The 1989 Giants and the Earthquake World Series
Posted on October 18, 2009
General overall stadium view of Candlestick Park at sunset in San Francisco, California in 1989. Candlestick Park was the home of the San Francisco Giants. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Candlestick Park was my favorite place in the world. As a young boy I adopted the San Francisco Giants as my team. I had to. My father Al Mangin and my older sister Paula Mangin were Giants fans. I grew up in the east bay loving the Giants and hating the Oakland A’s. I did not care that Candlestick was called everything from a pigsty to a dump to the coldest place on earth. It was where my team played. It was my park. I loved everything about it- even the lime green Astroturf that covered the field for most of the 1970’s. My park, my beloved Candlestick Park, became a hero twenty years ago this week when it saved over 60,000 lives by remaining rock solid before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the A’s and Giants.
The 1989 Giants club was the best team to play at Candlestick since I became a fan as an 8-year-old in 1973. The 1987 team had been good, but this 1989 team was very special. They finally had a lead off man in Brett Butler. Will Clark was a genuine superstar. Kevin Mitchell had a monster season and Big Daddy Rick Reuschel arrived in a late season trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates to solidify the pitching staff. Throw in closer Steve Bedrosian and the steady double play combination of Robby Thompson and Jose Uribe and this was a special team.
IN 1989 I was a 24-year-old newspaper photographer on staff at the San Ramon Valley Times, a small daily newspaper in the east bay suburb on Danville. Our paper was a small sister paper of the larger Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, the paper I interned for in 1987 and 1988 while I was a student at San Jose State University. In Danville we mostly covered local Little League and high school sports, but on occasion I would get a chance to shoot the Giants or the A’s on assignment for the entire chain. More often than not the only time I got out to Candlestick in 1989 was to take my season credential and shoot on my day off. The press dinner in the Curley Grieve Media Lounge was still free back then!
The 1989 season was a special one for Bay Area baseball fans. The Giants were having a nice year, and across the Bay the A’s were the best team in baseball. The A’s had an awesome offensive lineup led by Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Their pitching staff was led by starters Dave Stewart and Bob Welch, with Dennis Eckersley slamming the door on everyone in the 9th inning. The awesome A’s team had been upset by the miracle Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 season. The 1989 A’s team was on a mission, and they were just beating the crap out of everyone in the American League. Then they acquired home town hero Rickey Henderson in a mid season trade with the Yankees and it was all over.
I enjoyed watching the A’s because they were so good, but most of my attention was spent on the Giants as they closed out the season by winning the National League West and faced off against the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs. I had the chance to shoot games 4 and 5 of the NLCS at Candlestick. Game 4 was a thriller highlighted by a big Matt Williams home run and a typically scary Bedrosian save. Game 5 was played on a spectacularly warm Monday afternoon (noon start) at The Stick and I was shooting from a spot down the left field line past third base. Clark got the big hit off Cubs closer Mitch Williams, Bedrock got another scary save and the Giants had won their first pennant in 27 years!
After the final out I ran from my position to the infield and shot wildly with my 20mm lens on my Canon F1 loaded with Kodak 100 ASA color negative film. I had no idea what I was doing, but I finally made one decent frame (above) of Brett Butler going nuts. The Giants were going to the World Series and they were gonna face the A’s! Oh man were we in trouble.
The Giants got shut down by Dave Stewart in Game 1 in Oakland, and I had the chance to shoot Game 2 on Sunday night. Once again the A’s dominated the Giants. The A’s were the better team, but I was hoping things would get better when the Giants returned home to face the A’s in Game 3 on Tuesday night, October 17, 1989. I was off that day and went to my parents house in Fremont to with the game with my dad. I was watching the pre-game show in the family room when the earth shook at 5:04 pm. My dad and I were shook up but OK. Our immediate thoughts upon seeing the reports of damage and fires in San Francisco was the well-being of my sister Paula who worked in The City and lived in the Marina, which was on fire.
It turns out my sister was safe. Paula was in the bathroom at Chiat/Day (an advertising agency where she worked at the time) washing her hands and about to run out the door to Pat O’Shea’s to watch the Series when it happened. She eventually headed back to her apartment (which was later red tagged and rebuilt), got drunk, and grabbed a jar of peanut butter and a box of Lucky Charms, and ate it all for dinner at a friend’s house. Later that week she had 15 minutes to go back to her place with an engineer and one friend to get everything she owned out of her apartment. Both my sister and her friend Desiree both threw everything they could out of her 3rd story window to a friend waiting below. Most importantly, my sister rescued all of her shoes.
The Series eventually resumed 10 days later on a cold Friday night at the recently patched up Stick. The old lady had hel firm and saved lives, but she could not help out the Giants who got demolished that night. I was listening on the radio while shooting a high school football game for the paper at San Ramon Valley High School. I ended up shooting Game 4 with my good friend and mentor Dan Rosenstrauch from the Contra Costa Times. It was very anti-climactic and the final outcome was never in doubt as the A’s held on for a 9-6 win to finish a four game sweep to win their only World Championship of the Bash Brothers era. The A’s celebrated on the Giants home turf (see above). The Giants were whipped by a better team. They could not blame their defeat on the Quake or anything else. I was back to shooting prep football and little kids soccer in San Ramon the following week.
I still love Candlestick Park. there is a special feeling that comes over me when I go back to the ol’ pigsty to shoot a 49er game. I have dreams of the Giants going back to play a weekend series against the Dodgers someday. I was not in the ballpark on October 17, 1989. I was in my childhood home in Fremont. The Mangin family home stood firm keeping my dad and I safe. The Stick also held firm and kept many of my friends safe. I will never forget that.