Series Highlight: The Loma Prieta Earthquake Prior to Game 3
The 1989 World Series pitted the Oakland Athletics against cross-town, or cross-bridge as it were, foes the San Francisco Giants, dubbed the "Battle of the Bay" or "BART Series" or the "Bay Bridge Series." Sadly, this became the "Earthquake Series" just prior to the start of Game 3, when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the Bay Area causing massive damage throughout the area, collapsing portions of the Bay Bridge and killing 42 people. This was, nonetheless, the first cross-town battle since the 1956 World Series when the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers four-games-to-three. The defending American League champion A’s again boasted a superior pitching staff with Dave Stewart (21-9, 3.32 ERA, 155 Ks) leading the way with 19-game winners Storm Davis and Mike Moore and 17-game winner Bob Welch filling out the AL leading starting rotation. However, not to be forgotten are future Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley, who posted 33 save and Rick Honeycutt, who had 12 of his own. The offense was led by first baseman Mark McGwire (33 HR, 95 RBI), designated hitter Dave Parker (22 HR, 97 RBI), right fielder Jose Canseco (17 HR, 57 RBI) and centerfielder Dave Henderson (15 HR, 80 RBI) while speedy left fielder Rickey Henderson led the AL in stolen bases (77), walks (126) and runs scored (113). The A’s easily won the American League West by seven games over the Kansas City Royals before beating the Toronto Blue Jay 4-1 in the ALCS.
National League MVP left fielder Kevin Mitchell led the San Francisco Giants with a league-leading 47 home runs, 125 RBI and a .635 slugging percentage with All-Star first baseman Will Clark adding 23 homers, third baseman Matt Williams hitting 18 and second baseman Robby Thompson also clouting 13 long balls. San Fran finished in the top five in most of the offensive categories including second in home runs (141), RBI (647), triples (52), runs scored (699) and fielding percentage (.982). 17-game winner Rick Reuschel led the Giants pitching staff that also featured Scott Garrelts (14-5) and closers Craig Lefferts (20) and Steve Bedrosian (17) who combined for 37 of the Giants 47 saves. The Giants managed to slip past the San Diego Padres by three games to win the National League West and then toppled the NL’s best Chicago Cubs 4-1 in the NLCS.
Prior to Game 1, a special tribute was made to MLB Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, who passed away suddenly only a month before the playoffs began. Not too unexpectedly, Oakland’s fireballer Dave Stewart gave up only five hits in Game 1 while striking out six to post a 6-0 shutout at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Stewart and the A’s got their offense from the bats of Parker and shortstop Walt Weiss who each knocked solo home runs. Game 2 was much of the same as Mike Moore outdueled Giants ace Rick Reuschel going seven strong innings with seven strikeouts for a 5-1 victory. Catcher Terry Steinbach blasted a three-run home run in fourth providing all the offense the A’s would need to win and go up 2-0 in the Series.
As preparations were beginning for the start of Game 3, now playing at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, the Loma Prieta Earthquake, registering 6.9 on the Richter scale, struck the Bay Area with an epicenter in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco and Oakland. While ABC Sports crew of Tim McCarver, Al Michael and Jim Palmer were taking their places in the broadcast booth as cameras rolled, the earthquake hit Candlestick, jarring the announcers and shaking the stadium for close to 15 seconds. Players had already taken the field to perform on-filed interviews with the press as family members and fans watched, before the quake knocked out the power to many of the feeds. Whereas many of the press and broadcast crews fled for cover, ABC Sports held strong and Al Michaels became the voice for ABC News once power was restored and the ABC Nightly News with Ted Koppel took over the breaking news. The Goodyear Blimp not only provided aerial views of the city, but also helped coordinate with first responders where the most crucial points were amongst the destruction. Acting commissioner Fay Vincent postponed Game 3 for five days initially, but then extended it to another five days as the city still lacked communications and transmission links vital to the broadcast. He also considered moving the Series to another ballpark, including Chicago’s Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park, The Houston Astrodome, or New York’s Yankees Stadium or Shea Stadium, in the event that San Francisco would not be ready in time. Originally slated for October 17, Game 3 finally took place ten days later on October 27.
Game 3 began with a spirited opening as the clubs saluted the emergency services; the police and fire departments from the area, by having members throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Unfortunately for the Giants, the A’s bats did not go flat with the long layoff as they crushed five home runs, two by Dave Henderson, who also narrowly missed a third in the first inning, to beat San Francisco 13-7. Stewart struck out eight Giant batters, but did give up a long ball to Matt Williams. Reliever Gene Nelson would also give up a Giant homer to Bill Bathe in the ninth. The combined seven home runs by both teams set a World Series record and the A’s tied the record with five in one game by a single team. As the Athletics held the Giants against the ropes, Game 2 winner Mike Moore returned to end the bloodshed. He held San Francisco scoreless until the sixth inning, but by then the A’s had already put up six runs, three in the second and three in the fifth. The A’s scored another run in the top of the sixth when the giants finally got on the board with two runs in the sixth from a two-run blast from Kevin Mitchell. Greg Litton added another two-run shot in the seventh and the giants began to show some life as they put four on the board cutting the A’s lead to 8-6. Reliever Todd Burns and then closer Dennis Eckersley ended any possibility losing the lead when they each sent three down in a row to end the game with a 9-6 score. This was Oakland’s first World Series title since 1974 and the first for manager Tony LaRussa, who would also lead the St. Louis Cardinals to two World Series titles (2006, 2011). Game 4 was the last World Series game played at the legendary Candlestick Park. In lieu of the earthquake victims, the A’s opted not to celebrate their win in typical fashion with a parade. And, for his superb coverage of the World Series and the ensuing Loma Prieta Earthquake, Al Michaels was nominated for an Emmy Award for news broadcasting.