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Candlestick Park

San Francisco, CA
June 30, 2003

By Ken Schlapp

I just couldn't handle a day off from Baseball, so I managed to find my way inside of Candlestick Park.  Although this stadium is now known as 3Comm Park, I grew up with it as Candlestick Park or "The Stick" so I will continue to refer to it by the original names.  The Stick was the home of the San Francisco Giants from 1960 until 1999 when the Giants moved into Pac-Bell Park.  This stadium is still the home of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.  Thanks to the help of my buddy Matt Angle here at ballparksofbaseball.com, I was able to find a contact to give me a tour of the Stick.

I was very excited to have this opportunity to see the Stick.  I happened to be in San Francisco in 1999 during the last weekend that the Giants played there and was even offered tickets, but I had already made plans with friends and had to turn them down.  Therefore, I never got the chance to see a game here, but this turned out to be just as fun.  Just getting inside was pretty interesting.  I had plans to meet Mercedes (my tour guide) at the entrance by the players' parking lot.  When I got to the gate I told the police officer what I was there for and he let me in without asking for ID. Then I parked in the players' lot and walked right inside took the elevator and found my way to Mike's (the stadium manager) office.  Note to Mike and Mercedes, you may want to check with security to make sure nobody else gets in that easy.

From there it was all fun!  Mercedes took me right down to the field, where I got to walk around the field where my favorite player, Willie McCovey starred for all those years!  The only thing was that the ground crew was in the process of preparing the field for a soccer game and there weren't any foul poles or any other Baseball signs around.  The ground crew was busy at work, but still interested in my journey.  The most amusing thing about them was that they volunteered their thoughts on Barry Bonds without my asking and let's just say that none of them said a positive thing about him.  They were all happy that he no longer plays in the stadium that they work for. During the remainder of this tour I was shown various "Bonds only" sections such as the spot on the old wooden bench in the Giants' dugout where only he was allowed to sit.  I also got to see the weight room that was built for Bonds and only Bonds and was showed where his section was in the locker rooms (which are now used by the 49ers).  I was hoping that all the negative stories about Bonds were overblown, but I even heard some negative things about him from the people that worked at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

At times it was difficult to picture just how baseball fit into this stadium, but then I had the opportunity to walk behind the removable stands that are only down for football and soccer.  These stands haven't moved since 1999 and, per the ground crew, are not likely to be movable again. But, when I walked behind the stands I was able to see the old scoreboards that were used for Giants games still intact, but not likely to ever be used again.  I know I wasn't watching a game, but I couldn't help but have a blast walking around here.  After my tour finished I even got to spend about an hour just Bsing about Baseball with Mike in his office.  The most interesting thing there was the base on his wall signed by all the Giants players that played in the last Baseball game at the Stick in 1999.

Even after that I still couldn't get enough of Baseball, so I went out to the former site of Seals Stadium, the Giants very first home in San Francisco.  The Giants played there first two West Coast seasons at Seals Stadium, which was on 16th and Bryant.  This stadium was more well-known as the home of the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League from 1931 until 1957, when the Giants took over.  Unfortunately, there is nothing to mark that this was the long time site of Baseball in San Francisco. However, just across the street, the Double Play Bar & Grill does still exist, so I went inside for a beer.  This bar was the watering hole for many fans both before and after games since 1909.  You can now find loads of sports memorabilia, including the top of the flagpole from Seals Stadium, inside the Bar.  Outside the bar you will find a sign on the building that says "On Deck Seals Stadium".

Finally, I found my way to Left O'Doul's at 333 Geary Street by Union Square.  Lefty was a San Francisco native that was a star over 11 major league seasons as a pitcher and then as an outfielder (he finished with a .349 career average), but is more remembered in this city as the manager of the Seals from 1935 until 1951.  There is also plenty of Baseball memorabilia throughout the restaurant to keep your eyes busy while you are enjoying your meal and the food was pretty good too.

My only glitch on this day was poor flash card management.  I had 2 flash cards with 128 MB of memory on each to store the digital pictures I was taking throughout the trip.  Each card can store about 220 high quality pictures, but since I was taking so many pictures they were getting filled up pretty quickly.  As backup, I had 2 laptops to download the pictures to while freeing up space on the flash cards.  I, however, accidentally deleted the wrong flash card and lost over a week worth of pictures from my journey. I realized my dumb mistake right away and immediately removed the disk before I could do any more damage.  The card was made by Kingston Technologies, so I called them right away to see if I could recover the pictures, because I needed them for my articles and possibly a book. Luckily for me, Larry Davis at Kingston Technologies felt that he could help me.  So I immediately sent the card to him via overnight mail, where he was able to recover all my pictures, save them on a CD, and provide me with a brand new flash card.  The most amazing thing though was that they did not charge me a dime!  I am in debt to them for their great save.

Bottom line - I had a total blast visiting the Stick, Seals Stadium, and Lefty O'Doul's, but most importantly don't make the same mistake that I did with your pictures.  If you do, just contact Kingston Technologies and hopefully they can help you like they did help me.

Basic trip facts:
Old Stadium Sites visited - Candlestick Park and Seals Stadium (Total - 8)
Miles traveled - 56 via Car (Totals: Driving - 7,226, Subway - 20, Air - 3,196, Total - 10,462)
States, provinces and/or commonwealths passed through - California (Totals: States - 24, Provinces - 0, Commonwealths - 1)
Seats -Section N/A, Row N/A, Seat N/A (I had free reign of stadium) - Walked all over
Prices: Parking - $0 (I parked in players lot), Beer - N/A, Hot Dog - N/A,
Program (including pencil) - N/A, Souvenir Soda Cup - N/A
Credit Card giveaway - None
First Pitch -  1:30 PM
Attendance - 1
Results - No Game
Home team record to date - 7 wins, 7 losses
Record of "team I was routing for" to date - 4 wins, 10 losses
Lodging - Oakland, California

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