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Goodbye to Candlestick

August 16, 2014 - John Mehno
Candlestick Park in San Francisco officially closed the other night with a performance by Paul McCartney. Candlestick was the site of the last Beatles concert in the U.S. in 1966, so there was some symmetry in having McCartney close the stadium.

It opened in 1960, and the San Francisco Giants used it through 2000 when they moved into their new park.

The Pirates used to play two series a year in San Francisco, and you could always count on Bob Prince delivering a three-hour monologue on the horrid conditions for baseball. It became chilly at night, to the point that people were wrapped in blankets for night games in July and August. The swirling winds made most fly balls an adventure. What appeared to be a pop-up to short left field might wind up being caught by the catcher. Later, the Giants would try to claim the conditions as a home-field advantage, but the truth was nobody enjoyed playing baseball at Candlestick. Prince regularly complained about it, one of his favorite road subjects (the other was the consistently lousy quality of official scoring in St. Louis).

There's one Candlestick story connected to the Pirates that's long been a favorite. It's probably too questionable for the newspaper, but this is why blogs were invented.

Candlestick was the only National League park where the visitors dugout was not connected to the visitors clubhouse. The dugout was free standing. The clubhouse was out beyond the outfield wall. After the game, the visiting team would walk the length of the field to get to the clubhouse. There was also no rest room facility in the visitors dugout. Anyone who had to go had to hold it.

There was one game when a certain Pirates manager had to go. Really had to go. Couldn't wait. So a trainer was enlisted to find a cardboard box. A phalanx of players surrounded the box to keep anyone in the stands from seeing what was happening. The manager took care of his business with 20,000 people in stands. The trainer was charged with disposing of the box.

Three things: 1. Nobody misses Candlestick Park. 2. Sometimes you really, really have to go. 3. Trainers earn their money.

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