At the time of the earthquake, Bubba Paris and his six children were eating in a San Jose restaurant. Bubba said: “The scary feeling is to see terror in your kid’s face and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
With Candlestick damaged and the World Series postponed, the 49ers moved their game on Sunday, October 22 to Stanford Stadium. Joe Montana, who was attending game 3 of the Series when Loma Prieta hit, said of the move: “Some of the guys who never have been through one of these before are going crazy. Mentally, it affects people differently. It’s going to be a big distraction.”
Michael Walter said, about whether or not the game against the Patriots should go on: “It’s a tough question to answer, but sooner or later you’re going to play football again and sooner or later they’ll be playing baseball again. There’s no right or wrong answer. You do what you feel is best. Playing or not playing this game is not going to make what happened go away.”
The Spirit of the Bay Earthquake Relief Foundation asked fans to donate canned food and blankets at the game, with the items to be sent to the Salvation Army’s distribution center in San Jose, and the 49ers were also taking cash donations for the Red Cross at the game. Some $25 tickets went on sale at Stanford on Thursday afternoon after the quake, and the proceeds went to earthquake relief efforts. Stanford Stadium had a capacity of 86,000, while Candlestick Park could hold 65,701, and the crowd at Stanford was around 75,000, so those extra 10,000 seats sold went to the Bay Area Earthquake Relief Fund. The game was the first NFL game ever relocated because of a natural disaster, and it was a pretty comfortable 49er win, 37-20 after pulling away from the Patriots in the second half. But Jeff Fuller suffered his partially paralyzing injury very early in the game, and Montana went out with a sprained knee late in the first half, to be replaced by Steve Young, who had three touchdown passes.
Afterward, Michael Carter said: “We felt like we had to give people something to be happy about, some kind of joy. If football is it, that’s OK with us.” Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. said: “We need the unifying situation, the common denominator [from going ahead with the game].” Jesse Sapolu said: “You do your best to move on, even while you know people are still trapped under that freeway.”
Patriots linebacker Ed Reynolds said: “I don’t think a lot of us were crazy about coming out here to play. There was a lot of death out here. I thought we came here out of respect for the fans. Any time there is a catastrophe like they had here, your mind is on it, but we were also getting an opportunity to play the champions, and any time you have that, you want to play.”
The Patriots’ Mosi Tatupu: “It was kind of a weird atmosphere around here. It was kind of an awkward feeling having to come here to play a game. We just had to try to remember to win the game.”
[People interested in reading more about Loma Prieta can take a look at my blog here collecting stories from it.]