WARNING: Most of the gifs and photos you are about to see were made from YouTube videos, using only the most cutting edge technologies available. Therefore the image quality is second-to-none. Be prepared to have your mind blown.
For myself, and maybe for some of you as well, last Friday night marked the beginning of a nice, long string of days off from work. It’s a special time of year, when faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us, to watch the Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl … and do other fun stuff.
Consequently, last Friday night also marked the end of the annual waiting period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, otherwise known as The Most Interminable Stretch of Work Days Known to Humankind. It’s during this time, when I try (and usually fail) to counteract 11 months worth of procrastination with a solid three weeks of really hard work. What … everybody waits until the first week of December to answer emails from April, right? Right?
Right. Okay, good. Back to my point. So, there I was last Friday night. Sitting on my couch, drinking a celebratory beer, watching a downright boring Warriors win over the Lakers, when it occurred to me that I hadn’t spent nearly enough time over the last few weeks “Saying goodbye to The ‘Stick.”
That’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Read one or two of the approximately 4,000 stories, columns, and blogs written about Saying Goodbye to Candlestick. Reminisce about the good ol’ days. Explore our feelings. Call KNBR and share our favorite memories.
“Hi, Ray. First time, long time. Love the show. My Candlestick memory is really unique. It was cold and windy…”
Am I doing this right?
Anyways, after I got done exploring my feelings (and a six-pack of finely crafted ales), I decided to fire up the laptop and take a stroll down memory lane with a little help from our friends down at the world wide web. What I found was a treasure trove of old photos and grainy, VCR-quality footage of everything from The Catch to The Catch III (including The Catch II)! Here are some of the highlights.
If you’re old enough to remember The Catch, then chances are (as our friend Gary Radnich likes to say) you’re probably out of the demographic. It’s okay. You can stay. Honestly, us young folks are pretty jealous. I would love to say I have memories of The Catch, but I don’t. What I do have though is access to a pristine VHS copy of the 1981 NFC Championship game. Let me tell you, the 1982 commercials alone make the tape worth its weight in gold. If you ever get the chance, definitely try to watch the game in its entirety. It’s an amazing game from kickoff to victory formation. Until then, you’ll have to settle for this 15 minute video of the complete final drive.
The Catch itself is truly a great catch. There’s no over-hyping it. But just seeing highlights of The Catch isn’t enough. You need to see the entire drive leading up to the play to truly appreciate the drama of the moment. The build up is incredible. Vin Scully is incredible. The CBS Sports production is incredible. This gif of a baby-faced Eddie DeBartolo Jr. pacing up and down the sidelines, puffing on a cigarette, is incredible…
Present day Giants fans love to dress up in crazy hats and wear silly costumes to the game. Some of them are genuine goof balls, just there to have a good time. Some of them are attention-seeking, Franken-stooges built in a Comcast Sportsnet laboratory. Some of them are figments of Greg Papa’s creepy imagination come to life. And then there are these Authentic Candlestick fans from the 80’s and 90’s…
Look at that leather jacket straight out of Michael Jackson’s closet. The totally 80’s trenchcoat. A leather vest worn casually over a 49ers t-shirt. Unironic mesh hats everywhere. This is Candlestick Park circa 1982.
And whether they’re clapping wildly in red or gold Isotoners, or drinking beer and smokin’ butts in the stands, the ladies have always shown up in force to support the 49ers and this gif proves it! — Bonus points if you can find all five 49ers painter’s caps in this gif!
I don’t know if it was the style of the time, or just a San Francisco thing, but Niner fans just loved to wear cowboy hats back in the day. Red cowboy hats…and moustaches. What a great look. Let’s bring this fad back really soon, okay guys? Promise?
Banjo Man gets his own section because he’s the bestest, most banjo playing-est fan ever to serenade the 49er faithful. I hope he makes it over to Levi’s Stadium, and I hope they slap a Facebook sticker on his banjo and cut him a fat check. Viva la Mancha de Banjo!
Joe’s Last Game at The ‘Stick
On December 28th, 1992, the 49ers played a seemingly meaningless Week 16 game against the Detroit Lions. There were no playoff implications, but the game was anything but meaningless to 65,000 raving lunatics calling for Steve Young to find his way to the bench, so their hero could assume his rightful place upon the 49ers throne.
If you think Colin Kaepernick has been treated unfairly by Alex Smith fans, consider this. In 1992, Steve Young led the 49ers to a 14-2 record and home field advantage in the NFC. He threw for 25 touchdowns (against 7 interceptions), while racking up 537 yards rushing and a 107 passer rating on his way to winning NFL MVP honors. Even with all of that success, Young started the game against a backdrop of fanatical “JOE! JOE! JOE!” chants.
Montana had finally returned to the active roster in week 16 after missing the entire 1991 season. The fans clearly weren’t impressed with Young (some never will be), making their voices heard in the stands that night and on the legendary KGO-810 49ers post game call-in shows with then host, Rich Walcoff.
In the most awkward of awkward situations, head coach George Seifert finally opted to “rest his starter” (singular) and let Joe and the crowd have one last magical moment. Montana entered the game for the 2nd half and promptly thrashed the Lions for 2 touchdowns and a 118.4 passer rating.
The following year, Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, thus settling the first (and greatest) ever quarterback controversy. But not before this incredibly awkward scene, as ABC’s Monday Night Football cameras caught Steve Young waiting on the sidelines to give Joe Montana the most uncomfortable high-five in NFL history.
(caption: “Slap hands! Slap hands! Slap hands!”)
The Catch II
Y’all know the story. Sometime around the mid-to-late 90’s, Bill Parcels’ Giants teams mated with the Dallas Cowboys Triplets, creating a species of cyborg Green Bay Packers Hellbent on destroying the Niner Empire. For a while it was working, too. Young and the 49ers couldn’t beat the Gunslinger, Brett Favre. As Krukow would say, the Packers had ownage on the Niners.
Then on January 4th, 1999, Young threw the ball to Terrell Owens and made Favre really, really sad and we all pointed and laughed at Wisconsin and their shitty cheese and all was right with the world again.
Sad Favre. Happy Young.
Such sad, sad eyes.
Steve Young Runs Around the Stadium Like a Crazy Person
A quick note…
Dear fans born after 1990, please excuse us older folks for chuckling when you refer to the “epic” rivalry with the Seahawks currently gripping the 49ers fan base. You guys are so cute with your billboards and banners. It’s really quite charming.
I kid, I kid! The Seahawks really are annoying and they’re in our division and they’re really good at football and Pete Carroll is the Devil incarnate. The Seahawks meet all of the qualifications for a good rival. I get it. I hate ‘em too. But come on … you might not want to hear this, but it still doesn’t even come close to the rivalry between the 49ers and Cowboys of the early 90’s.
These two teams didn’t just meet every year in the regular season. They didn’t just meet in the playoffs. They met in the NFC Championship game. Three years in a row. Not only that, but in those three years (1992, 1993, 1994) the NFC team won the Super Bowl by a combined score of 131-56. That meant the NFC Championship was the de facto Super Bowl (this was common knowledge for everyone in the NFL, except the Buffalo Bills — nobody wanted to tell them). Throw in a dozen or so Hall of Famers on both sides and sprinkle a couple hundred pounds of hostility, hatred, and general disgust for one another and you had a recipe for INSANELY GOOD FOOTBALL.
So, of course, when Steve Young beat the Cowboys (twice) in 1994 … finally exorcising the ghost of Joe Montana …
Winning the elusive “big game”…standing on the precipice of greatness …
Hearing the chants of “STEVE! STEVE! STEVE!” from the same crowd that had never fully accepted him …
It’s really no surprise he kinda flipped his shit and ran around knocking people over.
Final Thoughts on The ‘Stick
[SAPPY CONCLUSION ALERT]
These are just a few of the highlights from the past 30-something years at Candlestick Park. There are so many great players, great games, and great moments, I can’t possibly catalog them all. But YouTube can … so I’m not too worried about losing those memories.
What I do worry about losing is the stuff you can’t upload to YouTube. The real memories. The feeling a place gives you. The spirit of Candlestick Park. I’ll miss the 27-minute escalator rides. The smell of steaming hot dogs wafting through the air. Emerging from the tunnel, through gale force winds, into a sea of orange seats. The low rumble of 65,000 fans building into a deafening wall of sound as Rice, then Jones, then Rathman, then Craig, then finally Montana, runs onto the field. Huey Lewis and The News. Jeffrey Osborne. Releasing a million red and gold balloons into the sky. The low-budget halftime shows. Bob Sarlotte introducing the frisbee dogs. The lingering smoke from the pregame fireworks. The SFPD on horses. The droning voice of the public address announcer, bouncing off the cement walls, echoing in my mind.
I’ll miss all of it.