Mostly cloudy

Field of extremes

  • In this April 1, 1960, file photo, Candlestick Park is seen under construction in this aerial view in San Francisco. (AP File)

Before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Apr. 12, 1960, U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon declared brand-new Candlestick Park “the finest ballpark in America.”

Nixon would prove to be wrong about a few things, and perhaps this was one of them.

There is no denying Candlestick's place among the great architectural ruins of American sports as we prepare for its final professional game on Monday night, or its connection to Bay Area history. But as much as Joe Montana and Willie Mays and the Beatles and Pope John Paul II, Candlestick Park will be remembered for its cruelty — for the fog and the dampness and, especially, those icy winds that arrived spontaneously to stir up dust devils and pin hot dog wrappers to stadium fences like Wanted posters.

Candlestick Park Through the Years


“Other cities do not continually blame their stadiums for the weather that Providence has thrust upon them,” former San Francisco mayor George Christopher liked to say.

And he had a point. It wasn't Candlestick's fault that it sat in a vortex of meteorological mischief. It was Christopher's — along with his business associates and political allies.

By the mid-1950s, the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers both were making noise about leaving New York City. San Francisco wanted to join the big leagues, and in 1954 the voters of the city passed a $5 million bond to construct a new stadium. Christopher went to work on Giants owner Horace Stoneham, and on Aug. 19, 1957, stockholders of National Exhibition Co. — Stoneham's consortium — voted 8-1 to move the team to the West Coast. (The other primary option had been Minneapolis.) The Dodgers would soon follow to Los Angeles.

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