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Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
The San Francisco Giants haven’t played at Candlestick Park since Sept. 30, 1999.
Yet, memories linger …
For me it’s injured Ellis Valentine sauntering out of the third base dugout to the Montreal Expos bullpen, signing autographs on the way back in 1980. (The Expos flew him home the next day.)
Swirling hot dog wrappers … the Crazy Crab mascot … TVs in the football press box moving like speed bags during earthquake World Series.
For Bill Stoneman, who pitched eight seasons in the majors, then was a vice-president and GM of the Expos before running the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, has his own set: both on and off the field from his Chicago Cubs and Expos days
Stoneman made his major-league debut at Candlestick when the Cubs promoted him in 1967. He allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings striking out five, including future Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.
Four years later wearing an Expo uniform, Stoneman faced Giants ace Juan Marichal. It was scoreless entering the bottom of the ninth. Marichal had given up a double to Rusty Staub and a single to Bob Bailey. Stoneman had allowed singles to Tito Fuentes and Al Gallagher.
Stoneman retired the first out of the ninth, then Gallagher singled and Marichal doubled to left.
Fuentes then hit a singled and Stoneman walked off the mound.
On the quiet bus back to the team hotel, Stoneman sat with his roomie, Jim Britton and they talked about heading across the street from the hotel to a saloon called Tommy’s Joint. Tommy’s had a huge international beer selection, and one teammate suggested after a loss like that the two pitchers not leave after sampling a beer from every country in the world.
The bar owner tossed the keys on the table and said they were welcome to stay as long as they wanted … lock the door on the way out and drop the keys through the mail slot.
When he joined the Expos front office he traveled with the club on one west coast trip per season. Stoneman would take a few of his University of Idaho Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers living in the Bay Area area to Candlestick.
They’d get together for a day game at the Stick and head to a restaurant afterwards. Stoneman would call ahead to either Giants general manager Brian Sabean or assistant GM Ned Colletti for use of an unsold stadium suite, which Stoneman would stock with refreshments.
As an Expos-Giants game was beginning in the mid 1990s, a couple of San Francisco policeman came into the suite and accused Stoneman’s group of throwing things out of the suite and onto the crowd below.
Stoneman said it must be the people in the suite next door.
Police insisted they had the right suite.
They asked which who was responsible for the group?
“I am,” said Stoneman.
The police asked for his ID, and examined his Quebec driver’s license. The cop picked up his radio:
“Checking on wants and warrants for: Stoneman … William Hambly Stoneman, ‘Kay-bec’ driver’s license number, home address Hudson, ‘Kay-bec’” the polceman said into his radio.
There was a crackling on the radio.
Then the voice at the other end came back from the stadium precinct station:
“Wanted … wanted down in Los Angeles for auto extortion.”
The policeman then cuffed Stoneman and walked him out of the box and down the concourse.
All the time Stoneman suspected an Expo player has set up this elaborate prank. He asked the policemen to please not take him anywhere near the press box.
Then surprise, surprise …
Stoneman spotted Sabean and Colletti hiding around a corner … doubled over in laughter.
Suddenly, Stoneman could see clearly.
“Colletti had set it up,” recalled Stoneman.
Uncuffed and back in the box, the Expos GM and fraternity brothers spent the rest of the game and the whole dinner trying to come up with ways to get even with Colletti.
Whenever Colletti, accompanied the Giants on a trip to Montreal, he used an assumed name at the team hotel.
He didn’t ask for a box.
Didn’t ask for a ticket … sitting where he could not be seen from the press box.
Stoneman left at the end of the 1999 season to join the Los Angeles Angels, hired manager Mike Scioscia, the Angels won the 2002 World Series and now he’s a consultant with the Angels.
Colletti was GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2005-2014 and is now an advisor to the Dodgers president Andrew Friedman. His name was mentioned as a possible replacement to Dan Duquette in Baltimore had Edward Rogers of Rogers Communications been able to pull off the palace revolt to unseat Blue Jays president Paul Beeston and acquire Duquette.
“Colletti should not stop looking over his shoulder, it’s not too late to get even,” Stoneman said jokingly.