It was a dream come true for the sports fans of the Bay Area when the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants each won pennants and met in the 1989 World Series. The dream turned into a nightmare when the Loma Prieta earthquake, registering a 7.1 on the Richter scale, rocked the region just prior to Game 3, wreaking terrible damage, taking lives and causing huge human suffering.
This post will focus on the game-by-game narrative of the battle between the A’s and Giants, both of whom stepped up and contributed to their communities in the aftermath of the devastation. You can read more about the season-long paths and key players that helped each team reach this point at the links below…
The series opened in Oakland and the A’s sent their ace, Dave Stewart, to the mound to face Scott Garrelts. Oakland got on the board in the bottom of the second when Dave Henderson drew a walk, and then with one out, Terry Steinbach and Tony Phillips each singled to make it 1-0 with runners on first and third.
A groundball out scored Steinbach and moved Phillips up to second. Rickey Henderson finished the rally with a line drive single to right and a quick 3-0 lead.
The A’s went to the long ball in the third and fourth inning, when Dave Parker and Walt Weiss each hit leadoff home runs. Stewart took over from there. He threw a complete-game five-hit shutout and Oakland had a 5-0 win.
Stewart had finished second in the AL Cy Young voting, and the A’s also had the man who finished third. Mike Moore took the ball on Sunday night, facing San Francisco’s Rick Reuschel, and again Oakland jumped out early.
Rickey Henderson drew a leadoff walk to start the home half of the first, stole second and scored on a double by Lansford. In the top of the third, San Francisco finally scored their first run of the Series.
Terry Kennedy singled and then was replaced on the bases by the faster Jose Uribe after a forceout. The unintended switch worked well. Uribe went first to third on a single to left and scored on a sac fly.
In the bottom of the fourth, Oakland all but put it away. Jose Canseco walked and Parker drove him in with a double. Dave Henderson drew a walk, then Steinbach banged a three-run blast. It was 5-1 and Moore took over.
He pitched seven innings of four-hit baseball, and let Rick Honeycutt and Dennis Eckersley clean up. The series would shift across the Bay to San Francisco with the A’s firmly in command.
The national TV audience was already tuned into ABC as pregame warmups for Game 3 were being concluded. Al Michaels and Tim McCarver were on the air, when the rumbling started. TV viewers heard Michaels say “We’re having an earthquake…”, and the power went out. This was on October 17. The World Series would not resume until October 27.
When play began it was Stewart facing Garrelts again, as each team re-set its rotation. Oakland picked up where they had left off. Lansford and Canseco each singled with one out in the first, and Dave Henderson hit a two-out double that made it 2-0.
Stewart finally gave up a run in the bottom of the second, when Matt Williams homered. Oakland answered back twice in the top of the fourth, when Dave Henderson and Philips each hit solo blasts to make it 4-1. In the bottom of the inning, Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell singled and Ken Oberkfell drew a walk. With two outs, Kennedy popped a two-run single and San Francisco wasn’t going away, down 4-3.
No one could hold back the A’s offense though, and over the next two innings they put another game away. In the fifth, Rickey Henderson and Lansford worked walks and Canseco ripped a three-run blast. Dave Henderson hit the add-on, solo blast. In the top of the sixth, Lansford hit a solo shot.
It was 9-3 and stayed that way until the eighth. Oakland tacked on four more runs, while San Francisco added four of their own in the ninth after Stewart was out The final was 13-7.
Moore went again for Oakland, while San Francisco manager Roger Craig, looking for anyone who might slow the tide of the A’s offense, gave a start to Don Robinson. Nothing worked. Rickey Henderson led Game 4 off with a home run.
In the top of the second, Dave Henderson doubled, and with two outs, Weiss was intentionally walked to bring up Moore. The pitcher doubled and both runs scored. Rickey Henderson singled in Moore and it was quickly 4-zip
The game got further out of hand in the fifth when Canseco hit a one-out single and Dave Henderson walked. This was followed by a bang-bang sequence of Steinbach tripling and Phillips hitting a double. Now it was 7-0. In the sixth, another run was added on when Rickey Henderson tripled and Lansford singled him home
But on the way to oblivion, San Francisco rallied. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Will Clark singled and Kevin Mitchell homered. It set the stage for a bigger rally in the bottom of the seventh.
Kennedy started it with a walk and Greg Litton homered. Honeycutt came in out of the Oakland bullpen, but he was greeted with a Candy Maldonado triple, a double by Butler and a single from Robby Thompson. Now it 8-6, there was only one out and the two more feared hitters in the San Francisco lineup—Clark and Mitchell—were at the plate.
Honeycutt, a lefty, stayed on to face the lefty Clark and got the out. Oakland manager Tony LaRussa went to the righthander Todd Burns to face righty Mitchell. The leftfield who won the NL MVP in 1989, got a hold of one, but it ended up as a fly ball out. The World Series was effectively over. The A’s got an insurance run in the top of the eighth, while Burns and Eckersley closed the game without further incident.
Stewart was named World Series MVP. There was a good case to be made for Rickey Henderson, who went 9-for-19 with two walks, a homer and three steals and seem to be involved in almost every critical Oakland rally. But it’s tough to argue against the selection of a pitcher who averaged eight innings in two starts, only gave up a combined three runs and won half the games his team needed.
It was Oakland’s first World Series title since 1974 and their most recent. They made it back to the Fall Classic one year later, but suffered an upset loss to the Cincinnati Reds. In spite of several good teams in recent years the A’s have not won the American League pennant since.
San Francisco disappeared for a few years before winning the NL West again in 1997. The more recent years have been incredibly good to the people of San Fran, with four pennants in the 21st century, including World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014.