Jeff Jardine: Modesto woman, best friend will see Paul McCartney at Candlestick Park one last time

08/11/2014 5:02 PM

08/11/2014 8:37 PM

Kathy Riggs was there when The Beatles played their last official concert at Candlestick Park on Aug. 29, 1966.

“One of the screaming teens,” the Modesto resident said.

Riggs and friend Linda Breslauer lived in Hollister at the time, 13 years old and head-over-heels in love with John, Paul, George and Ringo.

They grew up, got married, raised their respective families and remain the best of friends to this day. But their Beatles infatuation hasn’t changed one bit. Riggs dedicated an entire room in her home to The Beatles, with posters and memorabilia adorning the walls.

Thursday, they will attend Paul McCartney’s concert together at Candlestick, the last event before the 54-year-old stadium closes, its seats and other memorabilia are auctioned off and the cold concrete edifice is demolished. McCartney no doubt will play some of The Beatles’ songs. Riggs always liked him best among the Fab Four. Still does.

“He’s the love of your life, right after your husband,” Breslauer teases.

They can’t recall how they got their tickets back in 1966, which might have come through a promotion by radio station KYA.

Breslauer’s grandfather, father and brother drove the girls from Hollister to San Francisco, and the giddy girls saw others on Highway 101 also heading to the concert and holding signs that read “Beatles or bust!” and the like.

“They dropped us off in the parking lot,” Breslauer said. The men waited outside, peering in through the chain-link fence outside right field, and could see the stage assembled just behind second base. (Remember, Candlestick wasn’t enclosed with an upper deck until 1971, and the field was visible from the parking lot behind the outfield.)

“Her grandfather was totally disgusted with us,” Riggs said. “He must have been thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’ ”

Candlestick seated 42,000 for baseball, yet the concert drew only about 25,000 fans, who paid $4.50 to $6.50 per ticket. Riggs and Breslauer sat in Section 11, Row 1, seats 11 and 12.

On May 1, when Breslauer spent two hours online trying to secure tickets for Thursday’s McCartney gig, they cost her $188 each, including taxes and fees. And she couldn’t get all six together – only three sets of pairs in different sections of the ballpark.

Back to 1966, screaming teen girls dominated the landscape. There were warm-up acts – The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes – though Riggs and Breslauer barely remember any of them. Riggs remembers The Beatles running out carrying their guitars (which photos confirm), and then plugging into the amps on stage. As they did at their other tour stops that year, The Beatles played 11 songs in a show lasting about 40 minutes.

“I remembered when they played ‘Yesterday,’ ” Breslauer said. “It brought us to tears. There was a boy behind us with his mom, and the kid said, ‘Mom, they’re crying!’ But it’s ‘Yesterday.’ ”

They stopped for dinner somewhere on the way home, the women recall. Grasping for any memento of the evening, Breslauer kept a pack of soda crackers from the restaurant. She kept the nylon hose riddled with runs. And she kept them for decades before finally throwing them away. They both kept their ticket stubs.

This time, Riggs’ daughter and some friends will join them. It will be the eighth time Riggs will have seen McCartney perform, the 1966 concert included. Sir Paul’s shows have been known to last three hours, Riggs said. And consider it wishful thinking, but Riggs hopes Ringo Starr, the other remaining Beatle, will join him for a song or two.

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” she said.

But wait, there’s more. Riggs read that filmmaker Ron Howard and White Horse Pictures are researching for a documentary on The Beatles’ touring years. Film officials are looking for folks who not only attended the 1966 Candlestick concert but also plan to attend Thursday’s McCartney show and bring along family and friends.

“That’s us,” Riggs said. So she and Breslauer contacted a company representative, and they will be interviewed at Candlestick before the concert. The documentary is scheduled for release in 2015.

“I asked if there was any chance we’d get to go back and meet Sir Paul,” Riggs said. “She (company rep Melissa Goodwin) said she didn’t think that was going to happen. Oh, well ...”

That would be nice. But mostly, two friends will see him at Candlestick one last time. They’re no longer teenagers, but they can still scream with the best of them.

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