The final event for Candlestick Park, which opened in 1960 as the home of the San Francisco Giants, is scheduled for this week when Paul McCartney fittingly closes the places out with a concert.
Why is it fitting McCartney close the place? The last Beatles concert took place on Aug. 29,1966 at Candlestick Park.
Most fans today associate Candlestick Park with football, but the place opened in 1960 as a purely baseball-only facility and a open-ended bowl with views of the bay. Designed by prominent local architect John Bolles as the first reinforced-concrete sports stadium and a modern scoreboard, Candlestick Park was the ballpark of the future, complete with hot-water radiant heating. But in perhaps of a hint of what was to come, the radiant heating never worked; as it ended up, the piping was built too far into the precast concrete and didn’t generate enough heat to reach the seats. Famous attorney Melvin Belli successfully sued for damages after famously wearing a parka to court to show how cold it was in the stands. The team embraced the cold on the marketing front, awarding Croix de Candlestick pins to fans who made it to the end of an extra-innings game.
That cold, along with the winds whipping off the bay, is what many fans remember about the ‘Stick. It also led to some legends, such as the oft-repeated tale of Stu Miller being blown off the mound by a gust of wind during the 1961 All-Star Game. “I wasn’t blown off that mound,” Miller told Sports Illustrated later. “I just waved a little. But I’ll always be the guy who was blown away, no matter what I say. There were 44,000 people in the park that day, but over the years I bet I’ve had at least 100,000 people tell me they saw me flying in the air. You’d think I’d been blown out into the Bay.”
But some baseball greats spent the prime of their careers there — Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays — and fans did love their Giants. When it was expanded in the 1971-72 offseason to accommodate the San Francisco 49ers, the place lost a little charm and a little wind chill.
Should you care for a longer look at Candlestick Park’s history, Jesse Goldberg-Strassler has a nice look at the ballpark’s evolution over the years.
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