Candlestick Park was home to the San Francisco Giants for four decades. Some are still amazed the team lasted that long in a ballpark that often felt more like a stadium on the east coast.
When Giants’ owner Horace Stoneham visited Candlestick Point in San Francisco looking to build a new home for the team he’d moved west from New York in 1958, he arrived during a beautiful afternoon. Unfortunately weather conditions were much different at night. Stoneham had decided to build the ballpark in an area of the Point where cold winds swirled off the bay. Fans attending night games were chilled to the bone once the sun went down.
Outfielders sometimes lost track of fly balls and home run hitters like the Giants’ own Willie Mays saw powerful drives fall short of the fence. In the 1961 All-Star game, pitcher Stu Miller was knocked off balance by a gust of wind and forced into a balk. A couple of years later, players would tell the tale of a batting cage picked up by a wind gust and dropped sixty feet away on the pitcher’s mound.
Candlestick Park opened in 1960 and began as a grass field. Trendy AstroTurf was installed and stayed in place from 1970-78 before the team went back to natural grass. It was sturdy, built of reinforced concrete that served fans well when the devastating 1989 earthquake struck the Bay Area when the Giants and A’s were playing the first ever “Bay Bridge World Series”.
The Giants’ main attractions in the 1960s were Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, two future Hall of Famers who thrilled fans with their power. Sweet-swinging first baseman Will Clark arrived in 1986 and led by easy going manager Roger Craig, the team was a regular in the NL playoff chase for several years.
The San Francisco 49ers began sharing Candlestick in the 1970s and the stadium was more famous for the Niners’ NFL glories in the 1980s and 90s when Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were forming a dangerous Hall of Fame quarterback/receiver duo and Bill Walsh was coaching them to regular Super Bowl titles.
The Giants left Candlestick in 1999, moving to the beautiful new Pac Bell Park, now AT&T Park, which was built by the water but didn’t have the weather problems forever associated with The Stick.
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