Reporter’s Candlestick moment: 1989 quake


Editor’s note:Royce Feour, sports writer for the Review-Journal was attending the World Series in the San Francisco Bay area. This is a first-person account of the earthquake.

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s like the Twilight Zone, except the people here are living it.

Game 3 of the World Series was postponed for the most rare of reasons — an earthquake.

The quake hit about 5:04 p.m. PDT, (Oct. 17, 1989) and those of us in Candlestick Park could feel the tremors. I could feel the stadium shaking very noticeably.

Surprisingly, there was little or no panic in the sold-out stadium. Although it was about a half hour before the game was scheduled to start, the stadium was mostly full.

In fact, instead of panic there was almost an aura of celebration. People actually stood up and cheered — waving their arms all the time. People were making jokes about it.

However, others were inwardly worried.

The only announcement made at the stadium: If it was necesasry to evacuate, spectators were told to walk calmly to the nearest exit and leave.

Almost all of the power was off in the stadium, including the field lights, scoreboards and message board. Lights also were off in the concession stands, restrooms and stadium offices.

During the time frame between earthquake and the game being postponed, players came out of the dugouts and milled around on the field. Finally they were joined by their wives and children and walked back across the field to their dressing rooms.

Much of the crowd left before the game was postponed officially. Some people near us had miniature television sets and portable radios and we got some reports from them, including the part about the collapse of the Bay Bridge.

I attended the game with Wayne Pearson, director of development for the Museum of Natural History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Less than three hours earlier, Pearson and I had driven back across the Bay Bridge to Berkeley, Calif.

We were able to get on a crowded bus at Candlestick that was headed for downtown.

Earlier, at Candlestick and on the bus, there was merriment and joking along with the worry and concern.

In fact, someone on the bus said, “There has been no report of any damage in Marin County … but we haven’t heard from that.”

As expected, the bus was in gridlock with a World Series crowd, traffic created by the earthquake problems and the usual rush-hour jam.

Seeing a darkened San Francisco from the freeway was an eerie sight. The city was without power.

Traffic lights also were not working, resulting in chaos.

Dusk quickly turned to darkness and we got off the bus.

We had to walk more than a mile to get to the hotel.

Sidewalks and streets were littered with glass from skyscraper windows that broke during the earthquake.

Fortunately, the lobby of the San Francisco Hilton has lights from an emergency generator. The hotel has several different lobbies and thousands of people were stuck downstairs. I would have to walk 34 floors in the dark to get ot my room. I am staying in the lobby.

However, hotel staff members were passing out lemonade, soft drinks and sandwiches.

People on the house phones are frantically trying to call friends and relatives throughout the country.

I didn’t see any injuries and did not see any major damage.

I am going to let others use the telephone.

 

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