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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grantland:Rocked—An oral history of the 1989 World Series

Jim Berkland, geologist: I said the World Series quake was coming. I said it would be a 6.5 to 7. I had 6.5 to 7 because that’s what happened in 1865, and the conditions were very similar. I had all of these conjecture-y things: the tides, the whales, the homing pigeons, the hot springs, the geyser. I had all of that. The Mercury News no longer wanted to carry my predictions because they told me they were bad for business. So the Gilroy Dispatch printed it on Friday, the 13th of October.

My own story was that I had just gotten home from cross country practice in time for the pregame. I was a huge A’s and Giants fan, one of those annoying people that actually wanted a hat that was half and half for each team (sorry) so this Series was monumental for me. My mother had recently divorced so my family was in flux and we lived in a cheaply built apartment complex adjacent to my high school in Salinas, CA, about 35 miles from the quake’s epicenter. I was alone when the quake hit and my first reaction was one of fury that the power had gone out just as the game was about to get going. I’d lived in earthquake country my entire life so a tremor wasn’t something that got me worked up, in fact, I rather enjoyed the excitement of an earthquake. This one, however, was stronger than any I’d experienced before and, more frightening, it just didn’t stop. The apartment was shaking wildly and I had a legitimate fear that the floor above was about to come crashing down so for the first time in my life I actually took safety measures and got myself under a door jamb. After that, the Series just lost a lot of importance for me and I didn’t even watch the last couple of games. I still feel like I haven’t seen the A’s actually win the Series in my lifetime.

Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: October 23, 2013 at 11:44 AM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: geology, giants, world series

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   1. Eric Ferguson Posted: October 23, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4580964)
Well worth a read. These oral histories are really one of Grantland's strengths.
   2. Morty Causa Posted: October 23, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4580984)
Concur. Nice to have everyone's impressions.
   3. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: October 23, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4581003)
Busfield: As I left, a guy came up to me with a chunk of cement and had me sign it. It was the size of, like, a football helmet.
So that Timothy Busfield autographed chunk of earthquake cement was authentic after all.
   4. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: October 23, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4581011)
Ah, the heady days when Timothy Busfield was a star and not just one of the peripheral nerds.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 23, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4581036)
That's interesting that geologist predicted it. I remember not long after, someone else predicted the New Madrid fault was about to explode, so in Missouri, we all had to do earthquake drills for weeks. The date came when the earthquake was supposed to happen and....nothing.

I do remember watching the '89 WS when the earthquake came. I really had no point of reference to determine how awful it all was.

I also remember around that time - probably the summer of '89, my parents were house-hunting in Santa Cruz, which later became the epicenter of the quake. I don't know if this factored into their decision at all (probably the cost of housing was a bigger factor) but by then we were no longer considering moving to northern California.
   6. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: October 23, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4581057)
That's interesting that geologist predicted it.

I don't know this particular guy's backstory, but there is a constant influx of earthquake predictions so someone is bound to be right eventually. I'm very skeptical about things like earthquake weather and the ability of animals to predict a quake any more than a few seconds ahead.
   7. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 23, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4581059)
I'd like to see a complete list of that guy's earthquake predictions.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 23, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4581063)
Murray Chass, reporter, New York Times: I felt I had to do my job. The lights were out in the press box, but there was light outside. So I went out of the press box to read some notes, and then went back to the phone to dictate. I did this several times until I dictated everything I had.


Any relation to blogger Murray Chass?
   9. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: October 23, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4581071)
I've been through three earthquakes and three hurricanes, and I'll take the quakes in a heartbeat.

Earthquakes don't come with days of pregame hype to freak you out.
   10. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: October 23, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4581079)
The Joe Dimaggio part is the nicest thing I've ever heard about him.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 23, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4581101)
The Eckersley-Canseco beaning story is hilarious.

Al Clark: We were at home plate talking about aftershocks. In fact, I had made a ground rule that in that game — and for the rest of the Series, I guess — that if there was an aftershock and the ball was live and in play, that the play would continue until the play was over.


WTF? Seriously?!?


Vincent: George Steinbrenner, the Yankees owner, called me right after the press conference and said, "I saw you on TV at that press conference. You weren't wearing a tie. A commissioner should always wear a tie. You looked like a bum."


AND SHAVE THOSE SIDEBURNS VINCENT!
   12. puck Posted: October 23, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4581147)

Any relation to blogger Murray Chass?

I think it was his dad.
   13. Jeltzandini Posted: October 23, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4581157)
Yeah, useful earthquake prediction is currently impossible, and it's not like the requisite scientists haven't tried really hard to find precursors. A guy using homing pigeons and whales is out there in quackville.
   14. Gamingboy Posted: October 23, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4581174)
Actually I think I read somewhere that they HAVE discovered a way to predict earthquakes... but it gives, like, a second or two of warning, so it might as well not exist.
   15. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 23, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4581175)

The Joe Dimaggio part is the nicest thing I've ever heard about him.

Not convinced it's true.
That recent Dimaggio bio had him returning to his house & talking his way past the firemen/safety guys because Joe Dimaggio. And then he walked out carrying nothing but a big garbage bag, which it turned out was full of cash, because Joe Dimaggio. I don't remember anything about having to stand in line, though.
   16. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: October 23, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4581196)
Also, he charged $175 to sign jagged chunks of cement.
   17. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 23, 2013 at 04:05 PM (#4581231)
Dave Henderson: We all hated Eckersley because he was basically a dick on the mound. I'd faced the guy for 10 years and he was a dick before. The only reason we let him live was because he was on our team.
   18. stanmvp48 Posted: October 23, 2013 at 04:18 PM (#4581244)
" Our first thought was to get the hell out of there, and all of us — Vic Voltaggio, Rich Garcia, Eric Gregg — we got up and ran out onto the field in time to see the wave go through the field."


Not the first or last time that Eric Gregg registered on the Richter scale.


   19. Monty Posted: October 23, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4581250)
Note that the geologist says, "The Mercury News no longer wanted to carry my predictions because they told me they were bad for business." That's the sign of someone who predicted an earthquake every month for ten years.
   20. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 23, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4581253)
Actually I think I read somewhere that they HAVE discovered a way to predict earthquakes... but it gives, like, a second or two of warning, so it might as well not exist.


When I lived in Indonesia, I told someone basically every day that an earthquake was going to hit the country some time that day. I was like the Barry Bonds of making predictions!

I experienced my first earthquake--a relatively big one by Jakarta standards--my second week there. I was in one of the new fancy malls at the time and the whole giant edifice swayed back and forth. Jesus it was scary. I'll take the hurricane over it for actual in-moment experience.
   21. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: October 23, 2013 at 04:53 PM (#4581261)
My favorite part of the piece comes when the A's have headed out of town to get some practice in while waiting for the series to resume.

La Russa: Once we were flying into Phoenix, the pilot said, "There's some extensive traffic around the ballpark." There were 8,000 people there. We found out later that parents took their kids out of school.

Art Kusnyer, A's bullpen coach: They charged like five bucks a person to get in and they gave all the proceeds to the earthquake victims.

Moore: Another Tonyism was, "We've got the best pitching staff in baseball. So who better for our hitters to face?" I don't think the hitters appreciated it too much.

Dave Henderson: We all hated Eckersley because he was basically a dick on the mound. I'd faced the guy for 10 years and he was a dick before. The only reason we let him live was because he was on our team.

Alderson: During that game, I think Eckersley drilled Canseco. He took a free shot at him.

Eckersley: Jose comes up to bat and he's pointing to center like Babe Ruth. The first pitch, I drilled Canseco in the back. I dunno, I guess I just got jacked up and threw as hard as I could. Jose's coming to the mound and he's pissed. Finally, everything cools down. It was a strange moment.

Dave Henderson: After it was all over, Canseco comes to me and says, "Hey, Hendu, you think Eckersley hit me on purpose?" I'm like, "You idiot. He's only walked three guys the whole year!"

EDIT: I see that RoyalsRetro already mentioned this bit. I was distracted by the sideburns, I guess.
   22. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: October 23, 2013 at 06:40 PM (#4581315)
I was driving home on 101 south in San Jose when the quake hit. I just remember being stuck in traffic while it was going on and after the shaking was over, the guy in the car next to me looked over and said "Rock N Roll!"
   23. esseff Posted: October 23, 2013 at 07:17 PM (#4581336)
The Joe Dimaggio part is the nicest thing I've ever heard about him.

Not convinced it's true.
That recent Dimaggio bio had him returning to his house & talking his way past the firemen/safety guys because Joe Dimaggio. And then he walked out carrying nothing but a big garbage bag, which it turned out was full of cash, because Joe Dimaggio. I don't remember anything about having to stand in line, though.


Joe DiMaggio in earthquake relief line
   24. asinwreck Posted: October 23, 2013 at 07:22 PM (#4581339)
Spent the quake in Santa Cruz, four blocks off the Pacific Garden Mall. Had the game on TV, and suddenly the TV started bouncing up and down like a basketball, hitting the floor screen-first and popping three feet into the air. Every dish in the kitchen shattered on the floor. When the ground stopped shaking we went outside and several houses on the block were off their foundations.

Couldn't see downtown, just a big cloud of dust. Later found out that several of the larger stores had collapsed.

Many days later, after the the power had been restored, we turned on the television and were surprised that it still worked.

   25. Al Kaline Trio Posted: October 23, 2013 at 07:34 PM (#4581347)
McCarver: Baseball has often been criticized for having games start at five or eight Eastern [Time] for big events like the World Series, but imagine if that hadn't been the starting time. Just imagine the casualties — because instead of people already at home ready to watch the game in the Bay area, it would've been more devastating because that would've been in rush hour.


All I have to say to this is ?
   26. Al Kaline Trio Posted: October 23, 2013 at 07:36 PM (#4581349)
I was 9 years old at the time and lived in Santa Cruz, I was home alone watching the pre-game and fell off the couch and ran around trying to find something to hide under. I ran outside after it stopped and saw my neighbors and yelled "No Homework!"
   27. Justin T steals bases with his bat Posted: October 23, 2013 at 07:51 PM (#4581363)
I was also nine. Living in San Mateo. And I was working on a baseball card trade with my friend over at his house when it struck. I don't recall the particulars of the trade discussions. My friend's dad was adamant about us getting in the doorway. Which we did, of course.
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: October 23, 2013 at 07:58 PM (#4581375)

couldn't find it on the innerwebs, but didn't UPI have an advance for Game 3 along the lines of "seems like only an earthquake would prevent Oakland from finishing off this series...."
   29. Traderdave Posted: October 23, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4581377)
A relative who lived in the Marina at the times *claims* to have been in next line over from DiMaggio.


Claims.
   30. esseff Posted: October 23, 2013 at 08:08 PM (#4581387)
couldn't find it on the innerwebs, but didn't UPI have an advance for Game 3 along the lines of "seems like only an earthquake would prevent Oakland from finishing off this series...."


Kevin Cowherd, then with the Baltimore Sun, wrote something along those lines.
   31. Good cripple hitter Posted: October 23, 2013 at 08:09 PM (#4581391)
We've gone 30 posts without anyone mentioning that some poor sap was untangling one of the windsocks from the top of one of the light towers without a safety belt when the earthquake hit?

"You're like watching this thing move, looking down from a pole bending like spaghetti, and thinking, Oh my god. I'm saying my good-byes. Then I vomit, and that was really strange because I felt like I was vomiting on everybody in the stadium. I'm waiting all these years for someone to tell me that "I had my favorite Hawaiian shirt on, and I know that was you."

That's phenomenal.
   32. Howling John Shade Posted: October 23, 2013 at 08:10 PM (#4581394)
I was 10 and in Petaluma. The TV went dead before the earthquake made it that far north, so I had time to get up and start pressing buttons before the house started shaking.

My dad was driving home on 101 and didn't realize it was an earthquake, he just thought he had a flat tire and pulled over. Then he realized that 30 or 40 other people had also pulled over and that something might be up.

My uncle was drunk on a boat in the middle of the bay. They didn't feel anything, but suddenly a chunk of the bay bridge fell into the water and smoke started coming up from all sorts of places on the shore.
   33. Leroy Kincaid Posted: October 23, 2013 at 08:19 PM (#4581407)
I just assumed the "prediction" in the excerpt was intended as humor and not to be taken seriously.
   34. Howie Menckel Posted: October 23, 2013 at 08:24 PM (#4581421)

good call, esseff

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-08-23/sports/bal-sportsblitz-kevin-cowherd-earthquake0823_1_earthquake-prediction-58-magnitude-earthquake-column

"In a humor column for The Evening Sun, which happened to get picked up by The San Jose Mercury News, Cowherd joked that there might not even be a World Series because “an earthquake could rip through the Bay Area before they sing the national anthem for Game 3.” "

   35. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: October 23, 2013 at 09:28 PM (#4581664)
My uncle was drunk on a boat in the middle of the bay. They didn't feel anything, but suddenly a chunk of the bay bridge fell into the water and smoke started coming up from all sorts of places on the shore.

is your Uncle Walter Matthau?
   36. Howling John Shade Posted: October 23, 2013 at 09:41 PM (#4581716)
is your Uncle Walter Matthau?
Similar taste in hats, but sadly no.
   37. Steve Treder Posted: October 23, 2013 at 09:51 PM (#4581754)
My dad was driving home on 101 and didn't realize it was an earthquake, he just thought he had a flat tire and pulled over. Then he realized that 30 or 40 other people had also pulled over and that something might be up.

That is *precisely* what happened to me, except that I was on 280 instead of 101.

All of us looking at our tires, and then looking at each other. It was surreal.

   38. Justin T steals bases with his bat Posted: October 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4581823)
I wasn't on the road, as related above, but the stories of everyone who was driving all being just the same with regard to the suspected flat tires is one of the things I remember most about the whole thing.
   39. Rob_Wood Posted: October 24, 2013 at 12:29 AM (#4582026)
same story with me, though i was on junipero serra blvd (on the stanford campus). the onset happened so quickly i cannot separate these two observations: (i) car in front of me pulls over to side of road and (ii) it feels like i have four flat tires. because i wanted to get home to watch the game, i kept going. the four-flat tires feeling stopped after a few seconds. the hanging street signs were swinging wildly, so i finally figured out that we were having an earthquake. of course i got home and had no electricity to watch the game on tv. no electricity for three days, i think.
   40. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: October 24, 2013 at 01:34 AM (#4582032)
I was working in a baseball card store in Berkeley at the time. Business was fantastic, but by 4 or so, it had gotten quiet as people were heading home to watch the game. I had the A's crew on the radio and all of a sudden the ground started shaking. I got in a doorway...soon people were saying there was a fire at the library (turned out to be an auto body shop), then all the reports started coming in of the bridge being down. I left soon thereafter and my most vivid memory is driving on the University Ave overpass to get on 80 headed out toward Pinole and looking across the Bay and seeing the Marina fire clear as day. When I got home, my wife was waiting for me...she had been on the lower deck of the Cypress structure 5 minutes before the quake hit. Very sobering day...
   41. Flynn Posted: October 24, 2013 at 05:05 AM (#4582041)
All I have to say to this is ?


Rush hour practically didn't exist during that World Series. The roads were unusually empty as people either left work early or stayed at office parties to watch the games.

Only 1 person died on the Bay Bridge, and 42 people died when the Nimitz pancaked (2/3rds of the total deaths from the quake). Imagine if the Bay Bridge was full of rush-hour commuters, or the Nimitz had bumper to bumper traffic.

Edit: I was on a waterbed at my babysitter's house at the time, watching You Can't Do That On Television. That was fun. I remember that she had a huge CD collection and watching the entire thing fall onto the floor.
   42. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 24, 2013 at 07:59 AM (#4582049)
i remember it took several days to hear from my best friend who lives in the area to make sure he and his family were ok. no cell phones back then young'uns.

and my one son's vibration analysis class at Wisconsin got a sub because the professor who taught the class was rushed out to the area as part of a team studying the earthquakes impact to the area or some such. i only remember because my son griped about getting a sub for the rest of the semester and this is a kid who never gripes about anything including when he worked for me.

but boy did he hate that sub who i guess was awful mostly because he could not speak much english
   43. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: October 24, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4582092)
I was eleven. I thought our television was broken when the earthquake happened because the picture spazzed out. I smacked the television with the palm of my hand and my father yelled at me.
   44. Worrierking Posted: October 24, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4582161)
They got the idea for the article after experiencing Prince Fielder's slide the other night.
   45. President of the David Eckstein Fan Club Posted: October 24, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4582190)
I was five, living in Alameda. We were heading into the house as it hit, I remember it being just about the scariest thing I ever experienced as a kid.
   46. Gaylord Perry the Platypus (oi!) Posted: October 24, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4582251)
I smacked the television with the palm of my hand

Ah, yes, I remember doing that often. It worked, until it didn't.
   47. esseff Posted: October 24, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4582319)
Only 1 person died on the Bay Bridge,


And that death was after the quake, when a driver panicked and wanted to get off the bridge so badly that she gunned her car in hopes that it would jump over the fallen section. Alas, car jumps work only in movies.
   48. Morty Causa Posted: October 24, 2013 at 12:29 PM (#4582329)
####### women drivers.
   49. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: October 24, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4582443)
I remember we had basketball practice that day, and we were all rushing to get it over with because in Portland half the kids were Giants fans. Practice ended at 5.30, and as we were driving the six blocks home I remember my dad trying to find the game on the radio and he couldn't. When we got home we went down into the basement, where the TV was, and we got it on, and they were replaying footage from the Stick and explaining what was going on, and my dad said, "Jesus ####### Christ." It was the first time I ever heard him use a real swear word. I was nine.
   50. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: October 24, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4582446)
I smacked the television with the palm of my hand
Percussive maintenance.

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