The San Francisco 49ers' game Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons concludes more than a half-century of sports exhibitions at Candlestick Park. They were sometimes grand, sometimes mundane and sometimes awful.
Through all of it - 49ers championships, exquisite performances by myriad great Giants, heartbreak and exhilaration - Candlestick established itself as dependably unpredictable. It has been a place where chamber of commerce blue-sky days gave way to frigid nights scoured of warmth by winds harsh enough to peel paint.
Following are recollections of Sacramento Bee readers who experienced first-hand Candlestick's charm and caprice. Thanks to all who contributed. Read more and share yours on The Sacramento Bee Facebook page.
Let it blow
To bolster the reputation of Candlestick's infamous summer winds, I recall one Giants game we attended where two balks were called because the pitchers were blown off the pitcher's rubber plate during their windups by the strong wind gusts. We were sitting on the third base side and the near-gale winds whipped up so much trash blowing straight at us that we should have brought goggles to wear to protect our eyesight. Ahh, yes, Candlestick was always its own master, gone but definitely not to be forgotten. - Jim Chakedis, Carmichael
Simply put: It was cold
It was a night game in April or May of 1967. I was sitting in the left field bleachers with some friends watching a Giants game. This was my first visit to Candlestick and what I remember most was how bone chilling cold it was. I've lived in snow country since then but never was I as cold as I was on that frigid night at the 'Stick. - Roger Katz
Bonilla's break-up and 'Wine Night'
I have two. Scott Garrelts pitching a no-hitter until Bobby Bonilla of the Pirates homered to left with two outs in the ninth. My son and I were right there in the bleachers. The second was "White Wine Night" in December 1987 when the 49ers blew a 17-0 halftime lead and lost to the New York Giants; Short-sleeves weather on a night game in December, amazing. - Dave Andrakin
Wild night at the Stick
My fondest memory of Candlestick took place in a twi-night Doubleheader against the Dodgers in the late 1980s. It was an incredibly foggy night, and combined with a full moon, two long games and it being the Dodgers, it ended up being a wild night at The Stick. It also didn't help that my dad and I were with two Dodger fans proudly wearing their colors (I definitely was fearful that we were going to end up in a fight).
During the second game, the fog was so thick at the time that I was hardly able to see Brett Butler in center field from our seats behind home plate. If I couldn't see him, I was amazed at how he could see a fly ball.
At this time, fans in the bleachers were still able to leave their seats in left field and run all the way to the outfield fence for home run balls. I think the fog and full moon made these people crazy! During the second game, whenever any ball was hit anywhere near the left field fence (even short, routine fly balls), the fans would rush out of the bleachers and sprint toward the fence. After this went on for awhile, they began not only running to the fence, but climbing it as well. Some fans got all the way to the top and looked as though they were going to hop right onto the field. It was a wild and chaotic scene as this continued until the end of the second game for any ball hit out of the infield.
Not surprisingly, the next day the Giants installed barriers that restricted fans from running to the fence in left field. These barriers remained in place for the final 10 years or so of baseball at The Stick! - Kyle Calcagno
Don't mess with Willie
I was a teenager and drove up from Roseville with friends to watch the Giants play the visiting Mets in 1962. Hustling Willie Mays hit a double and slide hard into Mets second baseman Elio Chacon. Chacon immediately retaliated and punched Willie in the face; Willie then grabbed and lifted Chacon before body slamming him to the ground. Both benches emptied, and I don't remember much else. - D. Mori
Best laid plans ...
In the late 1970s, a friend of mine who grew up in S.F. and I traveled to The City to meet up and hang out with some of his old friends. It was July. We hadn't panned to go to a game but decided to go see the Giants and Dodgers. I was wearing was jeans and a tee shirt ... but off we went. With Mark Twain's words ringing in my ears, I can honestly say that I've never been so cold in my life. We sat out in the cheap seats of center field (which cost $2), dodging fights and Ron Cey homers all night. Giants lost 5-0.
In the early '90s I attended my first NFL game at the 'Stick. It was the last Monday Night Football game of the year between the Niners and the Mike Ditkas's Bears. The Niners' season was done, but the Bears were headed into the playoffs. Remembering my frozen experience from the Giants game years before, we bundled up in multiple layers of coats, sweatshirts, gloves, hats ... the whole bit.
When we got inside, it was downright balmy. We brought all those clothes for nothing. The game was great. The Niners killed the Bears and sent them limping into the playoffs. With the Bears losing, the Lions qualified for a wild card spot. My next door neighbor was born and raised in Detroit, so he loved that. Much to the confusion of fans around us, every time the Niners scored we'd high five each other and yell "Go Lions!"
There will never be another 'Stick. Gonna miss that place. - David W. Townsend, Sacramento
I coached the North/South High School All Star basbeall game at the 'Stick, June 23, 1973, when the playing surface was turf carpet. We defeated the South 4-2. The game was played prior to the Giants game. The shortstop for the South was Hall of Famer Robin Yount. A great honor and a real thrill. - Guy Anderson, baseball coach, Cordova High School
I grew up on the Peninsula and have attended hundreds of Giants games and at least 60-70 49ers games at Candlestick Park.
Of all the great memories and plays to take away from those many years one thing always sticks in my mind: THE WIND.
I can still see the hot dog wrappers swirling as if they had a life of their own. Picking one and betting the person next to me that the wrapper I chose would go higher than the wrapper they chose. Around and around and around they would go, sometimes coming to rest on the chain link fence that had bordered the outfield, and sometimes rising high enough to fly out of the top of "Windlestick Park". Thanks for the memories, Candlestick! - Ray Harrison, Sacramento
Long trip, but worth it
For people living in Lodi in the Central Valley, a trip to the 'Stick was always an event, but two stand out. On July 3, 1966, I attended a Giants-Milwaukee Braves game with my dad, younger sister and a high school buddy and saw Tony Cloniger, the Braves' starting pitcher, set a major-league record for pitchers with nine RBIs on two grand slams and a sac fly (Hank Aaron also homered in that game as the Braves won 17-3).
The second outstanding memory was on June 25, 1968, when I attended a Giants game with three college buddies and we saw Bobby Bonds hit a grand slam in his first major-league at-bat.
My two daughters have just surprised me with tickets to the last Niners' game at the 'Stick coming this Monday night - so I will get to attend with them, one grandson and one of my sons-in-law. Looking forward to another great memory. - Jerry Fessler, Lodi
In the right place
My dad, a Bay Area native and devout Niners fan, took me as a youngster to many Niners games at Kezar, then Candlestick. After the playoff disappointments in the early '70s, the Cowboys were far from our favorite team. When I was given two tickets to the NFC Championship game against the Cowboys in January 1982, there was no doubt as to who my guest would be. Our seats were in the bottom row of the upper deck of Section 57 . . . yes, right in the corner where Dwight Clark made "The Catch."
In memory of my wonderful father Ed Nelson. - Grant Nelson, Placerville
I made the first of many trips to the 'Stick as an 11-year-old boy in the summer of 1964. My Little League team went as a group to see the Giants play the Milwaukee Braves. In those days, there were bleacher seats beyond the cyclone outfield fence in center and right field, "the cheap seats," as they were known.
It was a warm day, and there must have been a hundred other Little Leaguer's there to watch also.
In the seventh inning, someone from the Braves, I can't recall who, hit a towering fly ball toward us that looked like it might clear the fence for a home run. As I and every other boy with a glove surged toward the fence from our seats in an effort to get it if it did get out, I found myself being pushed up against the back side of the fence just as Willie Mays was moving toward us from the other side to make the catch for the out. As his momentum carried him into the fence, I touched the 4 on his uniform with my right hand. As he trotted off after the play he turned and smiled at all of us and tossed the ball over the fence into our throng, and while most of the kids went after the ball, I stood there stunned at what had just happened.
Some of my teammates got autographs that day, but I had touched Willie's uniform while he was wearing it! Now 49 years later, it is still my fondest memory of Candlestick Park. - Mike Sharp, Yuba City
A family affair
One of my favorite early memories of the stick was going to the games with my dad and grandparents and older brother, Steve. My grandparents had season tickets. I remember sitting with a blanket around me in the stands drinking hot chocolate watching Mays, McCovey, and Jim Ray Hart in that order. I quickly became a fan of the San Francisco Giants at a young age.
Another great memory was in the '80s. I was sitting behind the dugout with a friend on a beautiful sunny day. Remembered the day Will Clark and Matt Williams hit two home runs each. Went back a week later, and a friend who was a vendor named Harvey, said I made the front page of the San Mateo newspaper saying, "Fans finally having something to cheer about at Candlestick Park." It was a colored picture of me (no shirt on) with my arm in the air cheering on my team. I have the picture today on a wall with other Giants memorabilia.
Took my wife, Debbie, daughter Jessica, and sons Timmy and Kevin to many Giants games over the years at Candlestick including the very last game with our son Timmy. Will truly Miss the 'Stick and all the great memories with our family. - Tim Thomas
There, but missing 'The catch'
For me, that would be "The Catch" on January 10, 1982. Smokey, my buddy, and I are in our seats in Section 31, which we've shared since 1977. He's sitting on my right, and just as Montana releases that memorable pass to Dwight Clark, my buddy, who's five inches taller than I am, rises up in anticipation and, although I'm looking in the right direction, I DON'T SEE THE CATCH!!! To this day, of course, Smokey refuses to admit that be blocked my view. - Jack Pelletier
Not a bad memory in the bunch
My grandfather Frank Palermo Senior sang the national anthem at countless S.F. baseball games in the '80s. So I have been to many games and can't recall one bad memory of over 30 years of going to games.
Couple memories stick in my head: seeing the beach boys play after a Giants game; seeing fans go crazy after a bad call and lighting their programs on fire and throwing them on the field; a foul ball hit to the third-base side ball landed in a beer cup of a guy walking by. The beer splattered about a 20-foot radius. Pretty funny. I still have my Battle of the Bay poster.
Got a ball signed by Jim Barr, ex-Giants pitcher; Joe Montana's rookie autograph and kicker and Ray Wersching's also. Watching the Giants lose to the A's in Battle of the Bay was a hard loss in 1989, but the team has come a long way. I will miss that park to some extent. - Benjamin M Palermo
When 'D' carried the day
My favorite Candlestic memory was a Monday night game against the New York Giants back when Joe Montana and Phil Simms were at their peak. This game pitted two great defenses against each other, with the final score Niners 7, Giants 3. The game came down to a goal-line stand by the Niners, and the incomparable Ronnie Lott made a touchdown-saving tackle to seal the victory. I love a high-flying offense as well as anyone, but this defensive gem I will never forget. Here's to the current Niners keeping up a great tradition. - Bill Wyles, Placerville
Building family memories
Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, my wife and I wanted to share SF Giants games with our children while they were young. Every year we would plan a game day, pick up the grandparents in the foothills, and head to "The Stick." Days could be hot, cold or in between in weather, but we all remember the games as a building block in our family memories. We continue to enjoy Giants games in the "new" park, but the seeds were planted at Candlestick. The attached picture was taken in the early '90s just after I caught a foul ball I retrieved at the game. Thanks for the memories. -- Larry Kyler, with Ben, Matt & Katie Kyler
My Top 5, for what it's worth
I grew up in the Bay area as a Dodgers (and Rams before they moved) fan and I've only lived in cities dominated by San Francisco fans: San Jose, Reno and currently Sacramento. I made probably a hundred trips to the Stick over the years, but these stand out:
1) July 2, 1962: Mets 8, Giants 5 - The first is always the best, right? My first Major League game was at Candlestick Park. We were living in San Jose and my father surprised me with the tickets the day before my parents' anniversary (I think my mom bailed at the last minute) and I remember them discussing whether, at age 6, I was old enough to go. I was, so off we went, taking Highway 101 from San Jose in our white Ford Falcon station wagon. The Giants that year ended up winning the NL pennant and the Mets set a record that still stands for futility, losing 120 games. So guess who won? That's right, the Mets. Willie Mays and Jimmy Davenport homered, Juan Marichal started but didn't get the decision, and my dad bought me a Jimmy Davenport button after the game. Just seeing the green playing field after a lifetime of black-and-white TV was a thrill I never forgot.
2) Oct. 3, 1982: Giants 5 Dodgers 3 - The final day of the 1982 season and the famous "Joe Morgan Home Run Game." The Dodgers needed a win and a Braves loss to force a play-off the next day, and the Dodgers took an early 2-0 lead, the Giants tied it, and it stayed that way until Morgan ripped a 7th-inning three-run line-drive homer that eventually eliminated the Dodgers, even though the Braves did lose. I was a prep sportswriter at the Sacramento Union at the time, and I went to the game with the late Andy Cox, who was covering it for the Union. I wasn't writing, but did secure a press pass so I could help Andy get quotes, but the press box was so packed and it was such a nice day that I spent the game just a couple of rows behind the Dodgers dugout. I was in the Dodgers locker room after the game and it turned out to be Steve Garvey's last game in an LA uniform.
3) May 3, 1995: Giants 4 Dodgers 3 - Just a normal early-season weekday game at the Stick, right? It turned out to be the most bizarre game I have ever seen live. It was Japanese pitcher Hideo Nomo 's debut, and that's what drew me out. He threw a brilliant five innings of shutout ball, but the zeros kept adding up on both sides, and when the Dodgers finally scored three in the top of the 15th for a 3-0 lead, that seemed to be the game. There were maybe a thousand people still left in the stands when, with two out and nobody on, the Giants scratched out a couple of singles and then tied it on Robby Thompson's three-run HR. A few minutes later, the Giants won it when Matt Williams' gapper scored Barry Bonds. What a game.
4) Dec. 1, 2013: 49ers 23, Rams 13 - Though I did see the 1985 NFC Championship game, this is the only football game to make this list, and probably my last trip there. And the reason was to see Colin Kaepernick. As a Nevada graduate from the 1970s, I followed Kapernick's career in Reno closely, and saw him play live about a dozen times over the years, everywhere from Reno to South Bend. To see him in a 49ers uniform on the home turf that sported some of the greatest players in NFL history was an achievement I never thought I'd see from a University of Nevada quarterback.
5) July 26, 1988 - Giants-Dodgers Doubleheader: You can find blog posts on the Internet and whole chapters in books about this rare doubleheader between the two rivals and how crazy it was. The Giants had won the NL West the year before and the hard-charging Dodgers were on their way to a World Series title. Fans of both teams were drunk, belligerent, and geared for a brawl. The night had an eerie feel to it as the fog rolled in and out several times. The Dodgers, to the Giants fans' dismay, won both games, coming behind late in each game, and the second game lasted well over four hours as the Dodgers won it in the 11th. I stayed for all of it, and was able to witness up close the single funniest line I've ever heard at a sporting event. Late in the second game, we had moved to right behind the Dodgers dugout, and there was a very drunk Giants fan screaming at every Dodgers player he saw. Catcher Mike Scioscia was in the on-deck circle and the fan bellowed at the portly catcher, "Hey Scioscia, nice ass! What did you do, swallow a Volkswagen?" Even Scioscia chuckled at that one. -- Steve Martarano, Sacramento
A Candlestick Life: By Bob Stanley, Sacramento
First time for me? probably '61.
The place was new McCovey was there, Mays, too.
Saw the Beatles with my sister Pat - Grandpa Joe wanted to taste the scene - they looked so small out there by second base and we couldn't hear much through the screams, Paperback Writer, Day Tripper, I Feel Fine.
One night after what seemed a life of waiting, from under the overhang on the third base side, Devin and I watched number 24 hit number 512. The roar went on so long Mel Ott must have heard it from somewhere.
Dad took me to see the Niners play Dallas for the championship. It looked real good until the fourth, when Staubach came in and drove us all home disappointed.
The good times were still years away.
One rain-delayed game Pete and Ed and I smoked cigars to keep warm under a wet blanket while the rain came and went, Juan Marichal almost threw a no-hitter.
One to remember?
Brother Doug and myself - way up in the upper deck when Will Clark singled up the middle to beat Cubs in '89 everybody screaming, me - just tears streaming
So cold in the wind one Fourth of July out in those insanely far away center field seats but the kids wanted to stay for the fireworks. Guess what -- game went extra innings we wrapped ourselves in newspaper - (Chronicle not the Bee) to keep from freezing in approaching night (Giants lost, too.)
I went to the game with a young John Shea and his brothers Mike and Terry, Zack, Fish, the whole gang, for the opener of a big series against the Dodgers and all three Shea brothers snuck into the game in different ways - talking their way past ticket-takers (I was petrified), climbing up concrete ramps. (John eventually found more legitimate paths to get into ball-games)
Whether we paid our way or snuck in, it was our temple, the world our friends and family knew.
McCovey played there, Montana, Mays, too.