Part II - Opening Day and Other Baseball Memories

April 4, 2015 | This site originates from Northern California, and although we don't take sides in this rivalry (other than to...

April 4, 2015 |

This site originates from Northern California, and although we don't take sides in this rivalry (other than to say we are Northern Californian Tiger Fans!), what Opening Day and other memories would be complete without a word from Dodger and Giants fans? 

As Rod Serling might say, submitted for your approval!

Dad, Dodger Stadium and Dodger Dogs!

By Connie Conley 

Can you hear it?  We have waited all winter for this day.  The pitcher and catcher warming up as the ball hits the glove with that sound – that perfect sound.  The smell of green grass so expertly mowed.  The infield raked to perfection before the infielders take the field and make that first foot impression with their cleats.  The stands filling up with excited fans where everyone seated around you becomes your friend. 

If you love baseball, there is nothing like the sounds of the excitement everywhere as you anticipate the first pitch or the first crack of the bat.  Then the “boys of summer” take to the field in their bright white uniforms.  After that, the entire game is pure euphoria of emotions.

I loved my Dad and he loved baseball.  From the time I was a little girl growing up in Santa Barbara, we went to Los Angeles Dodgers games at least twice a month.  They were some of my best childhood memories.  He patiently answered every stupid question.  We talked nothing but baseball for nine innings in between Dodger dogs and peanuts.  I came to love baseball learning it through my Dad’s eyes with his unsurpassed passion for the game.

In moving to Elk Grove, we continued watching the games all season long as only Vin Scully could call them, often recalling our days sitting in the Chavez Ravine and World Series victories and loses.  Dodger fan or not, that Kirk Gibson homerun in the 1988 World Series is still one of the best moments in baseball.

When my Dad became ill in his early sixties, he would often say, I would love to see the Dodgers play in person one more time.  And I was hell bent on granting him that wish.  One of my Docs had box seats at Candlestick Park and he gave me tickets to a Giants/Dodgers game. 

Though in enemy camp, the Giants’ fans around us embraced my Dad because they could see what a fan he was and his ailing health wouldn’t stop him this one last time to watch his beloved Dodgers play in person.  It was the best of days – and the Dodgers even won 1-0 – with Hideo Nomo pitching a shutout and one hit from a no hitter. 

I lost my Dad right before Father’s Day almost five years ago.  And in the hospital during his final days what did we do?  Of course, we talked, leaving nothing unsaid and we watched baseball.

My love of baseball continues to this day in loving remembrance of my Dad, all of the memories of games past, and that anticipation of opening day with the prayer, “Maybe this year!”

Copyright © 2015 by Connie Conley.


The following story was originally posted on this site on December 26, 2014 after the closure of Candlestick Park. It has been recently updated for this feature.

Memories of the Stick

By Steve Lee

Last Monday the albatross known to many locals as Candlestick Park likely hosted its last event. It seems a shame to tear it down even though it is an eyesore that is unfit for just about anything but trap shooting. The facility has truly seen and been part of history.  This fact largely escaped me until my daughter, a die-hard sports fan since she was a toddler, informed me that she has never been to Candlestick Park. I took a few minutes to think back over the years and I realized she was right. Realization: I’m not a very good parent.

Understand, I’ve taken my daughter to Giants spring training, too many trips to AT&T Park to count, she was even at Game Two of the 2010 World Series against the Texas Rangers thanks to a great mom who understood the importance of the event, but she’s never weathered a wind-swept game at the Stick.

Much like the “Croix De Candlestick,” the badges the ushers would pass out to patrons who were crazy enough to fight the cold, wind, fog and gulls on the extra-innings games, the badge of courage was truly earned and not easily attained. I proudly saved the ones I earned over the years. 

Growing up in central California, the nearest MLB team was the hated Dodgers. I knew that stadium well and I considered it a cathedral, with those baby blue walls, grass so massive, green and perfect, and Vin Scully, the only Dodger worth mentioning. But as a kid, I dreamed of Candlestick; the place where Willie Mays roamed centerfield with the grace and speed of a gazelle, the seeming effortless play afield with that patented “basket catch” that I practiced for hours in my yard, yet never to came close to mastering; the place where “Stretch” McCovey swung his wide shoulders and that lumbering bat at timid pitchers; Juan Marichal with that high unmistakable leg kick. God, I loved those guys growing up. The team with all that talent, yet one that could never quite win the pennant…year after year, after year. After the devastating collapse of 2002, I resigned myself to the fact that I would likely die before the Giants won a World Series. Yee of little faith, I know. 

I recall as a 12 year old, my parents planning the family vacation to San Francisco. I knew then, it was planned for me. My parents didn’t care about San Francisco. This was heaven, a chance to see the Giants, Willie Mays and Candlestick Park! Mays played unspectacularly. I pleaded afterward with my dad to wait for Mays at the stop sign at the exit of the Stick so that I could get an autograph. Three hours later, here comes Mays and I was adamant and determined, he would have to run over me to get by me without signing. The top of my shoes had tire tracks of black rubber from his tires. Dad wasn’t happy. I was devastated.

It took years, but later I returned to the Stick. It wasn’t easy to watch when the best player was Mike Ivey. There were some thin years, the Johnnie Lemaster and Darrell Evans years stick out, but they were still “My Giants.”

Then came Will Clark and Robbie Thompson. What a great time to enjoy the Stick. Humm Baby! Pride was back and the sweetest swing I’d ever seen belonged to my mancrush, “Will the Thrill.” No one was ever as clutch as Will.  He owned the Stick and Nolan Ryan. I recall a sweep of the 1st place Astros and ragging on their ace Mike Scott so much that he gave me the finger. Mission accomplished.

During that period I even got engaged at the Stick. I hired a bi-plane to fly a trailer asking my girl to marry me. Back then, we attended just about every Saturday home game. She said “yes” and we’re still strong over 25 years later.

I fondly recall the 1998 season. We bought a box with friends near the left field foul pole for a game against the Cards. This was the year that McGwire* broke Roger Maris’s single year HR record. During batting practice McGwire hit a screaming rocket right at our box. It might have killed someone had the plexiglass slider been open. People in the box screamed and scattered like a grenade had just been tossed in the box. Of course the family saw numerous Barry Bonds bombs in the 90’s and early 2000’s, but my daughter and I had issues supporting a “cheater.” 

Let’s not forget football. I was there to see Montana lead the Niners to numerous victories, OJ’s last 100-yard game against the Bears in 1978, and I was there when Steve Young made that incredible rumbling,’ bumbling,’ stumbling,’ TD run against the Vikings a few years later that is still seen occasionally on ESPN. …and let’s not forget, the Stick is the place where the Beatles played their last public concert. That alone should make the place a historic landmark.

Long live the ‘Stick. – Sorry baby, dad should have taken you to see a game at this historic venue. 

Post a Comment Default Comments


Anonymous said...

What wonderful stories....

Connie said...

Contributors are 3-0 on opening day! Here's to a great summer of baseball.

See you in the Fall Classic!

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