Thursday, October 15, 2009

1989 World Series and Earthquake

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the all-Bay Area World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's, and the major earthquake that struck the Bay Area just minutes before game 3 at Candlestick Park. I was there. The World Series was more than major news here, and the earthquake caused much death and damage.

I'll be taking several posts to tell the story as I lived it.

The A's beat the Blue Jays in the ALCS, while the Giants took care of the Cubs in the NLCS. Ticket sales were simply unbelievable. Tens of thousands of tickets went on sale through a major ticket agency, and were sold out within a matter of hours. Approximately ten million calls were placed in a frantic attempt to buy tickets, jamming phone circuits. But this was no problem at all for me and some friends.

I already had Series tickets for the games in San Francisco, as I was a season ticket holder. But I pulled a major coup in accidentally discovering a back door into the ticket agency's phone system from trying to buy concert tickets months previously. The ticket agency was given a block of about a hundred phone numbers - in consecutive numerical order - by the phone company. A call to the main number, if busy, was rolled over to the next number, and so on. You received a busy signal only if all hundred lines were busy. I figured out that if I dialed a number up at the higher end of numbers, I could get in fairly easy, as higher numbers waited a fraction of a second for all the previous numbers to roll over. A direct dial on a higher number usually resulted in a connection.

So, out of the millions of phone calls made, a small five employee architecture firm was able to buy 2 percent of all tickets sold within a two hour period. I first bought my A's tickets, giving me tickets for all seven games. Other people in the office bought all their own personal tickets. We prepped for this coup by getting credit cards from friends, family, and everybody on our company softball team. We closed the office and made purchases until we ran out of friends' credit cards. We were swimming in tickets, and all of our friends were ecstatic at getting seats for the Series. Life was beautiful in October, 1989.

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