Friday, August 30, 2013

Candlestick Park Memories with Steve Wilson and Jose Rijo

It's the summer of 1990, and Giants are a year removed from their World Series appearance with the Oakland A's. We're home for the summer after another year of higher education, and like most kids home for the summer, we attended a few games at the 'Stick. Back then, we opted for the cheap general admission seats beyond the left field wall. This is before they added the portable aluminum bleachers. It was the place where the visiting bullpen was located. If you got there early and grabbed a front row seat, you were within a few feet from the bullpen bench where the players sat.

So two memorable things happened that summer that involved Steve Wilson, then with the Cubs, and Jose Rijo, then with the Reds. During that time we would indulge in a little smokeless tobacco, aka dip,  and so did Wilson and Rijo. During one Giants v. Cubs game, while seated in the front row, we asked to bum a dip from Wilson. He obliged and handed us a tin of Hawken. Hawken was unlike Skoal or Copenhagen, the dip itself was like little nuggets not the fine cut stuff that Skoal or Cope made, and it had a sweet tang taste to it too. In any event, after bumming a dip, we asked Wilson if we could keep the tin since ballplayers back in the day had an endless supply of chew/dip. To our surprise, Wilson said sure and let us keep the tin. Our second encounter involved Rijo who was then a starting pitcher for the Reds. During the Reds batting practice, Rijo was running from foul pole to foul pole on the warning track, and as he approached the left field pole, we asked if we could bum a dip from him too! He reached in his back pocket and tossed us a tin of Hawken. After taking a dip, we were prepared to toss it back to him but he said, "keep it."

Needless to say, this would NEVER happen today. First, tobacco companies no longer supply chew/dip openly to players for free. The teams have to purchase it on their own and keep it out of sight in the dugout (i.e. don't show it on TV). Second, players would probably be scared to hand a tin to someone still in their teens. As Candlestick Park enters it's last season, this is one of the memories we will remember of the old 'Stick.

Jose Rijo - Reds

Steve Wilson - Cubs

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