The World Series had one its most memorable moments in 1988 when Kirk Gibson hit a dramatic home run. The following year, the 1989 World Series became memorable for an entirely different reason. The 1989 World Series between the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants was deemed the “Battle of the Bay” and ended on October 28th but that was after a 10-day delay due to a severe earthquake.
The magnitude 6.9 earthquake occurred on October 17th just as Game 3 in San Francisco was getting ready to begin (about 5 pm Pacific time) and served to make this World Series much more unforgettable than the actual baseball games did. Here is the live footage of the broadcast as the earthquake actually happened (at about the 4:35 mark)…
I remember watching the game live when that happened and being as confused as I am sure most other viewers were. You can hear ABC play-by-play man Al Michaels exclaim, “I’ll tell you what, we are having an earthquake.” I remember watching the news coverage of the aftermath for several hours as I hadn’t witnessed many live disasters like this in my lifetime up to that point. Michaels would end up being nominated for the Emmy Award for news broadcasting after continuing to report in the wake of the events that day at Candlestick Park. The earthquake caused plenty of damage, confusion, disruption and terror in the ballpark and entire Bay area. Candlestick Park suffered damage to its upper deck as pieces of concrete fell from the top of the stadium and the power was knocked out. The game was, of course, postponed out of concerns for the safety of everyone in the ballpark as well as the loss of power. The earthquake caused a section of the Bay Bridge which connects Oakland and San Francisco to collapse and ultimately 42 fatalities. Baseball rightfully took a back seat to this tragedy.
With all of the attention the earthquake rightly received, many people forget how great this Oakland A’s team was. This was the second of three straight World Series appearances for the A’s. The Oakland A’s dominated the 1989 World Series both before and after the earthquake. They had won the first two games 5-0 and 5-1 respectively. There was a 10-day delay after the earthquake before they ended up playing game 3. Then the A’s would complete the sweep by winning the next two games 13-7 and 9-6. This was the first World Series where the losing team never had the lead in any game and never even had the tying run at the plate in its final turn at-bat. It had been the first sweep in the World Series since 1976.
As a life-long fan of Rickey Henderson, I was definitely cheering for the A’s in this series. This team which won the 1989 championship is certainly one of the best teams of the ’80s decade. In addition to the one-and-only Rickey Henderson, the team also featured Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Dave Parker, Carney Lansford and Dave Henderson in its intimidating line-up. They were managed by Tony LaRussa and had a pitching staff which included future Hall-of-Famer Dennis Eckersley and World Series MVP Dave Stewart. They could have gone on to become a dynasty, but would lose the World Series the next year to the Cincinnati Reds. I still have the t-shirt from 1989 commemorating the A’s World Series championship (I have included a picture of it below as visual proof).
Between the earthquake and the dominating performance by the A’s, the ’80s decade of Major League Baseball came to a memorable end.