October 17, 1989, just after 5 PM A six-year-old child stands on his seat in the upper deck of Candlestick Park watching the pregame warm-ups for Game 3 of the World Series.
What a World Series it was. Dubbed the Battle of the Bay, it pitted the San Francisco Giants against their cross-bay American League counterparts, the Oakland A’s. As that bright eyed six-year-old stood watching the magic and pageantry that is October baseball, the earth started to move.
The Loma Prieta Earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area at 5:04 p.m. It measured 6.9 on the open ended Richter scale, and wreaked havoc all over the Bay Area. 63 people lost their lives, and nearly 12,000 lost their homes.
Later known as the World Series quake, Loma Prieta devastated the infrastructure of the San Francisco area, bringing down a section of the Bay Bridge and the Viaduct.
It is the first earthquake whose opening seconds were broadcast all over the world on live television. During the pre-game broadcast, while narrating game two highlights, Tim McCarver became suddenly distracted and repeated the same line twice, at which point Al Michaels proclaimed “I’ll tell you what, we’re having an earth-“ before the feed from Candlestick was lost.
That six-year-old little boy pitched forward from his perch on his seat, and smashed his face on the railing in front of him breaking his nose. Crying out in fear and pain, he laid on the concrete as the earthquake raged — nearly 15 full seconds — curled in a ball.
While that wasn’t the last time I had my nose broken, it was the first and for obvious reasons, the most dramatic. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been standing on my seat, but then again how could I know that the San Andreas Fault had different ideas for the World Series than the rest of us.
Now, 24 years later, the effect of the Loma Prieta earthquake can still be seen all over the Bay Area, most notably in the change in construction standards but also in the removal of the classic brick facades all over San Francisco.
The earthquake is a memory I will carry with me forever, especially since I experienced it in such a unique way. I will never forget watching the world undulate around me, and while the physical pain is lost to time, the emotional toll is one that will always be with me.