Memories of ‘The Stick’

A baseball fanatic’s fond recollections of Candlestick Park

The author is a husband and father who writes about craft beer for Northwest Brewing News, and admittedly is hung up on baseball.

When Candlestick opened in 1960, I remember my Dad griping that Willie Mays’ cap flew off too much.

In 1963, Cardinal Gary Kolb warmed up with Dal Maxvill. I flipped a rubber dog toy, with a bell inside, to Kolb. He threw the toy to the skinny shortstop. Maxvill’s reaction? His middle finger. I laughed, and nicknamed him “The Rod.”

Watching from frosty 1966 bleacher seats as Giants catcher Dick Dietz batted, some guy shouted out, “Hey, Dietz. Smoke joints!” Dietz’s reaction? He blasted a homer right at the guy!

In 1974, a foul ball found me while I carried a tapper keg in a Styrofoam chest. I had not even yelled “Smoke joints!” I dropped the cooler, missed the ball, and the little keg rolled toward the field.

Between games of a 1974 doubleheader, a friend and I hurried outside to the bus and grabbed a cooler stocked with beer. With a piece of lettuce on the ice for adornment, the entry guard asked what was in there. I answered, “Picnic supplies.” He granted return passage.

In 1975, it was Oroville’s Gary Nolan and his Reds. A group of Gary’s Oroville High classmates had gathered at The Stick to celebrate our local friend’s accomplishments. We’d bought cheap red plastic batting helmets and resembled a tomato patch.

Working as a stringer for the Oroville Mercury Register, I witnessed “Willie McCovey Day.” Number 44 appreciated the photo album I gave him.

I remember the walk on the wire by Karl Wallenda in 1977. The 72-year-old high-wire artist walked on a cable suspended across the infield. He died the next year in Puerto Rico while performing his act.

In 1979, my infant daughter, Jessie, was on field in my backpack. Later, in the fifth grade, she was granted a press pass, only to have some good old boys oust her from the press box. Tears all around.

Driving from Oroville for three consecutive days in 1982, I shot probably the only still photo of Joe Morgan’s homer that eliminated the Dodgers from the National League playoffs.

I recall the 1984 All-Star Game, plus many Candlestick visits to see the Mets and my college roommate, Bud Harrelson. We attended San Francisco State and lived with two other guys on the Great Highway. Bud and I played catch by the Pacific Ocean. All were lovely days.

But snuff the flame at Candlestick. The wrecking ball says it is time to go.