T.R.’s Memoirs: Sweet memories of Oakland ahead of potential bittersweet move
(AP photo/Jeff Chiu)
Editor’s note: T.R. Sullivan covered the Texas Rangers over 32 years for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and MLB.com and is sharing his “memoirs” with this newsletter.
The Rangers open a four-game series in Oakland tonight. The Athletics are looking at the possibility of moving to Las Vegas by 2027. This is the first of a three-part series with Sullivan bringing back some memorable moments of a ballpark that not many liked but remains near and dear to his heart.
Candlestick Park and the Oakland Coliseum are two of the worst ballparks to ever host a major-league team.
To call either one a “dump” was probably being too kind. So was “Polar Grounds” and the “Masoleum.”
Candlestick Park, mistakenly built on an otherwise useless piece of land sticking out into San Francisco Bay, was just too cold and windy. Even in July, at the height of summer, while the rest of the country baked in heat, Candlestick Park could be downright frigid as the sun set behind the Coastal Range and the fierce wind came whipping in from the ocean.
They didn’t know about the nights at Candlestick Park when the city was bamboozled into building on that site. Go out to Candlestick Park during the day and the weather is ideal. They didn’t find out about the horrible weather at night until it was too late.
The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum was one of the first “multi-use” stadiums that were built in the 1960s along with the Astrodome, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh and many others until Camden Yards in Baltimore in 1992 changed civic perception of baseball ballparks forever.
The Coliseum was built for baseball, football, soccer, concerts, moto-cross, truck rallies, tractor pulls and anything else that could fit in the place. Truth be told, it was best suited for the 1960-70s roller-derby craze. The Bay City Bombers put 51,000 into the place to see Charlie O’Connell. Yeah, the guy they called “Mister Roller Derby” could fill up the Oakland Coliseum.
Candlestick Park — site of The Catch, the Beatles’ last concert and the 1989 World Series Earthquake — was abandoned in 1999 when the Giants moved into Pac-Bell Park. The Coliseum remains but has continued to slip into disrepair.
I also loved games at the Coliseum when I was in school. I could buy tickets from scalpers on the BART bridge for $20 and sit 8 rows behind home plate. I could watch the break of the off speed pitches and the mechanics of the swing like i was at a minor league game. Or, I could join the crew in the RF bleachers, soak in the sun, and have a few beers. Both modes of baseball bliss. It was ugly, but real, and accessible. I loved the Coliseum.