Results tagged ‘ Jack Clark ’
Great moment No. 1 in the late Bob Welch’s career was, of course, his strikeout of Reggie Jackson that sealed the Los Angeles Dodgers’ triumph over the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the 1978 World Series.
Great moment No. 2 for Welch very well could have occurred during that same year. It was a performance against the Giants that helped re-establish the Dodgers’ footing in the National League West.
Saturday, Aug. 5 dawned with the Giants leading the West by two games over second-place Cincinnati. Los Angeles, the reigning division champions, occupied third place, 4 1/2 games behind the Giants. The Dodgers appeared to be reeling, having slipped closer to fourth place (San Diego trailed them by four games) than first.
Then Bob Welch took the mound at Candlestick Park.
The Giants clearly were overdosing on momentum. They captured one-run decisions in the first two games of a four-game series against the Dodgers. The pitching matchup for game three of the series seemed to favor the Giants. Ed Halicki, a 16-game winner the year before who had a respectable 3.03 ERA this season, opposed Welch, a rookie making his 13th Major League appearance but just his fourth start. Surely, San Francisco would teach Welch what the Giants-Dodgers rivalry was about.
It didn’t happen that way. Welch pitched his first Major League complete game, allowing nine hits in Los Angeles’ 2-0 victory. In a dress rehearsal for his confrontation with Jackson, Welch struck out Jack Clark, the Giants’ premier slugger, with two runners on base and one out in the ninth inning. The Giants remained in the division race through early September. But the Dodgers did more than just hang around. Welch’s victory began a 20-6 surge that helped propel Los Angeles into first place.
As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Anybody who saw Welch pitch that afternoon sensed that he would make an impact. He certainly did, as his career attested. If more pitchers like him come along, baseball fans should be so lucky.
– Chris Haft
Sunday, Dec. 22
SAN FRANCISCO — For a lot of people, the fact that a National Football League game will be played Monday night at Candlestick Park is merely incidental.
The featured performer, as many fans believe, is Candlestick itself, that object of derision which has prompted tidal waves of nostalgia with the approach the 49ers-Falcons game — most likely the last major sporting event held at the 53-year-old park.
The tender feelings fans have expressed toward Candlestick on websites, in newspaper forums and on radio talk shows shouldn’t be misinterpreted as wishes for a revival. Everyone knows the 49ers need a new stadium, which awaits them in Santa Clara, and everybody has long embraced AT&T Park as the Giants’ home since they left Candlestick following the 1999 season.
Why have Candlestick’s final days stirred such emotion? Simple: For Bay Area sports fans, the stadium has become something of a patriarch: Aged, gray, incapable of performing tasks its younger counterparts can, yet somehow imposing due to its history and undeniable strength (example: its resolute response to the Loma Prieta earthquake before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series). His time has come and gone, but the old man shall forever remain a member of the family.
Giants fans are especially prone to these feelings. Because the Giants endured so many abysmal seasons at
Candlestick, and because it was such a trying place for baseball spectators (that’s putting it mildly), those who visited the park regularly — whether to watch Gaylord Perry or Allen Ripley, J.T. Snow or J.R. Phillips — mostly were genuine fans who truly loved the sport, the Giants or both.
To these zealots, Candlestick became oddly special. No wonder that this second and final goodbye to Candlestick has been especially intense for many Giants fans. Essentially, nothing in their lives has changed or will change when Candlestick is demolished. But the patriarch — visible from a safe, happy distance on drives along Highway 101 — will disappear, making that inevitable transition from reality to memory.
Revel in those memories, Giants fans. Celebrate what you saw, what you experienced, what Russ or Lon or Hank or Ron or Jon or Kruk & Kuip told you.
Maybe you’ll attend Monday’s game and revisit a particular spot at the stadium that remains significant. Maybe, like me, you’ll stare at the top row of the upper reserved seats in Section 5, remember sitting there for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series and continue to wonder how Dad got tickets.
And you’ll devour a Polish sausage for old times’ sake.
And though it’s a football crowd, you’ll long to hear that passionate, unbridled roar of the fans, real fans, rise from the stands over and over.
Again, I sense that football will be only incidental for a small but meaningful percentage of people watching Monday’s game, whether they do so at Candlestick or on television.
These will be the folks who’ll behold Candlestick one last time and recall rushing to the players’ parking lot to gaze at Willie Mays’ pink Cadillac, or who got golf-ball-sized goosebumps just watching Mays saunter into the on-deck circle, his uniform as elegant as a tuxedo.
Monday’s game is for them.
It’s also for anybody who thinks the city’s finest spans are the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge and Willie McCovey stretching at first base for a throw.
It’s for anyone who refused to leave his or her seat whenever Clark — that’s Jack or Will — was due to bat.
It’s for anybody spellbound by the talents of the Bondses, pere et fil.
It’s for anybody who marveled at Juan Marichal kicking his left leg toward those impossibly high light towers in the middle of his marvelous motion.
It’s for anybody who played Little League, high school baseball or anything in between against one of Jim Davenport’s sons.
It’s for anybody who still can summon Jeff Carter’s voice in one’s internal public-address system.
It’s for anybody who paid 90 cents — NINETY CENTS — to sit in the bleachers.
It’s for people who emptied mothballs from their warmest clothes to attend a game in July or August.
It’s for fans who supported John Montefusco with the same ardor they now reserve for Tim Lincecum.
It’s for folks who loved to debate who was the better closer (Rod Beck or Robb Nen) or double-play combination (Chris Speier/Tito Fuentes or Jose Uribe/Robby Thompson).
It’s for people who, however briefly, ignored Candlestick’s flaws and appreciated the game in front of them.
It’s for everybody who’s focused on what’s important — the present — yet will always treasure the gifts of the past.
– Chris Haft