I just heard about Bob Welch’s death. Perhaps his finest moment of the 1989 season came on July 28. Welch had just seen his first child, Dylan, born on the same day that his mother died. After getting word of the death, Welch headed to the airport for the funeral in Kentucky. But he got stuck in traffic, turned around, made his start, and helped the A’s to an 8-7 win in 11 innings. Welch gave up three runs in seven innings before leaving to catch another flight back to Kentucky.

In the new closing chapter to the 1991 edition of Five O’Clock Comes Early, Welch says that in July, he was aware that his mom was fading away from pancreatitis in Paducah, Kentucky, and it was just a question of time, whether the baby would come while his mom was still alive. The baby was born on July 27, an off day, and the next morning Welch found out that his mom had died, but before she did, knew that Dylan had been born. Welch writes:

“I was scheduled to pitch that evening, so I called Tony La Russa, our manager, and said I wanted to go home. Of course he agreed, but when I got to the airport, I was late for the flight and the woman at the counter would not hold the door open for me even though I told her I was heading for my mom’s funeral. I took it as a sign, and I went out to the ball park. Tony said, ‘Hey, if you want to pitch, you can have the ball,’ and I pitched eight innings and we won it in extra innings. Some people made a big deal of me pitching, but it was easier than sitting around. I caught a midnight flight heading east.”

You might remember that Welch was going to start game 3 of the World Series, but then the Loma Prieta quake happened, and Welch probably spent most of his time during the next 10 days taking care of Dylan and going through the Marina condominium he’d recently bought with his wife, which was damaged in the quake.


Here, from the start of the San Francisco Examiner’s classifieds section for Thursday, October 19, 1989, are some of the “Bay’s Ball Cheers” sent in by fans and businesses:
The Cobras gonna Bite!!! -Marty Mongoose
Go Big Daddy Go!-The Over-40 Club Fans
The A’s Will Make Ham-Burger out of Hammaker-Greg’s Burger Emporium
Everybody likes a Weiss guy-I.M. Smart
Kick the A’s A.
Humm Baby–Go Giants. Lets build a GI-Nasty. Patty & Pres.
Bedrosian is no bed of roses!-Cubs Fan
Let’s Get the Eck out of there!-Giant’s fan
The Butler Will Do it-Miss T. Ree
I’m converting to Hendu-ism-Ali Outsinfree

These were a sort of pre-text message, pre-Twitter way for people to broadcast short messages. The Examiner charged $9.45 or $12.60 per line for each message, and gave out prizes, most notably a trip to Hawaii, to about 25 of the people who paid for the messages. See the notice:

Being as surprised as I think most A’s fans are about the team winning the division in a 2012 season that was supposed to be at best a .500 showing, I’m going to celebrate by lining up the ’89 A’s against the ’12 A’s on a few statistical measures. Is there a better way to celebrate, given that this is a blog about the ’89 A’s?

1989: four players with double-digit homer totals: McGwire, 33, Dave Henderson, 15, Parker, 22, Canseco, 17. The A’s ranked sixth in the A.L. in homers, with 127.
2012: eight players with double-digit homer totals: Reddick, 32, Cespedes, 23, Moss, 21, Carter 16, Gomes, 18, Crisp, 11, Smith, 14, Inge, 11. The A’s ranked sixth in the A.L. in homers, with 195.
1989: 157 steals, second in the league. Rickey with 52 and Lansford with 37. The A’s were caught stealing 55 times, fourth in the A.L.: Rickey was caught 6 times, Lansford 15 times, and Phillips 8 times.
2012: 122 steals, fifth in the league. Crisp with 39. The A’s were caught stealing 32 times, tenth in the A.L.: Pennington was caught 6 times to lead the team.

1989: 562 walks, fourth in the league: McGwire with 83, Rickey with 70 (in 85 games), Phillips with 58, Canseco with 23.
2012: 550 walks, fourth in the league: Reddick with 55, no one else with more than 50.
1989: .331 on base percentage, third in the A.L., led by Rickey’s .425 and Lansford’s .398
2012: .310 on base percentage, twelfth in the A.L., led by Cespedes’ .356 and Moss’ .358.

1989: .381 slugging percentage, tenth in the league, led by McGwire’s .467, Canseco’s .542, Rickey’s .438.
2012: .404 slugging percentage, ninth in the league, led by Carter, .514, Cespedes, .505, and Moss, .596.

1989: 712 runs scored, fourth in the league, including Lansford’s 81, Rickey’s 77, Hendu’s 77, and McGwire’s 74.
2012: 698 runs scored, ninth in the league, including Reddick’s 85, Cespedes’ 70, and Crisp’s 68.
The 2012 A’s struck out 1387 times, the most in the A.L., setting a new A’s “record”; the 1989 A’s struck out 855 times, ninth in the A.L.

1989 pitching: Team era of 3.09, first in the A.L. led by Mike Moore’s 2.61, Bob Welch’s 3, Dave Stewart’s 3.32, and, among the relievers, Eckersley’s 1.56, Todd Burns’s 2.24, and Honeycutt’s 2.35.
2012 pitching: Team era of 3.50, second in the A.L., led by A.J. Griffin’s 3.06 and Brandon McCarthy’s 3.24, and, among the relievers, Ryan Cook’s 2.09, Jerry Blevins’ 2.48, and Grant Balfour’s 2.53.

1989: 3 complete game shutouts, all of them Moore’s, to rank first in the A.L. 17 complete games, 8 by Stewart and 6 by Moore.
2012: 0 complete game shutouts, and only one complete game, by Tommy Milone.
1989: Saves: 57 for the team, 33 by Eckersley, 12 by Honeycutt, 8 by Burns
2012: Saves: 47 for the team, 24 by Balfour, 14 by Cook.

1989: 930 team strikeouts, including 172 by Moore, 155 by Stewart, 137 by Welch, and 55 by Eckersley.
2012: 1136 team strikeouts, including Jarrod Parker’s 140 and Tommy Milone’s 137.

The 2012 A’s were shut out 16 times, and shut out the opposition 13 times. The 1989 A’s were shut out 5 times, and shut out the opposition 20 times.

1989 fielding: errors: 129, sixth in the A.L., fielding percentage of .979
2012 fielding: errors: 111, third in the A.L., fielding percentage of .982

Finally, this is the sixth time the Bay Area versions of the Giants and A’s have both been in the postseason: along with ’89, it happened in 1971, 2000, ’02, and ’03. ’89, of course, is the only time both teams have won at least one playoff series.

There are not a lot of other points of similarity between ’89 and ’12, but one is that in ’89 the Giants’ Dave Dravecky broke his left arm on the mound in Montreal in August; this year, the A’s Brandon McCarthy had a batted ball come fairly close to killing him on the mound in Oakland on September 5. Two ugly, frightening in-game injuries suffered by Bay Area pitchers. And, of course, the ’89 A’s and the ’12 A’s and Giants have all been tainted by steroids. Bob Melvin was not an ’89 Giant: he left San Francisco after the ’88 season, and was an Oriole in ’89. Some personnel on the ’89 A’s and Giants are now with the 2012 A’s or Giants, namely Gallego and Curt Young as coaches with the A’s.

In ’89, the A’s were 99-63; the Giants were 92-70: in 2012, both teams were 94-68.

In the wake of hearing about the death of Pat Neshek’s infant son as the A’s were celebrating winning the A.L. West, I should add that Dave Dravecky re-broke his left arm at Candlestick as the Giants celebrated beating the Cubs in the NLCS, and, as noted elsewhere on the blog, Jose Uribe’s wife died in May 1988, two days after prematurely delivering a boy.

Also, here are a few other items about the ’89 A’s:
Team salary: $16.3 million

Players you might not remember as ’89 A’s: Storm Davis, Greg Cadaret, Eric Plunk, Felix Jose, Billy Beane, Ron Hassey, Glenn Hubbard, Ken Phelps

Average team age: 29.3: oldest regular Parker, 38; youngest regular McGwire, 25
Average age of pitchers: 29.8; oldest pitcher Eckersley, 34; youngest pitcher Burns, 25. The starters were 27 to 32.
Three A’s pitched more than 200 innings, including Stewart’s 257 2/3rd, Moore’s 241 2/3rd, and Welch’s 209 2/3rd innings.
Notable season streaks and stats: the A’s were 10-2 against the Indians, 9-3 against the Yankees, 9-4 against the Mariners, and 5-7 against the Red Sox, their lone losing record against a team. They were 29-18 in one-run games, 5-10 in extra-inning games, 18-8 in April, and 13-14 in June.

The A’s were only 2.5 games ahead of the Royals as late as September 20.
The A’s closed the season on a 26-14 streak, to run away with the West, after being tied for first during three straight days in mid-August. The A’s were 11-13 from the end of May to June 23, the day after Rickey’s first game, when they were 44—29, then were 46-32 on June 30 and 52-36 at the All-Star break.
The A’s were 8-1 in the ’89 playoffs. The A’s had 20 shutouts, and were shutout 5 times. They scored 10-plus runs 8 times.

Player on the ’89 A’s who you don’t remember being so good: Mike Moore. Don’t you remember Mike Moore?
Best players on the ’89 A’s (based on what they did in ’89): Rickey Henderson, Canseco, Lansford, McGwire, Mike Moore, Stewart, Eckersley, Honeycutt, Todd Burns
Tony Phillips might be the most underrated ’89 A: for his career, he scored 1300 runs, had 2023 hits and a career on-base percentage of .374.

Award voting and the 1989 A’s
Cy Young: Stewart 2nd, Moore 3rd, Eckersley tied for 6th
Manager of the Year: LaRussa 3rd
MVP: Eckersley 5th, Henderson 9th, Parker 11th, Stewart 14th, Lansford 17th, Moore 20th, McGwire tied for 25th
All-Stars: Steinbach, Stewart, Moore, McGwire, Canseco
Two of the ’89 A’s, Rickey Henderson and Dennis Eckersley, have joined the Hall of Fame, with Parker, McGwire, Canseco, Welch, and Stewart I think the only other A’s to get HOF votes. Well, Phillips got one vote in 2005.

I felt the need to interrupt the long absence of new posts on this blog because I came by a USA Today column from October 13, 1989, headlined
“Seriesly, let the earthquake begin”

It was by Tom Weir, who began, from OAKLAND:

The only local flavor still missing from this Bay Bridge World Series is an earthquake , and the Athletics and Giants just might be capable of rattling one up without Mother Earth’s help.

But the uneasy part about this commuter Series is that with all the hustling and hawking of tickets going on, the supposed “road” team still is going to have thousands of fans packed into the opposition’s stadium.

And despite California’s laid-back reputation, putting San Franciscans and Oaklanders side-by-side is as chancy as setting up Zsa Zsa for a blind date with a traffic cop.

San Francisco might be where the United Nations was founded, but the Bay Area remains a place where the cities are forever divided. . . .

The city of San Francisco began as a mission, and now the Giants are on one. But this Series could be the worst thing that ever happened to Giants owner Bob Lurie’s dream for a new stadium.

Selling voters and taxpayers on the need for a new park is going to be tough if the perfect weather from the playoffs holds. They might start calling it Tan-dlestick.

Meanwhile, if you add up the A’s 99 regular season victories, the Giants’ 92, and four for both teams in the playoffs, the combined Bay Area win total is at 199 and counting.

Saturday, somebody makes it 200.

So bring on that earthquake, Seriesly.

Uribe was, of course, one of the fan favorites on the late ’80s/early ’90s Giants. He’d changed his last name in the mid-’80s. He was Jose Gonzales in 1981, but around the time the St. Louis Cardinals traded him and three other players (pitcher Dave LaPoint and infielders David Green and Gary Rajsich) to the Giants for Jack Clark, he became Jose Uribe.

Uribe said in 1987: “There are a lot of Jose Gonzalez’s in the Dominican. The name Gonzalez down there, it’s like Smith in the United States.

“Two or three guys playing with me on the same team had the same name. All the time, someone would yell, ‘Hey, Gonzalez ‘ and everybody’s turning around.

“The other three guys played outfield. I was the only one playing shortstop. After the games, the people, they’d be shouting at me, ‘Hey, Gonzalez, you play outfield great.’ Sometimes it was, ‘Gonzalez, you play outfield lousy.’ I was always yelling, ‘I don’t play outfield, I play shortstop “‘

“I talked to my daddy and my momma and they said I could pick whatever I want. If I wanted Uribe – that’s my father’s last name – that was fine.

“I said to them, ‘I’m going to go with Uribe. It’s shorter. People will understand it better.’ But it’s funny. For the American people, it’s hard to pronounce my last name. Some people call me ‘Yer-bee,’ some people call me ‘Oh, baby”‘

The St. Petersburg Times reported that by 1987, Uribe had “become a cult figure of sorts. The Giants’ fans know how to say it. They chant it every time he comes to bat.

“For the three playoff games in Candlestick Park, three huge signs were plastered to the wall behind the top row of the upper deck in almost straightaway centerfield.


In May 1988, Uribe’s wife, Sara, died at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City two days after prematurely delivering a boy. It was her and Jose’s third child; Sara died from a heart attack linked to her pulmonary hypertension. In spring 1989, when he left the Dominican Republic for spring training in Arizona, his three children and two sisters were left behind. Uribe said: “Spring training is a time to get in shape for the season. I hope to bring my two sisters to the country to help take care of my children, and I’m confident they will be able to get their visas.”

He added: “The most important thing is to try. If you try, you can do anything. I know Roger (Craig) and Mr. (Al) Rosen and the team are behind me.”

When Jose died in the Dominican Republic early in the morning of December 8, 2006, in a car crash, he left behind a new wife, Wendy, with whom he’d had four children. Giants president Peter Magowan said: “I was very saddened to hear the news of Jose’s passing this morning. He meant so much to the Giants during his playing days. He was such an important part of the team’s success in the late 1980s. When you saw Jose on the field, he exuded happiness and pure joy for the game and life.”

Will Clark said: “He was always happy and had a smile on his face — he found a way to make you laugh. That was a great ballclub and Jose was right in the middle of it. On a baseball team, you’re only as good as the middle, and he and Robby [Thompson] were the two rocks out there.

“He had some of the best hands you’ll ever see. He’d pick the ball and make hard plays look easy, which at Candlestick Park wasn’t easy to do. As a hitter, I think the whole time he was with the Giants, he always improved in some capacity.”

When I talked with Ray Ratto about the ’89 Giants, he said of Uribe: “He and Thompson were very close, both on and off the field, and he was one of the players who didn’t need to be noticed. He was an efficient shortstop and a better than average eight-hitter, and was open enough with the media if you could speak Spanish or had an interpreter handy. He was not an effusive story-teller, though, in a room that had a lot of them, so he didn’t get as much attention as he might have.”

With the Giants again in the playoffs, and feeling like they might be ready to create the magic of a pennant-winning run once again, here’s the story of how they won the 1989 pennant. The Chronicle’s Carl Nolte described the key scene in game 5 of the NLCS vs. the Cubs like this:

In the eighth, with two out, Mike Bielecki gave up three walks in a row, and Cubs manager Don Zimmer sent for his ace of aces, Mitch Williams, to face Clark.

“Strength against strength,” Zimmer said.

Williams is a bearded, intense man they started calling “Wild Thing” in honor of the relief pitcher Charlie Sheen played in the movie “”Major League,” except he doesn’t particularly like the nickname any more.

The Candlestick sound system played Williams’ theme at full blast: “Wild Thing/You make my heart sing/You make everything /Groovy.” The 62,084 fans were on their feet, roaring.

But Clark, glowering with lamp black under his eyes to keep the glare down, thought of only one thing. “There were 62,000 fans yelling and screaming, and the only thing I’m worried about was the baseball. I couldn’t even tell you what Williams’ eyes looked like, or if he had a beard.”

Williams threw him five pitches; Clark hit the sixth, two runs scored, the Giants went ahead 3-1.


There was pandemonium at Candlestick, wild cheering and shouting nearly everywhere in the city. In the ninth, though, the Cubs nearly did it.

It was the reverse of the Giants’ big moment – two out, bases loaded. But this time, Bedrosian, the Giants reliever, got the side out.

In the clubhouse later, soaked with champagne, Clark credited others. “My teammates were great and so were Bay Area fans,” he said.

“We’ve all seen athletes rise to the occasion,” said Craig. “You saw that again today.”

It was a day so special that the two Bay Area scientists who won the Nobel Prize yesterday cut a news conference short to go to the ballgame. It was also the hottest October 9 in 55 years, Columbus Day and Yom Kippur rolled into one. “It was a beautiful ending,” said David Gonsoroski at Gino and Carlo’s bar in North Beach. “The weather cooperated for a Columbus Day win. Hurray for North Beach! Hurray for Columbus!”

When the game ended, all over the city, from the Embarcadero to Ocean Beach, cars honked their horns, firecrackers saved from the Fourth of July for this occasion went off. People gave total strangers high-fives.

The city’s joy was loud enough to hear: It was as if San Francisco itself had roared.

Before that moment, the city had been giving off a metallic hum as thousands of radios and television sets tuned into the game.


In the television department of the Emporium on Market Street, 108 television sets were on display, and most of them were tuned to the game, drawing a crowd of 150 people.

“Normally we have the TVs tuned to KQED, the educational station, because we don’t want the subject matter to absorb people,” said salesman Norman Zukowsky. “But today we had to turn on the game to avoid bloodshed.”

In the Financial District, Bill Norris, who makes his living as a panhandler, turned off his transistor radio between innings because the batteries were failing fast and the voice of Giants announcer Ron Fairly, crackling with excitement, was fading away.

“Oh, I’m a big fan,” said Norris, who came to the Bay Area from Illinois, home of the Cubs. “I’m rooting for the Giants now because I live here.” Actually, he lives in an alley off New Montgomery Street.

In other parts of the city, there was a lot of tough talk about what the Giants would do to the A’s, once the World Series starts on Saturday. It will be the first series between teams from the same region since 1956, when the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers.

About 4,000 Giants tickets will go on sale in a phone lottery today.

“I expect to see a lot of brawls in the bars and clubs,” said Aaron De Beers, who works at the Cafe Trieste in North Beach. “It will be fun.”

And here’s some excerpts from Ray Ratto’s story for the Chronicle on the Giants closing out the Cubs in five games with that afternoon game at Candlestick on October 9, 1989:

The Cubs collected 10 hits and 14 baserunners yesterday, but until the ninth inning, all they had was a single, unearned run to show for it. That came in the third, when Jerome Walton hit a line drive into the path between Mitchell’s eyes and the sun in left field for a two-base error. Mitchell was without his sunglasses at the time, but said, “They wouldn’t have done any good anyway; the sun goes right through those things. I just put my glove where I thought the ball was going to be.” Walton then scored on Ryne Sandberg’s double to right.

True to form for the series, though, even that ended badly for the Cubs. Sandberg tried to make it to third, but chopped his steps rounding second and was thrown out by a combination of throws from Pat Sheridan and Robby Thompson.

“That was a big play, no question,” Giants manager Roger Craig said later. “If he’s safe, it’s a man on third with one out, and (Mark) Grace would be coming up soon.”

Reuschel faced other tight scrapes in the [first, with Mark Grace and Jerome Walton on first and third with two out], fourth, sixth and eighth, but escaped each time because of his skill and those of the gentlemen behind him.

In the fourth, he hit Andre Dawson on the wrist with a 1-2 pitch, and Luis Salazar followed with a base hit to right that sent Dawson to third. Shawon Dunston, though, grounded sharply to Thompson, who began the Giants’ seventh double play of the series.

In the sixth, successive singles by Marvell Wynne and a ubiquitous Grace put runners at the corners with one out, but Dawson, who finished the series with two hits in 19 at-bats, flied to right and Salazar grounded gently to Thompson.

In the eighth, Reuschel walked Walton, watched as Sandberg sacrificed him to second – Sandberg’s second sacrifice of the entire season – and walked Grace intentionally with two out to get to Dawson, who bounced back to the box, his eighth failure with men in scoring position in 10 opportunities.

With all those opportunities and all those zeros, the Cubs were probably asking for what they got. And what they got, of course, was Clark.

He started the seventh with a first-pitch triple that headed down the right-field line, ticked off Dawson’s glove and nestled in the corner, enabling a moderately gimpy Clark to lumber to third. “The ball just kept tailing away from him,” Clark said of Dawson. “I was around first, and he hadn’t even gotten to the ball yet to throw it to the cutoff man, so I just kept running.”

Mitchell followed with a one-strike fly ball to deep center, scoring Clark easily and tying the game.

“It really wasn’t even a strike,” Mitchell said, “but in that situation I’m going to be aggressive. They’d been working me away all day, so I had to go out and get one.”

[In the eighth] Candy Maldonado . . . fought the temptation to try to save his entire season with a swing and coaxed 10 pitches and a two-out walk from Bielecki. Then came Butler, who also worked Bielecki to a full count before walking himself.

“I guess I was a little tired,” Bielecki acknowledged. “I wanted to get that last out and take it from there. I tried to reach back, and there was nothing there.”

At that point, Cubs manager Don Zimmer went out to talk to Bielecki and decided to let him pitch to Thompson. “He asked me how I felt, and I told him I could get him out. I missed with the first two pitches, then I just lost it.”

The four-pitch walk loaded the bases for Clark.

Zimmer called for his stopper, Mitch Williams, and everything his fastball would allow.

“I threw him all fastballs except for one,” Williams said. “At 1-2, I threw him a slider, up and in and exactly where I wanted it. It should have struck him out, but he fouled it back. That’s the best pitch I’ve got, and he fouled it off.”

The next pitch was the fastball, and Clark lined it over second base, the perfect end to a near-perfect series.

“I was talking to Mitch (Kevin Mitchell) in the on-deck circle, and he said, “You remember this guy,’ ” Clark said. “I said, “I do,’ and Mitch said, “Go get it done,’ and I said, “It’s done.’ ”

It was Clark’s third hit of the game – the team had just four – and his 13th of the postseason, in 20 at-bats. They were his seventh and eighth RBIs of the series, one short of the N.L. Championship Series record held by teammate Matt Williams. It was the hit of the season, one that Clark greatly merited as the series’ most valuable player.

But not quite the end, because the Cubs didn’t exactly go away. Steve Bedrosian, who replaced Reuschel, nearly pitched the Giants back into trouble because of successive singles by pinch-hitter Curtis Wilkerson, Mitch Webster and Walton, the last of which made it 3-2.

“My arm’s hangin’, man,” said Bedrosian, who gained his third consecutive save in his fourth consecutive appearance. “My fastball didn’t have a lot of giddy-up on it, so when Sandberg came up, I had to change up there. I’d just thrown 10 fastballs in a row, and you can’t do that.”

With the tables neatly turned and Sandberg, who had a moderately spectacular series himself, at the plate, Craig went to the mound to ask Bedrosian what he wanted to do.

“It wasn’t what he said, but the way he said it,” Craig said. “He said, “I want this guy.’ A lot of guys tell you that, but sometimes you can tell what they really want is to be the hell out of there.”

It took one pitch. Sandberg, who hit an even .400 in the series, sent a modest grounder to Thompson, who backed up a bit to make sure he got a proper hop and threw to Clark for the final out, at 2:54 p.m.

A few days ago I did an email interview with Ray Ratto of the S.F. Chronicle about his memories of the ’89 Giants as their beat reporter for the Chronicle. The full exchange is here, but I thought I’d reprint the final two questions and answers on this blog because they involve the A’s and Loma Prieta:

Q: How did the press at Candlestick handle the earthquake? What was the difference between how local media and the national/international press reacted?
A: Much of the national media fled the stadium because it thought the place would collapse or because they needed a place with power to file their stories about the event. The locals stayed longer because they knew the terrain, who to talk to, how long it would take to get reaction and information, and because more work was required of them even with the smaller papers the next day.

Q: What’s your memory of the atmosphere for games 3 and 4 at Candlestick? Watching on tv, I remember the emotion before game 3, but otherwise, as a young fan, I focused on the action. I wasn’t in mourning for the Loma Prieta victims, I just wanted to see some baseball again.
A: We all pretty much knew the series would be over quickly because the A’s were better and because they handled the post-earthquake trauma better. A number of Giants clearly had lost the will to keep playing because they weren’t used to earthquakes, because their families were freaked out, or because they all stayed in the Bay Area while the A’s went to Phoenix to get away from all the earthquake news. The series had become unimportant, and we knew it would not be competitive.