My job as a photographer's assistant put me in the dugout at Jack Murphy Stadium when the Padres beat the Cubs in the 1984 National League Championship Series and for Games 1 and 2 of the World Series against the Tigers. The crowds were incredibly loud, and when the NLCS returned to The Murph in 1998, San Diegans again were unusually boisterous. Greg Maddux, who was with the visiting Braves at the time, said he'd never heard so much crowd noise. I've covered a lot of postseason baseball, including a memorable Yankees-Mariners series in the Kingdome and five World Series at Yankee Stadium. San Diego's crowds in the 1984 and 1998 NLCS were as loud as any I heard. Part of it was size. The Murph was expanded for football by 1998. The increased capacity and more circular acoustics added to the din.
Sunday's Chargers game at The Murph took me back to those days. Without any prompting from "game entertainment" puppeteers, the crowd went bananas in the third quarter. The Murph was as loud as it was in 1984 or 1998 -- maybe louder. "That's the loudest crowd I've ever heard," Chargers coach Norv Turner told me afterward. The Bengals probably would agree. Their offense fell apart, drawing two flags for delay of game penalties and another for illegal substitution. "Golly, it was unreal," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers told me today.
Petco Park is a gem. The Murph, though, is still a special place. I'd like to see the Padres play a game or two in The Murph every year. Slash prices for concessions, give away Tony Gwynn throwback jerseys and fill the place up with 60,000. Maybe it's not practical. But I think the strategic thinkers would be impressed by how loud San Diegans can be.