This Day In Sports: One drought ends – another continues

October 9, 1989: The San Francisco Giants win their first pennant in 27 years, ending Chicago’s latest World Series dream. The Giants beat the Cubs 3-2 at Candlestick Park to take the National League Championship Series, four games to one. Will Clark hit .650 in the NLCS to win MVP honors, and he was key in the finale against the Cubs. With the Giants trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Chicago starter Mike Bielicki got the first two outs but suddenly walked the bases loaded. The Cubs brought in Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams to face Clark, who ripped a dramatic two-run single up the middle to give the Giants a 3-1 lead.

Then came the top of the ninth, with the Giants relying on veteran closer Steve Bedrosian to finish it off. Bedrosian retired the first two batters, and 62,000 fans roared in anticipation. Then the Cubs strung together three straight singles and narrowed the gap to 3-2. With the tying and winning runs on base, future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg came to the plate. But Sandberg hit a weak grounder to second baseman Robby Thompson, who threw to Clark to end it.

It turned out to be the last game the Giants would win that year. They advanced to a dream scenario: a Bay Bridge Series against the Oakland A’s. There, the Giants would be swept by the A’s in four games—with the first two games and the last two games separated by 12 days due to the Loma Preita earthquake. The quake occurred just before Game 3 was to start at Candlestick Park, and there were two postponements before the Series finally resumed.

The Giants had moved to San Francisco from New York in 1958, and despite being one of the National League’s dominant teams of the 1960s, they had been to the World Series only once in California, in 1962 (losing to the New York Yankees in seven games). They would have to wait another 21 years after the 1989 Series to get there again. It was in 2010 that San Francisco broke through in a big way. They captured the NL pennant in three of the next five years, winning the World Series each time under manager Bruce Bochy.

The Cubs at that point hadn’t been to the Series in 44 years as the “Curse of the Billy Goat” continued to hang over their heads. And the drought would stretch to 71 before they won the 2016 National League pennant. That year, of course, they’d go on to beat Cleveland in seven games to win their first World Series since 1908.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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