Monday, October 17, 2011

Memories of the Bay Bridge Series

Twenty two years ago today  I was sitting at Candlestick park waiting for Game 3 of the World Series to start. The Giants were playing the Oakland A's in the "Bay Bridge Series" The Giants were down 2 games to none but this was the first home game and we were sure things were gong to turn around. The crowd was excited and anticipation was building for the game to start.

It was the first (and only) World Series game I ever attended. We had gone in on a "strip" of tickets with some guys I worked with and we were able to go to one of the playoff games and one World Series Game. If it went to 6 games we would get to go to two. The Giants had to win so we could come back again. We actually had great seats, which was funny because we were not season ticket holders. We just sort of lucked out. Section 10 under the overhang just behind third base. We met the couple next to us at the playoff game and of course they were back for the World Series. They were entertaining and hilarious and this was going to be great.

At 5:04PM I felt the place starting to shake. I grinned thinking it was the people above me stamping their feet but realized immediately that only happened in bleachers, not in concrete stadiums. What was this? My eye went to a television cameraman who was standing in a "cage" handing off the mezzanine level. It was there just for the World Series. I watched him lose his balance and hold onto that side of that cage with all his might.He looked frightened but for a split second I didn't know why.  At that very moment the ground under me felt like it was undulating. I looked at Steve and we just rode that earthquake out. It was easily the biggest one I've ever felt before or since. We were experiencing the Loma Prieta earthquake which was 7.1 on the Richter scale.

Immediately after it stopped there was dead silence and then a ROAR arose from the crowd, It was really almost a cheer. I learned later that Atlee Hammaker, a pitcher for the giants said, "That was the tide turning." Everyone was still focused on the World Series. The Giants were going to turn it around for sure now. The immediate shout of relief, fear, exuberance, whatever, quickly gave way to concern. The television the guy in front of us had been watching lost its picture.

I was about 8 weeks pregnant with Tim and perhaps a teeny bit more emotional than most people there. I told Steve I wanted to go home. Eddie was 18 months old and my friend Anna was watching him. I just wanted out. Steve said we just have to wait. I begged him to move out from under the overhang. Steve said "that's reinforced steel and concrete, it's not going anywhere."  Just then the picture can back on the man's tv and we were looking at pictures of the collapsed Bay Bridge. I looked at Steve and said, Oh, really? Whats THAT made out of?" We moved.

It wasn't necessary. Candlestick park was not collapsing. The game was called off, of course and we made our way back to the car. It took three hours to get home  - in fact it was 1.5 hours just to get out of the parking lot. I was frantic, but outwardly calm. Everyone was. it was a beautiful day. Spectacularly clear. We could see the smoke in the Marina from  the fires. We were listening to disaster reporting. That was strange. They were talking about US, but we were fine.

Power was out everywhere. It was a long slow trip home.We kept hearing the same reports over and over. There was no discussion about our neighborhood at all. I said that's probably good news - or the entire place is gone and there's no one to report it. (Still not quite as calm as I could have been.) As we drove through the Richmond District, I saw lots of damage especially at the corner houses. As we neared Anna's house I saw a crowd of people at an Irish Bar on Geary. It was powered by candles, but the place was packed. I considered this a good sign. We retrieved Eddie who told us about BIG SHAKES. (He was also mad that Anna had stolen the batteries out of his toy to use in a flashlight).

When we arrived at home my brother in law Jim was sitting on our front steps, his finger stitched up from glass falling on him. He couldn't make it across the Bay to Oakland where his wife (my sister Kate) and her (then) three kids were waiting. Somehow they had connected by phone, so each knew the other was ok. Jim said he walked to our house from downtown (probably 4 miles) because he knew it would be standing. Steve had bolted the house to the foundation a few months before. He and Steve started eating the melting ice cream and drinking the beer that was getting warm. Eddie needed to go to bed so I laid down with him and listened to my Sony Walkman for updated reports. There weren't any. It was too early.

In the light of day we learned more about he Bridge collapse and the people killed there and on the freeway in Oakland. We learned about the extent of the fire in the Marina and learned of more victims there. In our house we saw that a few things had broken - but just a few. The fish tank had sloshed over and damaged the wood floor, but that was it. We felt very very lucky.

The World Series continues a few weeks later, but nobody really cared anymore. There were bigger tings to worry about. The Giants lost the series 4-0 and didn't return until 2002 and didn't win it until 2010. I didn't even make an attempt to go to the series in 2002 or 2010. I think my one experience at a World Series game was enough

1 comment:

  1. I cant believe its been 22 years!! I lived through it in the Richmond Dist!! Took me an hour to drive home to the Sunset and I gave many stranded people on Park Presidio a ride. Glad we both made it:)


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