Fans say goodbye to storied Candlestick Park

Paul McCartney will bring down the curtain on Candlestick Park, the San Francisco stadium with over 50 years of history that go far beyond baseball and football, CBS News' John Blackstone reports.

In August 1966, the stadium was the site of The Beatles' final concert of their last tour together.

The night of the show, The Beatles were relegated to the visiting team's locker room, barred from the clubhouse used by the San Francisco Giants.

beatlescandlestick.jpg
The Beatles walk onto Candlestick Park
JB, © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

"They didn't trust the Beatles; they didn't even trust the pope," said tour director Amanda Tugwell.

Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at the stadium in 1987 with 80,000 followers.

"Religious history, music history, sports history, this place is ringing with history," Tugwell said.

Tugwell has been leading tours through Candlestick, which is set to be torn down this fall. She takes fans into the locker rooms and onto the field itself for a final goodbye.

Raymond Lopez remembered watching his first football game there as a little boy.

Candlestick Park is seen as it was being built for the San Francisco Giants March 4, 1959.
Candlestick Park's construction
AP Photo/Ernest K. Bennett

"I'm not a very religious person, but when we came here, this was church for us, so it's tough," Lopez said. "It's a lot of history behind here, not for just the team, but personally."

Candlestick opened in 1960 as the home of the Giants, newly transplanted from New York. It was where Willie Mays thrilled the crowd with home run after home run.

It was also where a sellout crowd was rocked by a 7.1 earthquake that interrupted the 1989 World Series.

"And then all of a sudden you heard like a bang," said Candlestick chief engineer Mike Gay. "And it really, really shook hard. It seemed like it lasted for five minutes."

Buildings and bridges collapsed in San Francisco, but Candlestick held firm. No one was injured.

In 1981, 49ers quarterback Joe Montana threw a game-winning pass to Dwight Clark so dramatic it has been known ever since simply as "The Catch."

"When you came to 'The Stick,' you knew that it was going to be something special," said 49ers Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott, one of the stars of the legendary 49ers team that won four Super Bowls.

"I'll be able to watch [the demolition], but my heart will be empty," Lott said.

Dave Dravecky was a pitcher for the Giants in 1988 when he underwent surgery for cancer in his left arm, his pitching arm. He was able to pitch again, but the cancer returned. Dravecky lost his arm, but nothing can take away his love for The Stick.

"This is a place where a little boy's dream came true, not once but twice, the second time after being told 10 months earlier I'd never be able to pitch, so there's a lot of wonderful memories here," Dravecky said.

McCartney brings Candlestick's long and winding road to an end Thursday night. The next time The Stick attracts a crowd it will be for the implosion that brings it down.

"In my life, I believe that you pay your respects at the end of someone's life," Lott said. "And you pay them because of what they stand for. This place stands for a lot."

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