Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Grantland has a fantastic and extensive oral history of 1989's earthquake-interrupted World Series, which includes memories from players, fans, politicians, and reporters. But the single most terrifying anecdote comes from a poor stadium worker who had just climbed a ladder up to Candlestick Park's light towers when the quake hit:

Benjy Young, stagehand, Local 16: Me and one other guy, we were taking turns going up right before the World Series trying to untangle these [windsocks]. I was untangling the last one, and batting practice is going on. You wouldn't believe how cool it was to be up in the towers while the batting practice was happening. It was really hard to continue my work and not just sit there and watch. So I'm leaning out, untangling the last one. I had forgotten to put my safety belt on. I wasn't locked in. Then the earthquake hit, and I'm looking straight down. You're like watching this thing move, looking down from a pole bending like spaghetti, and thinking, Oh my god. I'm saying my good-byes. Then I vomit, and that was really strange because I felt like I was vomiting on everybody in the stadium. I'm waiting all these years for someone to tell me that "I had my favorite Hawaiian shirt on, and I know that was you." I go down the ladder as fast as I can.


After the earthquake, at a time it was unclear when, where, or if the World Series would continue, the A's decamped to Phoenix to stay sharp. That's the site of one of the best lighthearted anecdotes in this piece, and naturally it starred Jose Canseco (who did not participate in the oral history):

Dave Henderson: We all hated Eckersley because he was basically a dick on the mound. I'd faced the guy for 10 years and he was a dick before. The only reason we let him live was because he was on our team.

Sandy Alderson: During that game, I think Eckersley drilled Canseco. He took a free shot at him.

Dennis Eckersley: Jose comes up to bat and he's pointing to center like Babe Ruth. The first pitch, I drilled Canseco in the back. I dunno, I guess I just got jacked up and threw as hard as I could. Jose's coming to the mound and he's pissed. Finally, everything cools down. It was a strange moment.

Dave Henderson: After it was all over, Canseco comes to me and says, "Hey, Hendu, you think Eckersley hit me on purpose?" I'm like, "You idiot. He's only walked three guys the whole year!"


Go read the story. It's the rare oral history that deserves the format.


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