heroes that day: Willie McCovey, Jack Clark, Vida Blue, and John “The Count” Montefusco. Their opponent that weekend was the St. Louis Cardinals, and I was thrilled to have Lou Brock, Ted Simmons, and Claude Osteen all sign for me as well. If my memory serves me correctly, the Giants won that day in extra innings on a homerun by Marc Hill.

After the game, we talked our way into the player parking lot where more autographs ensued. When John Montefusco – who had pitched and won that day – emerged from the clubhouse, Jeff and I prevailed upon him for another autograph. He gave us a double-take and said “didn’t you guys already get me earlier today?” We were so impressed he remembered us. So, he struck a deal with us: if we would help him carry a few cases of champagne from the clubhouse to his car (a burgundy MG) then he would supply all the extra signatures we wanted. It was a bargain we couldn’t refuse, and we were beaming as we followed him into the Giant’s clubhouse deep within the bowels of The ‘Stick.

We hung out for a while just gazing out at the bay from Candlestick Point. We decided to spend the night in the Bay Area and return the next day for the Sunday double-header, and were rewarded with a sweep of the Cardinals as the Giants took over 1st place. Our box sets were $5 and beers were a buck – this is back when they’d pour ‘em two at a time right at your seat – no ID required!

The Giants teased us that summer with Pennant Fever, but the inevitable swoon brought them back to reality. Over the ensuing 35 years, I have attended dozens of great Giants & 49er games, tailgate parties, and championship celebrations, but no single Candlestick memory will ever match my first.

MJH 12-20-13

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