jayellebee's Blog

December 25, 2013

Candlestick Park

Candlestick Park     The first time I took my sons to Candlestick Park was in the 1980s. The boys, ages five, nine and twelve, were avid Little Leaguers and excited to see the San Francisco Giants in action. Everything I knew about baseball I had learned from watching children play on one school field or another. At those games, the label “home” and “visiting” team only indicated which gaggle of easily-distracted kids batted first.

So, once our quartet had settled into The Stick’s nosebleed seats on a windy summer afternoon, I asked, “Who’s the home team?”Giants Logo

I’ve never been shy about embarrassing my children in public. But I prefer to do so intentionally, not out of ignorance. It’s been a few years, but as I recall their reactions to my question included eye rolling, groaning, and furtive glances at the people seated nearby to see if my stupidity had been overheard.

My sons schooled me on the fine points of America’s Game, and over the years we returned to Candlestick once or twice each season. In the era of Will Clark and Robby Thompson, I grew to know favored players’ names, positions and jersey numbers.

In 2000, the Giants bequeathed Candlestick to the San Francisco Forty Niners, and moved uptown to the brand-spanking-new, built-for-baseball Pac Bell Park. My sons have been there often, and tell me the curly fries are primo. But for a variety of reasons, I’ve only seen the new stadium from a distance.

niners' game 027     2013 has been the Niners’ farewell season at The Stick. Their new home nears completion in Santa Clara. One last family outing to our old stomping grounds seemed in order. But now that we live in four towns and cities scattered across two states, pulling the crew together was a bit more complicated than it used to be. Major logistical planning included a road trip and overnight hotel stay for two of us.

On December 8th, wearing my winter-weight thermals and every other piece of cold weather clothing I possess, I walked through Candlestick’s parking lot with my three towering sons.  The children I used to herd into the stadium took control and shepherded their little mother. The crowd became a packed mass of humanity at the entry gate. When we moved, we moved as one, incapable of individual locomotion in any direction. Thoughts of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which rattled that very ground during the opening activities of the World Series, shook me to my quivering soul. The plot of “Two Minute Warning,” too scary to contemplate, was banned from conscious thought.

Eventually our tickets were inspected and we received our souvenir rally towels. niners' game 039The reality that we weren’t heading up the tall escalators hit home. We would be close enough to the field to see the players’ faces! Our seats were even better than expected as the entire first quarter played out right in front of us. The game, my first NFL experience, was exciting. The final score, with the Niners beating the Seahawks 19 – 17 in the final 90 seconds, provided a perfect ending.

But my highlight reel features brothers cheering to the point of becoming hoarse; brothers hugging in excitement; sons explaining the nuances of the game to their mom; neighboring fans high-fiving the informed heckling of my youngest. My personal sound track has a high volume setting and is heavy with laughter.

A crescent moon rose above the rim of Candlestick as we made our last-ever exit that afternoon. We paused for a final photo op with our old friend in the niners' game 047background. Fellow Niner fans who had been strangers a few hours before leapt into the frame. Brotherly Love was the prevailing emotion of the moment – for family members and members of the family of man in general.

How does a “game” generate such goodwill? I don’t know. But perhaps the world would be a more peaceful place if international heads of state could meet at a stadium and root for the same team.  I mean, think about it. I hear Candlestick has some open dates before demolition is scheduled.

Me? I won’t be able to join the presidents, premiers and high-level mucky-mucks. I’ll be at my first Giants game in their new home. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen the Boys of Summer play ball. And I have no intention of waiting very long before getting together with the Brown Brothers again. Color me one happy mother.

Go Niners!

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