Willie Mays had a simple formula for coping with the swirling winds that tormented fielders and tortured fans at Candlestick Park.
"Take two steps in and five steps back, and get the ball," he explained.
Not many outfielders fared as well as Mays at Candlestick -- now 3-Com Park -- which plays host to its final major league baseball game this afternoon when the Giants face the Dodgers.
The Giants move to $319 million Pacific Bell Park in downtown San Francisco next season, leaving Candlestick to the NFL's 49ers. Few pitchers will miss a park in which shallow flies often blew over the wall for homers. Neither will many fans, who came to August games in ski jackets and gloves.
"I won't miss the place," Giants senior vice president Pat Gallagher said. "We had a lot of meetings to think about what we wanted to take from Candlestick to the new park, and we couldn't think of a thing."
Candlestick opened on April 12, 1960, with Vice President Richard Nixon and Hall of Famer Ty Cobb presiding over the opening ceremony. From the start, Candlestick was known for its lousy weather. In the early 1980s, spectators were awarded "Croix de Candlestick" pins for staying until the end of extra-inning night games.
Candlestick was home to Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Mays, who hit 203 homers there despite the gusts blowing in from left field. Pete Rose had the most hits there, 201, among opposing players.
NEN FACES SURGERY: Giants closer Robb Nen is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Oct. 7 to repair a partial tear in a tendon, as well as a bone spur. Nen is 3-8 with 37 saves and a 3.98 ERA.
ANKIEL TROUBLE: The father of Cardinals rookie P Rick Ankiel pleaded not guilty yesterday in West Palm Beach, Fla., to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and cocaine. Federal charges were filed Sept. 22 against Richard Ankiel, 42, and three others.