That’s all, folks! Candlestick Park, the stadium that Willie Mays, Joe Montana and Barry Bonds once called home, fielded its last sporting event on Sunday when Atletico Madrid defeated Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes in a penalty kick shootout.
The sports and entertainment venue located in the Bayview Heights section of San Francisco was heralded as one of the windiest, foggiest and, when the sun went down, coldest venues of all American ballparks. During a 1961 All-Star game, Giants junk-ball pitcher Stu Miller was supposedly blown off the mound in the middle of his wind up. Although many years later, the deceptive right hander denied that it was the wind that knocked him off the mound, the incident became a symbol for just how breezy “The Stick” could get.
The Giants made their debut at the park in April of 1960 in a game against the St Louis Cardinals. Although for financial reasons the team was persuaded to leave the storied Polo Grounds and New York in 1958 after 75 seasons, they were forced to play their first two seasons in the Bay Area at the minor-league ballpark Seals Stadium. Candlestick Park suffered continuous delays in construction due to union and management squabbles. Over the years the park enjoyed a series of upgrades, including after the 1989 World Series earthquake.
Famously, Candlestick Park hosted the 1981 season’s NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, when Joe Montana threw a touchdown pass to Dwight Clark, known as ‘The Catch,” which won the game. In a Sports Illustrated article, Montana explained that he never saw “The Catch,” since he had just been knocked to the ground by Ed “Too Tall” Jones.
Montana said, “I saw Dwight’s feet touch the ground. I heard the crowd scream.” Joe later expressed his amazement at how high Clark had jumped. Legend has it that the wide receiver said Jones reacted to the play saying, “You just beat America’s Team” to Joe Montana after Clark had caught the pass. Montana replied, “Well, you can sit at home with the rest of America and watch the Superbowl.”
Yet, with the thousands of games that have been played at Candlestick Park, perhaps it was a performance by four soon to be rock icons singing pop songs that provided the venue with its most memorable occasion. On August 29th 1966, The Beatles performed their last concert together at Candlestick on no less than a cold, windy, and foggy night.
Perhaps “Yesterday,” a song played in that last concert could be a fitting tribute to Candlestick Park since it will be demolished this coming fall to make way for a housing development, retail stores, and an apartment complex.