Candlestick Park holds some very fond childhood memories for me. When I learned it was scheduled for demolition in 2015 I got all sentimental and sappy. There were so many memories made here with family and friends who are no longer with us. So many experiences and special moments shared with some of our favorite people.
Sooooo… back in 2013, with me feeling all nostalgic about the place and fearing Isaac’s life would somehow be missing something if he never had the chance to walk some of the same ballpark hallways I did as a kid, I bought tickets for us to tour the park. The tour was awesome and informative (for instance: did you know the Raiders played at Candlestick for a bit? Surprisingly, Oscar didn’t. Not-so-surprisingly, I didn’t either). We walked out of the park with smiles on our faces and I somehow felt a sense of closure (I know. We are totally talking about a ballpark. Aaaaand, I might be a bit crazy.) Then, fast forward a year and some months later, I hear demolition started. Whaaaat? Not yet. Too soon. What am I even talking about? Regardless, feelings of nostalgia began creeping in once again. And here we are. Let me explain (or try to).
To me, Candlestick Park was…
… where I was first introduced to professional sports. Baseball. The San Francisco Giants. And I’ve been a loyal fan ever since.
… where I had a hard time saying good-bye the first time, some 16 years ago. I’m not exactly sure why. Because, let’s face it, AT&T Park is pretty right on. But I did.
… where Lou Seal belly-bumped my sister up against the wall. I laughed. She wasn’t so amused. (How could he have known about her intense fear of animal mascots?)
… where I met Kruk and Kuip, while they were on the air, in the KNBR box. Richard Bianchi, a close family friend, walked me right on in, as if he was walking into his own kitchen, and introduced me. They liked Richard, so they waved politely while continuing their commentation. I guarantee no one listening at home knew any different- because they’re that good!
… where “Happy Birthday Kristen & Katie” was plastered on the jumbo screen. As far as we were concerned this was the coolest thing ever. I didn’t even mind (nor did I mention) my name was misspelled. Because, frankly, it just didn’t matter.
…where I ‘caught’ a ball during batting practice. Let me explain: Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (during a year when Barry Bonds was wearing a Pirate’s uniform), we got to Candlestick early enough to watch batting practice. The Pirates were up and one of the players hit a ball close to where we were standing. The usher grabbed the ball, walked over towards the crowd and tossed it to me. To ME. Whoa! I was in 5th grade… and still remember the moment the ball landed in my hand. So did I actually ‘catch’ it? In my mind I had.
…where our friends shared their luxury box with us. This is where I met Orlando Cepeda for a brief moment (as he was signing balls and I hadn’t the slightest clue who I was talking to), waved to Don Johnson in the box next to us (I definitely recognized him!), and passed by Vanilla Ice and Tommy Lasorda (not at the same time) in the halls. Long live the ’90s!
…where I first saw fireworks that blew my mind. These were legit fireworks, like I had never before seen. One burst into a smiley face. A smiley face! Incredible. I still can’t wrap my mind around how it all works.
…where I shared game moments with my grandpa. I loved how engaged he was in the game. He actually watched it… carefully. I can’t say the same for myself. He was an avid bay area sports follower and a very loyal Giants fan. We were all together when the Giants won the 2010 World Series, after many torturous years of almosts, and that’s a memory I will treasure forever. I miss him a lot.
…where my family hung out together on many game days. We trotted down the hill towards the stadium after parking what seemed like 6 miles away. I always had butterflies in my stomach. Not exactly sure why. Maybe it was the immense presence of such a fun landmark? Or the excitement of game day? All I know is I still feel those butterflies when I go to a game.
…where I first took a sip of alcohol, as an adult, in the presence of my family. I felt so grown up.
As usual, I might have gone a little overboard glamorizing it all. But for many years, as far as I was concerned, the only ballpark in existence was Candlestick. I now understand the architectural and geographic nuances of the stadium- but none of that mattered much to me. I was just there for the experience (and for the thrill… and the snacks).