30 Years Later: A Loma Prieta Earthquake Reflection

30 Years Later: A Loma Prieta Earthquake Reflection

Courtesy of MLB Vault

It was a warm, sunny mid-October afternoon 30 years ago. Not your typical "earthquake weather."

At 5:00pm that afternoon, the Lincoln High School junior varsity football practice had just ended for me and I was excited to get off the field and arrive home in time to watch Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's.

It was the first time the two Bay Area teams met in the World Series. It was appropriately dubbed the "Bay Bridge Series." The Giants had lost the first two games in Oakland but there was optimism for the Giants to get back into the series if they could win Game 3.

However just as I was getting ready to head to the locker room, the assistant coach had my friend Marc and I go back to the tackling sled, about 50 yards from where we were, to take the bags off of it and put them away, much to my chagrin. To this day I think he did that on purpose.

Four minutes later, as we're both at the bottom of the sled unbuckling the bags as you had to work your way from the bottom up to get the bags off, we felt the sled moving to which we both screamed, "who the %$^& is moving the sled?!" Thinking some of our teammates were messing with us (as we would pull silly pranks on each other) we both looked up and saw nobody within 50 yards of us.

The most powerful earthquake to hit the Bay Area in 83 years was thunderous as it roared its way for the 15-20 seconds that it lasted. For the first time in my life I saw the ground rolling like a wave in an ocean. I kept switching back to seeing my teammates jumping to the ground, the apartment windows across the field rattling and the grass shaking. The whole time I was thinking is the ground going to split open and is it going to swallow me up?

The feeling I had during the rumbling was not one of fear, growing up in California I had experienced earthquakes since I was a kid, but of astonishment that something could last that long and not knowing when it was going to end. Kind of like going on a scary roller coaster for the first time and not knowing when it ends.

Half of the school's swimming pool splashed out like a tsunami and after it was over my teammates and I were kind of wondering what had just happened. When I got home I was still hoping to watch the game only to discover the power was out and the phone lines were down. Thankfully none of my family members were injured, nor did our house suffer any damage, not even a broken dish from what I can recall.

Now this was at least a good six years before being able to log on to the Internet (who remembers America Online?) and two decades before being able to check out news on your smartphone.

So my disappointment was how was I going to watch the game as I always liked to have my vibe when watching sports and especially a World Series game. It wasn't till we got power back and started watching the news on how bad the devastation was throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains all the way up to the North Bay and everywhere in between.

The collapses of the Bay Bridge and Cypress Structure, the fires in the Marina District in San Francisco, the total destruction of downtown Santa Cruz was just some of the images that left us feeling numb, putting things into perspective.

63 lives were lost, 3,757 people were injured and estimated $6 billion in damages were the stats. However through all of the misery that the quake caused, people came together and helped one another. There was immense bravery of the first responders who risked their own lives to save people trapped in the two road collapses. Strangers helping strangers and volunteering their time to help those who were badly affected by the quake.

I recently watched NBC Bay Area's documentary on Loma Prieta, that looked back 30 years later. It included interviews of former athletes, politicians and the people whose stories we read and heard about. Also listening to some of the people's stories on talk radio really tugged at my emotions today which has never has happened on any anniversary before.

The World Series returned to action 10 days after the quake with the A's sweeping the Giants for their last World Series title. As disappointed as I was that the Giants didn't win, it all took a backseat to what had happened.

If there was a silver lining to the Loma Prieta quake, it is that now engineers and construction companies make sure their buildings are retrofitted to handle future earthquakes.

Wherever you were that day and whatever your tale was, be thankful and appreciative for what you have. A day that changed the Bay Area forever feels like it was yesterday and we shall always remember Loma Prieta.

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