Quake shocks fans at 1989 World Series



In terms of calamity and coincidence, few nights will ever rival this one. It was the last moments in 1989 when, for the Bay Area, a distraction still mattered; when friends and neighbors were rivals.

"We had not looked well in the first two games in Oakland," said Giants announcer Mike Krukow.

When we still took solid ground for granted.

"Like yesterday, it is like yesterday," said Giants Senior Vice President of Ballpark Operations Jorge Costa.

Loma Prieta hit most of America as a burst of electronic snow. In Candlestick Park, the sensation was more profound.

"It was like being pulled by a magnet," said Costa.

"I saw the earth actually move," said Giants season ticket holder Betty Schwartz.

"It felt like a 600 pound gopher going under your feet at 45 miles an hour," said Krukow.

There are 65,000 versions of what happened in the stadium that afternoon.

Giants announcer Mike Krukow was still a player. Betty and Milt Schwartz are long-time season ticket holders. And, Jorge Costa ran stadium operations, then and now.

"If you did a psychological study of that one hour, you just run the gamut of everything," said Costa.

For a people born blasé about quakes, it took time to get the magnitude of what had happened.

"The place erupted. They were like just having fun with it," said Krukow.

"It was really just fine and let's go on with the ball game," recalls Milt Schwartz.

But that wouldn't last not as fans listened to radios, or looked into their portable televisions, and saw the Marina on fire or obstacles to getting home.

It took only a few minutes for the baseball diamond to become a mall, filled with fans and players, alike.

"It's just a matter of where are your loved ones? What is your status? Are you all right?" said Krukow.

It was a remarkable scene; athletes who had been on pedestals, just moments before, all part of a melting pot in which nobody asked for autographs.

"It was a community type thing. There were no A's fans, no Giants fans, there was no separation, it was just simply that we were in the midst of crisis," said Krukow.

"They were kind of in shock I think," said Milt Schwartz.

"They just were bewildered, bewildered," said Betty Schwartz.

Before long, rumors swirled about stress in the stadium's upper deck, and chunks falling from above.

The damage would prove to be minimal, but nobody knew that, yet. The ballpark had no power. No scoreboard, no public address, only a police car.

"We did not want to say 'the game has been postponed due to an earthquake.' So we actually, strategically said 'the game was postponed due to a temporary power disruption,'" said Costa.

Even today, people compliment Jorge Costa for his role in the evacuation, but he's the first one to say that Candlestick's crowd left on its own and without panic. In the players parking lot, both Giants and A's mingled, still dressed for the game. Then they left.

"When is the last time you went home in uniform?" asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.

"I was in little league the last time I did that," said Krukow.

But, for all that went wrong that day, Candlestick Park and the World Series also played major roles in what went right. For starters, when the quake hit, the stadium was only half filled, which reduced stress on the structure. And then, there were all the people who went home early that day to watch the game on TV. They weren't on freeways or bridges.

"Lucky, really, lucky, it could have been so much worse," said Costa.

In baseball's history books, the 1989 World Series shows a 10-day postponement between games two and three, and that the A's won in four straight. Most important, records don't mention how a World Series that began by dividing a region, finished by unifying it.

"When the bottom line drops, and there is a disaster, people are good. People are beautiful and its people who get you through it. And I learned that 20 years ago, and I never forgot it," said Krukow.

Web exclusive content commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. Includes extended interviews with reporters who covered the quake, as well as city officials and first responders who lived through it all.

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