At the very south end of San Francisco, at the eastern edge by the bay, along Highway 101 is Candlestick Point. At one time it was home to Candlestick Park, the massive concrete stadium where the San Francisco Giants played baseball and the San Francisco 49ers played football. It has surely been home to many events – monster truck shows, rock concerts, soccer matches. It was a large stadium made of concrete and a place best used to watch the 49ers play their gladiator sport. No soft chairs and few cozy luxury boxes. It was made like a parking garage and had that same lack of warmth. You could get a seat high in the upper deck and watch the little ants down below. If you missed the amazing play, there was no instant replay – too bad. You spilled your beer and missed the interception all at once. The accommodations and locker rooms for the players were surely not as they are today. Candlestick was a fitting place to see grown men push and shove each other around for an afternoon.
In the 1960s Willie Mays caught fly balls out in center field. By the 1990s you could get into the bleacher seats in left field for a few bucks, squint your eyes and see Will Clark nervously try to send a runner in from second. Of course, Candlestick is famously known for the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s when the Lomo Prieta earthquake hit and everyone thought for a second the world might end.
In the late fall the weather would often be that Indian summer time of year when the the temperature was at a human ideal, the wind light out of the east and the light would have that warm autumn glow. It was football weather. The 49ers played many classic games at Candlestick. Joe Montana connecting with Jerry Rice. John Taylor running back kickoffs. Steve Young running wild until the doctor said that it may be better just to throw the ball to keep all the marbles upstairs intact. Then there were games in the winter storms when the field would be wet. The storm coming in from Alaska and a high tide would make the field like a pig slop.
When you landed at San Francisco International Airport and caught a cab into town, you would often drive up 101 past Candlestick and see the stadium there poetically on the point. True to its moniker, at night it would often be lit up. It seemed a bit timeless, like the Parthenon, and you innocently thought that it would somehow always be there watching over the bay. For a time the name would be bought out. The speaker cable company, Monster Cable, purchased the naming rights and called it Monster Park, not realizing that people assumed it was for the job website. Other large companies, usually in the telecommunications industries, would then take over the naming rights. No one remembers their names now. People in San Francisco would always just call it Candlestick.
Which brings me to Candlestick Park. The stadium was torn down many years ago. One day it was there and the next it is gone. Phfff! All that concrete surely broken up and hauled away to be recycled one truckload at a time. Now when you get off the plane and drive north along the bay, you have to explain to your friend that once a large stadium loomed there. Remember that hill that you would see from the blimp. That’s the same lonely hill. Where the stadium was is now fenced in. It is mostly grassy fields and when it rains ducks and redwing black birds hangout in the ponds that once was around the fifty yard line. It is quiet save for the never ending hum of Interstate 101 a half mile away.
The 49ers left Candlestick years ago and now play down in Santa Clara. The South Bay and all the tech money bought them out. On Saturday, January 20, 2024 they will play the Green Bay Packers in a classic playoff match up. Two young quarterbacks will duel it out and try as best they can to not make mistakes. They will push and shove, run, pass, block and kick. People will go into the blue medical tent to see if their marbles are still round. There is rain in the forecast so the field may be a bit wet. No one will care how high the tide will be at game time. All that matters now is which team scores the most points and maybe who gets the ball last.