<
>

Curt Young remembers 1989 quake

10/10/2009


When you think of the earthquake, what do you think of?

Well, how unexpected it really was. I mean, we went into that expecting to play Game 3 after beating [the Giants] the first two games, and then a day off going into Game 3, excited to play a baseball game, and then it hit. I mean, that's how unexpected it really was. You especially look back now as time goes on, how much of a disaster it really was.


Where were you when it happened?

I was in the clubhouse; probably, I'd probably say half our team was still in there, and just sitting at my locker, waiting to go out onto the field. And just to tell you what happened, the buildings started shaking, and the vents that were in the locker room, the dust was pouring out so hard, I thought there was some kind of fire. I mean, that's how much movement that created, with the dust that had been sitting there for years came pouring out of the vents. And then the lights went out, and Harvey, the clubhouse guy, yelled, "Get the heck out of here," and we all scattered. Really it turned pitch dark after we were able to see the smoke, and we scattered.


Where did you scatter to?

Out the back door. Not onto the field. We went out the back door kinda into the parking lot. And you could hear everybody talking. There was basically an uproar going on, and you could look up and still see the light towers basically swinging back and forth.


But aren't you supposed to pitch a game right then?

I actually was. Bob Welch had hurt his groin the day before … running at me, pretending he was going first to third. And he said, "Hey, I think I just, I think I just popped my groin." I'm like, "No way, Bobby." And he had. He'd hurt himself, and he didn't think he was going to be able to pitch, and I was next in line. So, I was kind of preparing to pitch that day. That's what I was doing sitting in the clubhouse, and then it hit.


This is probably the biggest game of your life. This is it, right?

Oh yeah, oh yeah, I mean a chance to pitch in the World Series. And it wasn't 100 percent, but obviously I was feeling like I was going to pitch. And for that to happen definitely ended that.


Did you get to pitch in the World Series?

No, I didn't pitch at all in that series in '89.


How did the earthquake affect you?

Well, really, the ride back from Candlestick to where we were living, in Albany, was really where the effect kind of hit me. Going through San Francisco, pitch dark. No lights at all. People out in the streets. Cars broke down. Knowing that the Bay Bridge, one of the sections had collapsed, was definitely something big. And we had to go all the way through San Francisco down to the Richmond Bridge to come across to Albany. And really, that taking six-seven hours to do that, and we did. Personally, we had our first child with a babysitter that we'd never met before back in the apartment. So, yeah, it was a pretty long ride for my family, my wife, myself … just kind of wondering with no contact going on. Thinking maybe the babysitter just left and went to her home and left our child who was under 1-year-old, so those are the things you remember, and going through that city and seeing what had happened. With the fires, and just a lot going on, definitely.


Terry Steinbach had a similar situation. His 2-year-old daughter, Jill, was with a babysitter. Did you see how the earthquake affected Terry and his family? Did you notice that?

Yeah, well, it was known that Mary, Terry's wife, kind of had a fear. Fear of earthquakes, and she had water and supplies and everything in their apartment just in case it did happen, and for it to really happen and be happening when she was away from her child, and the same as us, was a true shock.


Were there stories of that earthquake that stayed with you?

Well, the one, the one year that we lived in Albany instead of living east over in Pleasanton or San Ramon. We lived in Albany to be closer to San Francisco. We drove on the Cypress structure every day coming to the ballpark. So it's a whole different area that a few of us lived over there got to know, and the fact that we did drive on that and around that time a little bit after 5 o'clock, it was, I'm going to say it was gridlock every single day, because you find a way to work your way around the traffic and cut in. I mean, that's how many people were obviously commuting and leaving town. Just the fact that driving on that Cypress structure and knowing what happened with the collapse of it definitely put a little fear in you. And the one thing, I mean, as us being in the stadium, the thing you heard, the Cypress structure collapsed, a lot of people were saying that the Bay Bridge collapsed. That was kind of a confusion that was kind of surrounding what was going on that day when it happened.


What was it like on the field for those players?

We all came out on the field, Giants included. And just trying to find your family in the stands was really kinda on everybody's mind individually. And we weren't quite sure where they were sitting and that type of thing, but once we spotted them and everybody was able to come down on the field, we were able to get together and some of us hopped on the bus, some of us were able to go with the families that had driven to the game. Once that happened, we all scattered as a team and really kind of went our own way and made sure we were taking care of the people we were with.

Tom Friend is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.