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ESPN wants your 1989 earthquake memories

Minutes before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s at Candlestick Park, the ground shook.

Most people, even here in earthquake country, had felt nothing like it before.

The 15 seconds of fury unleashed waves of destruction not seen in Northern California since 1906. 63 people lost their lives in the magnitude 6.9 temblor, and billions of dollars were spent rebuilding and recovering from the worst California earthquake in generations.

As the 25-year anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake approaches, producers from ESPN are seeking your 1989 memories as part of The Day the Series Stopped, a 30 for 30 special to air later this year.

If you were in the stands for Game 3 — or if you want to share your stories, memories, photographs, video or other memorabilia from 1989 — reach out via e-mail or on the web at

Myself, I was a 18-year-old SF State college student forcing myself through a three-hour psychology class when the earthquake struck.

1989 was a time without cellphones, without digital cameras, without the immediacy of the Internet and social media.

Burk Hall was the last place I wanted to be that Tuesday evening; I expected to rush home and catch the last innings of the unprecedented Bay Bridge World Series on television.

Instead, I heard an ominous rumble approach from behind me, well before we actually felt any shaking. There was no weather or thunder to speak of on this clear afternoon; this sound emanated from the earth itself.

As the rumble built to a dull roar, the shaking began. My one-piece student desk and chair bounced wildly along with the others in the room. It was impossible to walk, impossible to do much of anything.

I remember drawing my limbs into my body and forcing myself into what I perceived would be the protective cage of the flimsy metal desk. The building undulated so aggressively that I looked down at the floor, sure it would soon crack open and swallow me whole.

And then, quicker than it began, the shaking stopped. The two dozen or so students in the class recollected themselves as our professor calmly explained that “since we all seem to be fine,” that we can go on with class.

Not long after, someone came into our classroom and — erroneously — told us the campus was “on fire” and we needed to leave.

The campus wasn’t burning, but parts of The City were, a fact revealed to me on my drive back to the Mission from the SF State campus.

After arriving home and learning my parents and girlfriend (now wife) were safe, I spent the remaining daylight hours helping direct traffic on Market Street.

When night fell, we ventured up to the Twin Peaks lookout. What we saw was a portrait of a wounded city; large patches of skyline were completely darkened, while only one strand of Bay Bridge lights — just half of one side of the western span — remained lit.

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