EDITORS' NOTE: Twenty years ago Thursday, most people thought the Giants were playing their final game in San Francisco before moving to St. Petersburg, Fla. The following is a column Gary Peterson wrote on Sept. 27, 1992.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunday dawned clear, and bright and beautiful. The sun beamed down through a clear sky. There was just the barest hint of a breeze.
Candlestick Park beckoned like a seductress -- open, warm, embracing. It seemed to mock the plight of the Giants. Its capricious nature had tormented the franchise for years until finally, apparently, it had become a wedge driven between the team and the Bay Area.
Now it stood glorious and regal, like a temple for what might be the Giants' final game in San Francisco.
The only clouds were of uncertainty. Was this the end of something, the death of a dream, a sad, final chapter? Or was it the first day of the rest of the team's life in the Bay Area?
Giants manager Roger Craig contemplated the question from his office. The pictures had been removed from the paneled walls. Only a calendar, a Giants schedule and a few unframed snapshots remained. The room seemed stark and small.
"I'm trying to put this in the proper perspective," he said. "But what is the right perspective? What do we know? I don't know how to explain what I'm feeling inside."
That made it unanimous.
"It's like going to someone's house," said coach Bob Brenly,
"This could be the world's biggest nonevent here today."
That the day marked the end of something seemed certain. Was it Bob Lurie's tenure as owner of the team? Al Rosen's general manager stewardship? Craig's managerial career?
Or was this really it? Were the Giants about to leave town the way they had come here from New York 35 years ago?
That seemed to be the presumption of choice. A great many emotions flowed Sunday -- hope, melancholy, bewilderment, forced frivolity, a feeling of being caught up in a tidal wave of events that were now sweeping along of their own momentum.
There was a vague feeling of fatalism and loss. No decision had been rendered, no money had changed hands. But people acted as if the deed had been done, the way you take out an insurance policy to protect yourself from future heartache.
Fans took pictures. A group of writers signed a baseball for Craig. And when the Giants took the field, the crowd of 47,914 stood and cheered for more than two minutes.
In the bottom of the seventh, their rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" seemed especially poignant. So did the scoreboard, when it read in the bottom of the ninth, "The 1992 Giants thank their loyal fans."
Craig cycled his players in and out of the game, in deference to its possible historic value. In the eighth inning, four dozen police officers fanned out along the grandstand wall. Six mounted police stood poised behind the center field fence.
Something else happened in the eighth inning, too -- the Giants made a game of it. They rallied in the eighth, and scored once in the ninth off Reds reliever Rob Dibble, cutting the Cincinnati lead to 3-2.
The crowd serenaded Dibble with taunting cries of "DIB-ble! DIB-ble!" Candlestick rocked with a celebration of baseball -- either for one last time, or one more time.
And then it was over. Darren Lewis lined out to center field, and the old yard grew strangely silent. And then a greater cheer as the Giants came out onto the field en masse to salute the cheering throng.
"Stay! Stay! Stay!" chanted the fans who remained in the stands, treating the moment with dignity.
"To say goodbye... we don't know if we are saying goodbye," said Matt Williams of the team's gesture. "It was, 'Thanks for supporting us this year.' But if it was goodbye, it was, 'Thanks for supporting us all those years, too.' "
Was it the end of one year, or of many?
"Everybody's been hitting us with the nostalgia question," said Will Clark. "How can there be nostalgia when nobody knows that the hell is going on?"
Something went on at Candlestick Park Sunday, beneath a soothing sun and azure sky. Though the team's sale and transfer as still at issue, a pervasive sense of sadness hung in the air.
Thirty-five years ago, under similar, yet more certain circumstances in New York, Giants radio broadcaster Russ Hodges took a last look at the Polo Grounds and quoted a passage from Rudyard Kipling:
"The tumult and the shouting dies," he said. "The captains and kings depart. Lest we forget, lest we forget."
When the tumult and shouting died Sunday, Lurie got in his car and drove away. A group of men with shovels began tearing down the pitching mound, preparing to transform Candlestick Park into a house of football.
The captains and kings departed, not sure what they had seen or experienced. As darkness fell on San Francisco, only one thing seemed certain.
This city had never seen a better day for baseball.