Grantland has posted an oral history of the 1989 World Series, famous as the Earthquake series, although Bay Area fans also remember it as the only time the two local teams met in the Series (and A’s fans remember the sweep with some pleasure, while Giants fans are a bit embarrassed by it).
It hits home for me because I was at Candlestick for Game Three. Everyone has their earthquake story, and I’ve posted mine here before, I’m sure. In brief: I still remember the steel railing in front of me warping like it was made of silly putty. I remember seeing Jack Buck shortly afterwards … the look in his face was “I’m 65 years old, I don’t need this shit any more”. I remember the roar from the crowd when the quake had passed, as if it was an omen from the gods that the Giants had nature on their side. And I remember someone saying “the Bay Bridge is broken” and not knowing what that meant until someone with a handheld TV showed us the live footage.
The oral history is fascinating because it records the reactions of a good cross-section: players, of course, and other associates of the teams, the media, and fans in attendance.
Read the whole thing, but here are a couple of excerpts I liked:
Dennis Eckersley on the A’s attitude: “We were supposed to win. You know what I mean? We had a team not necessarily of cocky guys, but a lot of confident guys. Rickey and the Bash Brothers doing their thing. Me pointing at batters and shit like that. I could see how it would be interpreted.”
Eck on where he was when the quake hit: “I was in the bathroom. I was combing my hair, man.”
Candy Maldonado: “It felt like if you're surfing, like you're in a wave, and I felt myself elevating.”
The post-quake reaction … Mike LaCoss: “I'll never forget the noise. After I opened the door to the dugout, 60,000 people were standing on their feet.” Matt Williams: “Sixty thousand–plus people started chanting, ‘We will, we will, rock you!’” Jorge Costa, VP of stadium operations: “Some fan writes on a sign, ‘If you think that's something, wait until the Giants come to bat.’ I still remember that.”
On news of the Bay Bridge: Ray Ratto: “People had radios, and you could hear tidbits of the news broadcasts. ‘The Bay Bridge has collapsed … the fires in the Marina.’ This was about five minutes after the earthquake. I was going, ‘Holy crap, the rest of the world has blown up.’” George Thurlow, fan, upper deck: “The mood of the crowd was jubilant and excited and Wow, that was cool until the first radio announcements began. The first one that I have written down was, ‘The Bay Bridge is down.’” A’s VP Andy Dolich: “They didn't say a piece collapsed. It was, ‘The Bay Bridge collapsed.’ You can only think, Oh my god, this is a horror movie coming true.”
This is my favorite. During the break between games, the A’s went to Arizona to keep in game shape. Tony LaRussa thought it would be a good idea to have the A’s pitchers on the mound against the A’s hitters:
Dave Henderson: We all hated Eckersley because he was basically a dick on the mound. I'd faced the guy for 10 years and he was a dick before. The only reason we let him live was because he was on our team.
A’s GM Sandy Alderson: During that game, I think Eckersley drilled Canseco. He took a free shot at him.
Eckersley: Jose comes up to bat and he's pointing to center like Babe Ruth. The first pitch, I drilled Canseco in the back. I dunno, I guess I just got jacked up and threw as hard as I could. Jose's coming to the mound and he's pissed. Finally, everything cools down. It was a strange moment.
Dave Henderson: After it was all over, Canseco comes to me and says, "Hey, Hendu, you think Eckersley hit me on purpose?" I'm like, "You idiot. He's only walked three guys the whole year!"
And when Game Three was finally played:
Giants VP Corey Busch: We had the cast of Beach Blanket Babylon, the long-running musical, and they sang the song "San Francisco." The whole crowd sang it.
Giants VP Pat Gallagher: It was almost like people standing at church and holding hands and singing. People were collectively dealing with whatever feelings they had.
Giants athletic trainer Mark Letendre: The singing of the "San Francisco" song [pause] ... I can hear it and I just tear up.
And the video of ABC, showing what the nation saw: