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Padecky: Candlestick Park stood its ground

  • ** FOR USE AS DESIRED WITH EARTHQUAKE ANNIVERSARY STORIES ** In this photo taken On October 17, 1989, Oakland A's Jose Canseco walks off the field with his wife Ester and other A's players before the start of the World Series at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Oct. 17, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. (AP Photo/Contra Costa Times, Dan Rosenstrauch) ** MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT **

Last Friday they sat in the stands with their families at an otherwise nearly deserted Candlestick Park. In the emptiness and in the silence, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper found the place alive, the memories tumbling out free-form and with urgency, like water over the lip of a waterfall during spring run-off.

One memory, however, dominated all others for those two ex-Giants players, now Giants broadcasters. One memory they had and hope never to have again: that October day in 1989 when the earth shook Northern California, taking 63 lives, creating fires, collapsing freeways, causing $6 billion in damage, severing a portion of the Bay Bridge roadway and scaring people like a friend I have. She will never, ever drive over a bridge again. A promise she has kept for these 24 years.

"I dropped to my knees," said Krukow, standing near home plate, "like I was fielding a ground ball."

Candlestick Park Through the Years

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Krukow looked up, wondering what was up, the same look of trepidation everyone had that day inside Candlestick, when hard ground turned to Jell-O. People were trying to get their sea legs and how nervous did that make them — since they weren't at sea.

"That's because a 600-pound gopher just ran past me at 40 miles an hour," Krukow said.

When Game 3 of the 1989 World Series was played 10 days later, the Series was never the same and neither was Krukow.

"It was the day that changed my life," the broadcaster said. "I saw life a whole different way. I saw how important life was, how fragile life is."

Sure, Krukow already knew of the concept — the fragility of life. Sure, people outside California knew earthquakes were dangerous. But the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake introduced America to a real-time filmed event, not a black-and-white picture in a history book.

So unusual was the experience, however, very few people inside Candlestick immediately knew of the devastation. This was before cell phones and texting and instant messaging. Initially it felt like a reason to party.

"Within minutes," said Giants vice president for ballpark operations Jorge Costa, who has been with the team for 25 years, "someone had drawn up a poster that read: 'Now Wait Until The Giants Take The Field!'"


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