AP NEWS
Related topics

Frightened Players Dashed out of Dugouts; Concrete Overhang Rippled

October 18, 1989

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Frightened ballplayers dashed out of their dugouts and stunned fans watched the concrete overhang ripple above their heads as Tuesday’s earthquake struck and forced cancellation of a World Series game at Candlestick Park.

″It could have been a catastrophe,″ said Will Clark, the San Francisco Giants star first baseman. ″We had one in L.A. last year, but this was more scary because we have a packed house here.″

Security guard Mark Dandridge, 26, said he saw a stadium light tower sway, ″and then I looked down to the luxury boxes and I saw all that starting to shake, and I said ‘Oh, God help us 3/8’ ″

In right field, a section of the upper stands separated by about six inches, and several cracks ran down the concrete aisle.

″The people two to three rows in front of me had big pieces of metal several inches, fall on their heads,″ said fan David Guzzetti, a city council member from Chico.

But baseball commissioner Fay Vincent said no major injuries were reported.

Game No. 3 of the championship series between the Giants and the Oakland Athletics had been scheduled to start at 5:31 PDT. The quake struck at 5:04. Viewers of ABC’s World Series pre-game show saw the picture turn to static and heard an unidentified voice yell, ″We’re having an earth...″ before the transmission was cut off.

The picture then disappeared and the network put up a still slide for the World Series, before switching to the program ″Roseanne.″

Baseball officials quickly canceled the game, and several aftershocks struck later, hastening evacuation of the stadium.

Fans in the sellout crowd of about 60,000 remained calm when the tremors struck. There was no booing or complaining from fans when the game was postponed.

Carl and Bernie Epolite of San Jose decided to leave as soon as they felt the first aftershock, about 35 minutes after the quake. They were sitting in the upper deck under a concrete overhang.

″We saw the overhang starting to ripple,″ Carl said. ″It rippled all around the stadium, but we kind of took it in stride, and people started cheering. Some people took it as a good sign for the Giants, that it was a sign from God that the Giants would start winning.″

Giants utility player Ken Oberkfell was sitting on the bench when ″I felt everything shaking, so I made a mad dash for the middle of the field.″

Umpire Al Clark was still in the umpires’ dressing room when the quake hit.

″It was one of the scariest situations I’ve ever been in. As soon as it started, my legs went numb,″ he said. ″I looked up, and the walls were waving. I became frightened, and I realized it was an earthquake.″

Said Oakland slugger Jose Canseco, ″I didn’t know where I was for five seconds.″

″I heard (Giants batting coach) Dusty Baker yell ‘Earthquake 3/8’,″ San Francisco catcher Terry Kennedy said. ″I thought he was kidding and just trying to keep things loose.″

Players first reacted with nervous laughter, Kennedy said. Said fan David Sanderford of Long Beach: ″I thought people were stomping in the upper deck. But then as it got a little stronger, I knew it was a quake. People jumped up and gave each other some high fives. They thought it was an omen for a good game.″

The seriousness of the situation became clear when the field started to rumble, Kennedy said. ″I knew something was wrong when I saw the first base dugout moving. My first thought was to look for my wife in the stands,″ he said.

″We found out where the priorities of life are. The World Series doesn’t mean anything compared to what happened in this city tonight. People were hurt and people lost their homes, it makes me feel sick.″

AP RADIO
Update hourly