Game Three

Leanna M. Dawydiak

My memories of the Loma Prieta quake are so vivid that it could have happened yesterday.

The day of the quake, I had been looking forward to going to World Series Game 3 at Candlestick Park. I had great seats because my husband, Reno Rapagnani, was the Chief of Security for the Mayor of San Francisco, Art Agnos, so I was going to get to sit with his staff just left of home plate along the third base line. I had driven out there with my father Gene Dawydiak, stepson Reno Jr. and my sister-in-law Diane: Gene and Reno Jr. were sitting in the upper deck but Diane was below with me. We had planned to meet back at the car after the game we were sure we were going to win. Reno was busy handling things for the Mayor and I had no idea where he was.

In any case, just before the game was to start, I was looking out towards the Sony Jumbotron and suddenly I felt like there was movement under my feet and the stadium seemed to move in a circular direction; a shift, if you will, and I think it was towards the right. I could actually SEE the movement. I can only describe it like Candlestick Park was a cup on a saucer and someone was twisting the cup on top of the saucer. Being a native San Franciscan, I knew we had just had an earthquake, but I didn’t worry too much as I had been through many in my life. I think it was the “neophytes” who alerted me that this was no regular earthquake so I got moving, trying to make my way up to where my dad was sitting.

When I got to my dad’s seats, he and my stepson were sitting there like nothing had happened. I told my dad, “We need to go, this was a bad one.” He said, “You’re overreacting… the game will start any minute.” All this, in spite of the fact that both teams and their families were all down on the field holding onto each other and not at all looking like they were ready to play baseball. I tried telling my dad, “Look, the Jumbotron isn’t even working…There’s no game, Pa.”

World Series Game 3 1989

I finally got my dad to move by saying, “Let’s go down to the cop substation and see what’s up.” I was an officer in the SFPD and I knew my dad would come with me if I told him we were going to where the cops were. Sure enough, that did the trick and we found a quick route to the substation. On our way there, someone in front of us had a portable TV, which showed the Bay Bridge collapse and all the people that were trapped. After seeing that, we all knew that we had to get out of Candlestick Park in the event there were aftershocks that might bring the stadium down.

It seemed to take forever to get to our car, and then it was a very slow trek back to my parents’ house in the Richmond District. In fact, when it rains it pours, as they say, as my car started to overheat, which it never had done before. I had no idea where my husband was and worse, where my 2 year old daughter was: she was with her “surrogate” mother/babysitter, who lived on Webster Street near the Safeway in the Marina (where, as we found out later, took the worst of it).

When Reno finally got to our daughter, he couldn’t get “Mama Rosie” and Frank to leave because Frank was frantically looking all over the house for cash he had hidden all over the place (not unusual for old-fashioned Italians to do). I think my mother eventually got them out.

After dropping my father off at home, I knew I had to get to my house and make sure it was secure; this was on Museum way near the Randall Museum. Once I saw things were fine, I immediately suited up in my SFPD uniform and headed to the Hall of Justice as the call had gone out that any off-duty officer who could get into the City was to report ASAP.

I could write so much more about my duty on 6th and Stevenson…my “guarding” the Giants when they came to the Moscone Center to visit people who were homeless for the time being and getting to specifically “guard” my hero, Will Clark, who towered over me. I had to warn them that the people in the Moscone Center weren’t like the ones in the Marina, but that it was more like the inside of a prison with there being knife fights and the like.

Candlestick Banners

Tony Howard

My grandma has had Giants season tickets for as long as I can remember, and she always made sure that each person in the family got a chance to see a game…I was lucky enough to receive the World Series tickets with my father. I was 22 at the time.

We started our journey in Mendocino County that day, stopping in Sonoma County to pick up a couple deli sandwiches and some spirit-like refreshments.

We arrived at Candlestick, parked the truck and had a nice tailgate. As I drank my tall can of Sapporo and looked around at the festivities, one thing caught my interest: some of the banners and flags that were tangled in the light towers above the stadium. And there was a person climbing up one of the towers to untangle those banners.

After our tailgate picnic and drinks, we filed into the stadium and found our seats. Once we were in our seats we were getting ready for the game: the stadium was packed and the crowd was ready for baseball.

It was then that I heard the covers around the stadium lights start to bang loudly into each other, making a clanging sound. Seconds later we were riding our stadium seats while a very intense earthquake moved through. I felt a sharp pain in my shoulders and neck, and when I turned and looked, the lady behind me was digging her fingernails into my shoulders, screaming and crying: I felt bad for her and I wasn’t sure how to ask her to stop.

I then remembered the guy that had been climbing the light tower earlier; I looked over at that light tower to see him clinging to it for dear life as it was swinging.

It seemed like it lasted forever, but I am sure it was a very short time. It was surreal: time seemed to slow down and almost stand still.

Of course, I saw the players moving around the field with their families. I was jealous– I wanted to be on the ground, not in the upper deck!

Post-earthquake, my dad and some others started to chant, “Let’s play ball, let’s play ball!” We really didn’t know how serious the quake was until we started hearing reports from a transistor radio of a neighboring fan. It was then we realized that not only would we not be watching baseball but that we also didn’t know how we would get home.

We had heard the Bay Bridge and the Cypress Structure had collapsed and that there were large fires in the city. Our first thought was that we would go to some of our extended family that lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Once we got out to the truck and continued to listen to the radio, we heard that the Golden Gate Bridge was still open so we decided we would try and go home to Mendocino County before it was potentially closed.

While we were stuck in traffic in SF, working our way through the Hunters Point and the Bay View District, we watched groups of young people breaking windows and beginning to loot some of the stores. One of the looters spotted us in my truck, and yelled to his friends that he had found a pickup truck for them to use. I pulled my truck out of traffic, up on to the sidewalk, and drove out of there as fast as I could. I don’t remember stopping until Marin County.

Candlestick Limo Service

Geoff Butterfield

I was in my early twenties when the Earthquake happened, making my living as a limo driver while I attended SFSU. I had a job that day to drive a Hollywood film executive and his grandson to see the World Series game at Candlestick. I dropped them at the ticket gate and told them I would pick them up at that same spot after the game.

20 minutes after I dropped them off, the earthquake hit. I was actually sitting in the back of the limo, watching the pre-game on the TV when it felt like I had been hit by another car. I jumped out of the limo, all fired up to confront whoever had just hit my car and was stunned: all the cars in the lot were bouncing up and down. It was like a low-rider convention!

The game was cancelled and people started to leave. It was still light out and I was actually surprised at how smoothly people seemed to get out of the stadium. Everyone was pretty cool about it, but— I couldn’t find my people! I later learned that the exec had panicked and grabbed the first ride he could get. However, I stayed there until 9:00 that night — I refused to leave until I knew they weren’t there.

I remember driving down 3rd Street that night and thinking it resembled a scene from “Escape from New York”. Lots of tough characters out in the street along with the occasional trash can fire, but all was well. Made it home to Noe Valley without incident and spent the rest of the evening at the Rat & Raven commiserating with the neighbors.