Friday, October 17, 2014

25 Years Ago Tonight The World Stopped!

Actually, it was not the whole world but rather the World Series! At 5:04 PM Pacific Time the Loma Prieta earthquake hit about ten miles from Santa Cruz. That is where the name of the earthquake came from.

Reports differ in size from 6.9 to 7.2 on the Richter scale. It was felt on the San Francisco Peninsula and North up into Marin County. There is all kinds of information on it on the Internet. Videos, articles and opinions are abundant. I could spend an entire post discussing the effects of the earthquake, but that is not the point of this post.

If you were alive during the earthquake and live in California, you constantly live in a state of knowing anyone of the fault lines could fracture at any time.

Personally, I was watching the game with several friends who came over to watch Game Three of what was called, "The Battle of the Bay World Series." We were a bunch of frustrated, former baseball players living out our fantasies with a monthly meeting where we did our fantasy managerial and ownership trades, drops and adds of new players. It was great fun!

Just as everyone was settling in to watch Game Three and Al Michaels was beginning to talk about the game, everything went to black. We were all upset and cursed ABC because they were messing up our evening and taking away our baseball game. Notice, I said, "our baseball game." After all, nobody knew at the time what was going on, we knew the world revolved around us!

As we sat for a while, not quite knowing what to do as our evening unfolded, reports started flowing in about what had happened. Before we knew anything someone made a joke about there was an earthquake. It was a joke! Little did we know exactly what was happening!

When they started showing footage of the Bay Bridge section collapsing, the Nimitz Freeway collapsing on itself and San Francisco on fire we knew there really was an earthquake! All of a sudden, our joke was not so funny!

Nobody had smart phones and instant access to videos and cell phone technology was not there yet, so almost 62,000 people in Candlestick Park were left wondering what to do. As more and more information came out about the earthquake, Commissioner Fay Vincent had to decide what he was going to do about playing game three or evacuate the stadium.

I just watched an ESPN 30 for 30 episode showing players, fans, broadcasters, cameramen and interviews with people throughout the bay trying to figure out what they were going to do. If you have the interest, I am sure you can find that episode somewhere on your cable or Internet connection. It is quite fascinating to see just how far technology has come in twenty-five short years!

Just think how social media today would have changed the coverage of the way this earthquake was covered!

One of the most striking images for me was watching Candlestick Park's upper deck swaying up-and-down the circle as the quake hit. It is a good thing buildings, bridges and freeways are built earthquake resistant in that part of the country or we would have seen many more than sixty-three people perish, especially in an area where people were concentrated like Candlestick Park! Imagine what could have happened if the epicenter would have been closer to the ballpark?

The GOODYEAR blimp provided images like this were shown on television, people began to understand the gravity of the situation:

Click on the image to make it larger:

It was a night to remember. It was an experience when the entire country realized baseball is just a game. Earthquakes change your perspective about real-life in a hurry! I believe we all realized what is important at least for the week or so after the earthquake.

The World Series was put on hold for a week while the two stadiums were structurally repaired to make usable so the umpire could yell, "Play ball," again, and life was back to normal for some of us.

Please feel free to share your memories of this post.

I look forward to your comments.



1 comment:

Ed said...

Hey Mike, funny thing I'm in SF this pass week visiting sister & brother-in-law and talked about their experiences during the quake. Some nasty stuff, we had to wait to hear from them because all phones were down or had been busy after it hit. They both had to walk home from their jobs not sure if the other one was okay, until arriving home. They got lucky.
During our visits we've been in two earthquakes, one while we were sleeping that shook the entire house, but the one that got us a couple of yrs ago was when we were out on a pier and the swaying of us thinking gloom and doom as we ran for cover. We almost missed our plane because muni shut down and we couldn't get a cab.