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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Day the World Series Stopped Opens in San Francisco Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 9:46 AM

click to enlarge world-series1.jpg
The earth doesn’t shake every time the Giants make it to the World Series, but it did in 1989. October 17, 1989, at 5:04 p.m. to be precise; and documentary filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis has the story.

The Day the World Series Stopped is Leonoudakis’ first-hand account, with video and still images shot  during and after the interrupted Game 3 of the 1989 World Series at Candlestick Park. The film makes its world premiere tonight at San Francisco Main Library, with another screening in Atherton on the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Opening with a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, Leonoudakis segues quickly to the topic of baseball, to the Giants’ heart-breaking loss to the Yankees in the 1962 World Series, and within all of 79 seconds we to get to the earthquake. Leonoudakis was sitting down left field line, in Candlestick’s Section 18, Row N, seat 3 with his brother, Tim. The brothers appear on camera in the film.

The Day the World Series Stopped is somber where it should be, light and even uplifting the rest of the way. Present are the iconic images you’d expect to see – the Bay Bridge, Highway 880, shattered glass and totaled cars, broken clocks frozen at exactly 5:04 p.m. – and the filmmaker’s video time stamp reading “Oct. 17, 1989,” which hovers in the lower left-hand corner of the frame during much of the documentary.

When asked what motivated him to make the film, Leonoudakis said, “I believe oral histories are important to our culture and history. Documentaries that present an eyewitness perspective, versus an omniscient presence, put you on the scene, feeling that tension, those emotions, creating a visceral experience…I also wanted people to know how bad this earthquake was; the scope and magnitude, and what it did to the city and the Bay Area, and how the people responded.”

He goes on to talk about the toll the work has taken on him emotionally.

“I’ve literally lost sleep and had to stop editing a few times, being overwhelmed by the images and stories of death and destruction in my beloved city. I made it my business to understand how every one of those 63 people died.

“The two deaths that stayed with me occurred in the Marina District at 2 Cervantes. A three-month old boy, Scott Dickinson, was in his mother’s arms when their stairway collapsed during the quake. He suffocated from inhaling dust and his mother lived. Another couple in their forties in the same building were found in each other’s arms.

“I have a great memory, but there were huge chunks of the experience I can’t recall, and I realized this year it was because I’d never been that frightened before.”

Though he lives in Dodger territory now (Northridge, scene of another major quake he just happened to experience in 1994) and there is reference to “The Los Angeles Dingbats” in the film, Leonoudakis is a San Francisco native and lifelong Giants fan. He lived on Ulloa St. near West Portal as a child, walked to grade school at St. Brendan’s a half-block away, and “had special permission to walk home for lunch, which came in handy when the World Series was played during the day in the 1960s.”

As a teenager Leonoudakis worked for his family’s parking concession – known today as CityPark – waving cars into lots at The Stick. His love for the team and for his hometown are evident throughout The Day the World Series Stopped, which really is his ode to San Francisco. 

After the quake, San Francisco got back to life eventually, and the 1989 World Series continued (as Leonoudakis puts it, “finally, a baseball game broke out.”) with the Oakland Athletics triumphing over the Giants, four games to none. The Bay Area healed to the extent possible.

Some things were rebuilt as before, others replaced entirely and for good reason. The San Francisco Giants baseball club built a new stadium, now known as AT&T Park, which has been the scene of two World Series victories for the home team – so far – in 2010 and 2012. The earth didn’t shake either time.

The Day the World Series Stopped screens tonight at 6 p.m. at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St., S.F. and on Oct. 17 at 6 pm. at Atherton Library, 2 Dinkelspiel Station Lane, also at 6:00 p.m. See the film’s website for additional screenings

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook

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About The Author

Howard Cole

Bio:
Howard Cole is an L.A.-based baseball writer, born in what is now the Scientology Building on Sunset Blvd., a Pence's throw from Dodger Stadium. He's also the founding director of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA).

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