For more than three decades, Joe Seamas of Manteca worshipped his idols at Candlestick Park in the City by the Bay.
That’s 34 years to be exact. During that time, he never missed a Niners game at the ‘Stick. And he is mighty proud of that. But he’s also sad at the same time. He will never see his favorite football team play at the iconic stadium anymore.
While he is saying goodbye to 34 years of cheering and rooting for his sports idols in San Francisco, he is at the same time saying, “thanks for the memories!”
The impending demise of Candlestick does not mean he is bidding farewell to his favorite football team. Loyal to the core, Seamas will simply follow his favorite players to their new digs in the Silicon Valley.
“Yes, I will miss Candlestick. It was a unique stadium. There’s never going to be another Candlestick Park,” he said with unmistakable nostalgia in his voice.
But, he added astutely, “the new Levi’s Stadium (for the Niners in Santa Clara) will offer a lot more technology-wise. It’s going to be a nice stadium.”
More than three decades is more than enough time to accumulate memories that will last even long after the last grain of dust from the dismantled Candlestick stadium has vanished into the nearby great Pacific, as far as Seamas is concerned. Some of those fond memories were captured in photographs worthy of a Kodak moment; others have been stored as lifetime captives in his heart and seared in his memory.
Stick is where daughter
learned to cuss both
in English & Portuguese
“That’s where Angela (his daughter with wife, Veronica) learned how to cuss in Portuguese and English,” the diehard Niners fan and 16-year insurance representative for the Portuguese Fraternal Society of America said with a hearty guffaw.
Angela, who is the granddaughter of the late Manteca mayor William “Bill” Perry, is currently the president of the California State Youth Portuguese Fraternal Society of America.
There was also the time he met three Catholic nuns who were seated in the seats in front of him. The seats belonged to three diehard Niners fans – “they were three old people, really nice people” – who, like Seamas, held season tickets to the games. Through the years, they became fast friends.
On this particular game, Seamas’ friends could not make it to Candlestick. So they offered the tickets to their friends, the three nuns.
Once Seamas was seated, the nuns turned around and spoke to him like he was an old friend. “Oh, you must be Joe!”
“Uh, oh. I better be nice; I’ll be good,” Seamas, who felt he was at a disadvantage, thought to himself. He soon learned that his friends, the season holders, have talked about him to the nuns.
At the end of the game, a laughing Seamas said he found himself promising the nuns he will be praying the rosary not once but three times and reciting his Hail Marys.
One of his most unforgettable experience at the games happened when Angela was just a baby, Seamas recalled with mirth in his voice.
“We got to meet Steve Young!”
Of course, that moment has been immortalized in a color photograph with the Niners’ former quarterback who succeeded Joe Montana.
“There’s a lot of memories there – with my wife, my daughter, and my dad,” Seamas said with a heavy but happy sigh. His father was Joe, Sr., who was a familiar sight for many years around the central Manteca. He used to take walks around town, pulling his oxygen tank, a plastic bag in hand where he placed the recyclable soda cans that he found along the side of the street. He would bring these recyclables home to add to his growing collection. Later, he sold them at the recycling center and donated all the money to various charitable causes in town including the Boys and Girls Club.
Seamas also remembers with fondness “The Catch” in January of 1982. It was the Joe Montana pass to Dwight Clark which sent the 49ers to the Super Bowl on their way to the first of five NFL championships.
He’ll be taking ACE
to Niners’ new digs
One memory that’s tinged with tragedy concerns the other tenant of Candlestick Park. Seamas remembers still very vividly the deadly Loma Prieta earthquake during the 1989 baseball World Series. The powerful earthquake did not hurt a soul at Candlestick but it killed more than 60 people around the Bay Area, he recalled. The devastation caused a 10-day delay in the World Series games.
Seamas started going to Candlestick in 1980 when he graduated from Manteca High. The second year of his annual trek to San Francisco’s stadium, he started working for the Manteca Bulletin. Soon after that, he started buying season tickets.
“I bought season tickets so that my dad and I had something to do,” he said.
While he will be missing the drive to San Francisco, he will be just as happy going to Santa Clara to watch his idols play at the Levi Stadium. This time, he will be taking the ACE Train from Manteca which, fortunately, will deposit him and his other loyal friends right in the back of the new stadium.
“I won’t have to worry about driving. It will be party all the way” in the ACE train, he laughed. He goes to the games with a group of about 15 to 20 of his close friends, “most of the time, with family.”
“I’m looking forward to the new stadium. They (the Niners pro athletes) were like family for us,” Seamas said.
He is also be looking forward to the tailgate parties before the games.
Loyalty has its own great rewards. Even after Candlestick Park will be long gone and banished to physical oblivion, Seamas will forever have something concrete to hold on to – the stadium seat where he sat all those years which he will be able to bring home.