Saturday, October 17, 2009

The World Series Earthquake

It was 20 years ago today that an earthquake struck during the pregame show for the third game of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's.

I remember it well. It was shortly after 7 p.m. in North Texas. I was in my apartment, about to eat my evening meal while watching the World Series. And then there was an interruption. Watch the attached clip. You'll see exactly what I saw.

It was hours — even days — before the scope of the tragedy was known. The earthquake struck on a Tuesday. I didn't manage to speak to a couple I knew who had moved out there the year before until that weekend. Fortunately, they were all right, and they told me quite a tale.

They were living in a house that had survived the legendary turn–of–the–century earthquake as well. My friend, Mike, was in the house when the earthquake struck. It shook the pictures on the wall and broke some glasses that were on the kitchen counter, but, otherwise, everything came through fine. Mike was a little shaken but unhurt.

Jane was the one who had the close call. Their house was in San Francisco, but Jane's job was across the bay in Oakland so she had to commute across the Bay Bridge twice a day.

It was a little past 5 in the afternoon local time when the earthquake happened. Under ordinary circumstances, Jane told me, she would have been in the middle of the bridge. But traffic was lighter than usual because a lot of people had gone to the game or to sports bars to watch it, and she had been off the bridge for about five minutes.

The Loma Prieta earthquake registered 6.9 on the Richter scale, killed 63 and left as many as 12,000 homeless.

The World Series resumed 10 days later, and Oakland went on to sweep it in four games.

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