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On This Date in Sports: October 17, 1989: World Series Earthquake

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Moments before the start of Game 3 of the World Series at Candlestick Park, a massive earthquake strikes Northern California. The San Francisco Giants were playing the Oakland Athletics in the Bay Bridge World Series. The Bridge that was the symbol of the series was damaged by the quake, measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale. The game would be postponed as the blimp assigned to cover the game now covered the extensive damage of the quake that killed 63 and injured 3,757 people. 

The excitement surrounding the Bay Area was reaching the stratosphere in 1989. Both the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants were at the top of their games, giving fans dreams of a Bay Bridge Series. The Oakland Athletics went to the World Series in 1988 but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games. The A’s again ruled the Western Division in the American League, posting a record of 99-63 for manager Tony LaRussa. They reached the World Series by beating the Toronto Blue Jays in five games in the ALCS. 

The San Francisco Giants won the National League West for the second time in three years by posting a record of 92-70 for Roger Craig. The Giants cause was spurred by Kevin Mitchell, who won the National League MVP. The Giants reached the World Series for the first time since 1962 by beating the Chicago Cubs in five games. 

The World Series began on the Eastern Side of the Bay at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. In the opener, Dave Stewart took the mound for the Athletics, while Scott Garrelts got the call for the Giants. The Athletics took a 3-0 lead in the second inning, scratching out three runs. Dave Parker homered in the third to make it 4-0, while Walt Weiss homered in the fourth to make it 5-0. That was all Stewart needed as he allowed just five hits in a complete-game shutout.

Mike Moore started for Oakland in Game 2, while Rick Reuschel was on the mound for the Giants. The A’s git on the board early with a double by Carney Lansford in the first inning. The Giants got their first run on the series in the third inning, when Jose Uribe scored on a sacrifice fly by Robby Thompson. Dave Parker drove in a run with a double in the fourth, while Terry Steinbach hit a three-run home run to put Oakland in front 5-1. Moore, along with Rock Honeycutt and Dennis Eckersley. 

After being outscored 10-1 in the first two games, the Giants hoped a ride across the bay would change their fortunes. The first pitch was set for 5:35 locally on a Tuesday, as fans were filing into their seats for the pregame ceremonies. Fans raced home to catch the first pitch as ABC began their national coverage with highlights of Game 2. As the highlights aired, Candlestick Park began to sway at 5:04. By the time the shaking was done, it was clear that this was no minor earthquake.

Players and fans all held their breath as they began to take account of what was going on. After being off the air for a short time, ABC resumed its coverage from San Francisco. By now, it was becoming clear that the World Series would not be played that night. The blimp that provided aerial coverage during the game now showed fires in San Francisco and a large section of the Bay Bridge, the symbol of the series damaged. A large stretch of highway had pancaked, as 63 people were killed. The earthquake measured 7.1 on the Richter scale and centered out of Loma Prieta, 57 miles south of San Francisco.

As Oakland and San Francisco cleaned up from the earthquake, the World Series was put on hold. Both stadiums had to be checked for structural damage, as the roads into and out the cities needed to be repaired. The World Series would resume on October 27th, ten days after the earthquake, as rescue workers were honored before Game 3. 

Game 3 would see a rematch of the opener as Scott Garrelts, and Dave Stewart met again. The Athletics got to Garrelts early as Dave Henderson had a two-run double in the first inning. Matt Williams put the Giants on the board with a home run in the third, but Oakland answered in the third as Dave Henderson and Tony Phillips homered to make it 4-1. Terry Kennedy drove in two runs in the bottom of the inning to keep San Francisco in the game. However, Jose Canseco broke the game open with a three-run shot in the fifth as Dave Henderson homered again to make the score 8-3. Carney Lansford added a home run in the sixth, while Oakland added four more runs in the eighth to eventually build a 13-3 lead. In the ninth, the Giants scored four runs, thanks in part to a three-run home run by Bill Bathe, but Oakland was clearly in command with a 13-7 victory.

Looking for the sweep, the A’s sent Mike Moore to the mound while Don Robinson started for the Giants. It was Oakland’s day again as Rickey Henderson led off with a home run. In the second, the Athletics added three more runs, as Moore doubled home a pair and scored on a single by Rickey Henderson. In the fifth inning, the Athletics extended the lead to 7-0 as Terry Steinbach had a two-run double and later scored on a Tony Phillips double. One inning later, Henderson had a triple and scored on a single by Lansford to give Oakland an 8-0 advantage. The Giants would fight back as Kevin Mitchell had a two-run shot in the sixth. In the seventh, they added four more sparked by a two-run homer from Greg Litton. However, Steve Bedrosian issued a bases-loaded walk in the eighth as Oakland had Dennis Eckersley on the mound with a 9-6 lead. In the ninth, Eck retired the Giants in order, beating Brett Butler to the first base bag to end the series.