Now that the 49ers are building their new stadium in Santa Clara, the countdown to the final days of Candlestick Park has begun.
Soon, the structure that stands at the southern point of San Francisco will soon be reduced to rubble.
The ballpark originally built for the Giants has a long and storied history.
Ted Atlas published Candlestick Park: Images of Sports in 2010, waxing poetic about the futuristic looking structure that was the original waterfront ballpark.
Only Candlestick lacked the beauty and aesthetics that have made AT&T Park, arguably the finest sports facility in America.
In reviewing the book and conducting an interview with Mr. Atlas, Giants fans owe a ton of gratitude to the ‘old lady.’ It’s because of all her flaws we can truly apprciate the ballpark at 3rd and King Streets.
When considering all the problems that caused those miserable cold, windy night games with the infamous swirling hot dog wrappers that fluttered around the outfield chain link fence, Atlas said, “Compare your car in 1960 to the one in 2000.”
For its time, Candlestick was revolutionary in its design. The boomerang shaped rim at the top of the upper deck was supposed to be a wind baffle. Due to financial constraints, it was not built as originally designed by architect John Bolles.
Other necessities like escalators were also missing from the initial construction. In fact it would not be until the ballpark was enclosed in 1972 , one year after the 49ers moved into Candlestick that the structure was finally completed as intended.
Although it was bitterly cold and windy at ‘The Stick’, the ballpark hosted many historic events: The final concert of the Beatles, the 1961 and 1984 All-Star Game, numerous 49ers playoff games including ‘The Catch’. Pope John Paul II celebrated mass there with more than 70,000 attending in 1987. Most importantly, Candlestick survived the 7.1 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989 thirty minutes before Game 3 of the World Series.
Why write such a book about a maligned and blighted structure?
“An employee of the Dodgers wrote about Dodger Stadium and that book had very little information and all photos of celebrities at the stadium,” Atlas said. “But the Dodgers didn’t have five hall of famers playing at the same time, no Beatles, and no football there. Candlestick is a much more interesting place.”
Sounds like the rivalry is alive and well in comparing the authors. The book Atlas is referencing is Dodger Stadium, written by Mark Langill, the Dodgers publications editor and team historian.
Candlestick Park contains many rare photographs including a photos of the conversion to enclose the ballpark from 1969-72. When it was completed in 1960, other than Milwaukee’s County Stadium which was built in 1953, Candlestick was the first ballpark to be erected since Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium in 1931. Architect Bolles had nothing to base his design on. The structure seated 42,500 of which, 30,000 seats were between the baselines.
Bolles also considered rotating it 45 degrees to combat the wind but at the time was concerned about the sun being in the eyes of the right fielder. The Giants in building the new ballpark decided it was better to inconvenience one outfielder to accommodate 41,000 fans.
Atlas has worked game day security for the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park since 1986. He is a retired Santa Clara County Sheriff and has attended games at ‘The Stick’ since 1962.
For more information about Candlestick Park (Images of Sports), please visit Arcadia Publishing