Sunday, October 25, 2009

1989 Earthquake Aftermath

In a previous post, I wrote about my experience the day the earthquake occurred. The days, weeks and months that followed were ones of confusion and waiting. Even controversy. It turned out that there were far fewer deaths in the freeway collapse than previously feared, as most people left work early to watch the World Series! My good friend Mike was one such non-casualty. At the time of the quake, he would have been on that freeway on his way home, but he was already at the game.

The Bay Bridge was out of commission for months as a replacement section had to be constructed. This was a major bridge with six figure vehicle traffic each day. A new freeway in Oakland took years to be built. The World Series was delayed (ten days eventually) as there was structural damage to Candlestick Park. Expansion joints were located below seating section stairways. The concrete steps crumbled, and fans could see the parking lot through the new holes. There was talk of relocating the Series to Los Angeles. Over the dead bodies of 62,000 Giants fans would their first Series in 27 years be played at Dodger Stadium! Some people felt that a sporting event was so insignificant in light of such a disaster that it should be cancelled altogether. Cooler heads prevailed as the structural damage was fixed, and game 3 was played at the 'Stick after all. It turned out to be what the Bay Area needed as therapy.

The quake stirred fans, as they showed up for the postponed game 3 wearing hard hats with their team logo. The A's swept the Giants, and decided that in light of the catastrophe, they would celebrate their victory in the locker room without alcoholic beverages.

Another friend of mine was driving on the Bridge at the time of the quake and collapse. He had just passed the section that would collapse. Then when he reached the joint between the bridge and terra firma, the buckled pavement scraped the underside of his car. Not knowing what happened, he pulled off and checked his car out. He looked back up the bridge, and there was no traffic whatsoever in an eerie sight.

Having two teams close by has always been a blessing for me. Getting to drive to every game is something few fans have ever claimed. The '89 quake and Series are things I will never forget.

This is cross posted at my baseball blog, From the Bleachers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Attempt at thoughts after a busy week:

  • This last move was my fifteenth. All as an adult.
  • I've lived my entire life within 20 miles of my birth place, and 95% of my life within 10 miles.
  • Read the Internet Monk's annual Halloween rant here.
  • We have been enjoying beautiful Indian summer/early fall weather.
  • Walked into our nearly empty old house the other morning. There was a black widow spider on the living room wall. Wonder what that means?
  • Leaves have been changing color. I love autumn.
  • Family Scott is now faced with the daunting task of finding a new local Chinese restaurant for take out.
  • This video of a song could have been shot in our fourth grade class room. Why our teacher let us listen to this is beyond me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Tuesday, October 17, 1989, 5:04pm, minutes before the start of game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's. It registered 7.1 on the Richter scale. Just prior to this I was in the upper deck at Candlestick Park visiting some friends who also had tickets. I was on my way down the ramp to the lower deck, and was near the bottom of the ramp with a friend, who said, "Is that an earthquake?" I stopped, felt some shaking and looked down. My head was still but I could see the ground move several feet in each direction under me. Yes it was an earthquake, and a huge one. It shook for 45 terrifying seconds.

There were 62,000 fans there, and when the shaking stopped, there was dead silence. Everybody looked up and around. A few seconds later, a monstrous cheer erupted. Welcome to San Francisco! "We had an earthquake on national TV! Awesome! Welcome to California!" could be heard by many of the fans. No visible damage. We proceeded to the concession line to buy some goodies. Just then, the power went out. The cash registers were electric, so no change could be made because the drawers were stuck shut. The concessionaires took the next bill up. We made it back to our seats (seven rows behind home plate were where my season tickets were.) People were dazed and confused. The scoreboard and PA system were not working due to the power outage.

Players and police were out on the field. A chant of "Play Ball!" erupted from the crowd. Who needs a scoreboard? Scoreboard, schmoreboard. A fan just behind us had a Sony Watchman (remember those?) He said that the Bay Bridge had collapsed. This was simply unbelievable news. A few minutes later (how can you sense time when something like this happens?), a police car with a hand held mega phone blurred something out that sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher. We were all told to go home. Go home? This is the World Series!

Once out into the parking lot, we saw a TV news van with an open door. There were many television monitors, and since it was operating on battery power, we could see the damage being broadcast by the blimp. What we saw were truly horrific pictures. A section of the Bay Bridge collapsed. A freeway had pancaked on top of itself and miles of it were laying on the ground. A massive fire broke out in the Marina district. This was a major catastrophe.

The SFPD told fans to stay close to the stadium, as bridges were out. All the other bridges in the Bay Area were closed for inspection. We had to wait. We figured that we would be there a while, so we proceeded to a mini-mart at a neighboring RV park to buy some beer. We bought a case. The door was blocked by a table, as they didn't let people in. They took orders and made sales at the door. When we turned around to leave, there was a line behind us hundreds of people deep. Suddenly we got questions about where we got the beer. Not wanting to wait in line, people started bidding on our beer! We sold to the highest bidder and walked away with eighty bucks.

After quite a while of waiting, it was getting dark. Police were being called away because there was heavy looting downtown. It was at this point we got scared. We decided to make a run for it, and anticipated heavy traffic as we headed 50 miles down to San Jose to wrap around the bottom of the bay and up the other side another 70 miles home. It was the only way home without crossing a bridge. By the time we got to the San Mateo bridge, it was open. We hit a Denny's on the way home, and it was filled with fans who were talking about the event. I eventually got home at 1:30am.

I will never forget that day or the experience of that earthquake. Hundreds of people were feared dead from the freeway collapse. Some tourists from Connecticut managed to shoot some video from the collapsed section of the bridge, with the eerie sight of a car crashing to the deck below. The replacement section had a different paving surface, a constant reminder of that day. I will write more about this event, its aftermath and what happened in the postponement of the Series. [Update: a followup post can be found here]

Cross posted at my baseball blog, From the Bleachers.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Thoughts throughout the week:

  • Early in the week, the temperature dropped into the 30's. Then the first rain of the season was one of the largest storms in 40 years, creating widespread flooding. But since it doesn't rain here between May and October, the parched earth drank much of it up. Today it was 85 with high humidity.
  • Still moving things into storage. Almost done. The first trip to storage is tossing things in. They fit. Today was like doing a jigsaw puzzle trying to fit things into tight spaces. Chucking a sitting chair up on top of a pile is great fun! We laughed, anyway.
  • Good ole fashioned metal Tonka trucks are a hot housing market for black widow spiders.
  • My dad and I saw a number of people talking on their cell phones while driving today - which is against the California vehicle code. But our governor's wife set the example. If it's good enough for her...
  • Lots of stories on the news recalling the San Francisco earthquake twenty years ago.
  • The song of the week? I saw these guys at Gilligan's Beach House in Modesto back in about 1994. 80's glam metal at its best, an upbeat song from the very first metal album to hit number one. Hilarious. Please don't mind the Spanish sub-titles, it was the best video of this song I could find.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

1989 World Series and San Francisco Earthquake

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake that occurred just minutes prior to game 3 of baseball's World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. It was an event that one never forgets. I was at the game when the earthquake happened. October 17, 1989 at 5:04pm.

The Bay Area was already excited about the World Series between its two own teams, but the earthquake topped everything. A section of the Bay Bridge collapsed, a neighborhood in San Francisco's Marina district caught fire, a double-decker section of I-880 freeway in Oakland collapsed on itself. The Series was delayed for ten days as the emergency tied up life for a while. Dozens of people died, and widespread damage was reported.

I'll be writing a few posts about this event over the next few days, and will link to my baseball blog From the Bleachers for a baseball aspect. I'll write about the earthquake, what it was like on that day, and about the World Series. To start, I've written a post on how an accidental discovery I made about the ticket agency's phone system allowed a five-employee architecture firm to buy 2% of all World Series tickets that year, for us and our friends. Stay tuned for more...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

I missed last week due to our move. We're still in move mode, so I'll squeeze this in between waking up on the couch and heading for bed. Two weeks condensed thoughts on a Friday night. I count time after midnight but before I go to bed as still the same day as when the sun went down. It's still Friday.

  • Packing and moving bring back many memories. Many good, some not so good.
  • Just received "Waiting On God" by Andrew Murray in the mail, as suggested by a friend. It's a 31 day devotional. Maybe I'll write occasionally about it. It was written in 1896.
  • We lived there five years, and just today I hit the taco truck in the Ace Truck Supply parking lot that Mrs. Scott and I said again and again we should try.
  • We're now within walking distance from grandma and grandpa's house.
  • Not having an office to go to every day this summer, I got really used to my sandals. Now that I'm wearing my boots to do the move, it's weird and I miss my sandals.
  • Mrs. Scott's broken elbow is healing well, but still not up to "move" standards.
  • *blank*
  • Continuing with a FNP feature: Another great song from my youth. Not as popular as that other tune [that I previously posted] from the same group, but very intense. I remember hearing it on my next door neighbor's older sister's phonograph as a 45.