Opening Day, with Car 1!

In a welcome surprise, Muni Operations assigned its flagship streetcar, vintage 1912 Car 1, to regular E-line service today, the first time that has happened since the E-line opened for seven-day service two years ago.

It caught our usual coterie of fan-photographers off-guard, but we managed to catch a shot of it, above, pulling in to Muni Metro East at the end of the day.

The special appearance was probably because of the Giants’ home opener at AT&T Park on the E-line. The team is celebrating its 60th year in San Francisco. When the Giants arrived in 1958, Car 1 had already been retired from its first operating life for seven years and was sitting on a dark pier, its motors removed, marked for static display in a museum that never came to pass.

But Car 1 got a second life in 1962 when it was restored by Muni craftsworkers to commemorate Muni’s 50th anniversary. (That of course was the year that the Giants WOULDA won the World Series IF ONLY Willie McCovey had hit that line drive a foot higher or to the right of Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson in the ninth inning of Game 7 at Candlestick, but we digress.)

Today, as for the past two seasons, E-line cars like 1011 (above) carried lots of happy fans between Fisherman’s Wharf and the game. It and other Muni streetcars on the E-and F-lines carried special Giants’ 60th Anniversary flags today, supplied by our generous volunteer James Giraudo and installed at 2 a.m. by the dedicated Joe Hickey, who oversees our flag program. Like the rest of us, Joe didn’t know Car 1 was going into service, so it didn’t have the flags on it, but it hit a home run anyway. (So did two Giants, Joe Panik and Evan Longoria, but the home team lost anyway, 6-4 to Seattle.)

By the way, the Giants flags also appropriately appeared on Powell Cable Car 24, which is dedicated to the greatest Giant, Willie Mays. Val Lupiz did a dandy job decorating Car 24 with help from James Giraudo, Jeremy Whiteman, and Frank Zepeda!

Discussion at the ball park today centered around some major league “firsts” set over the weekend, which got us to wondering whether this was the first time in its 105-year life that Car 1 had carried fans to a baseball opening day. The answer? Probably.

In 1914, the San Francisco Seals moved to a brand new ball park, Ewing Field, on Masonic Avenue. Muni built a spur track from Geary Street along Masonic to serve the new ball park, and assigned some runs of the A-line to Ewing on game days. No run assignments survive from those days, but Car 1 was based at Geary Division, just three blocks away, in 1914, so it’s at least a possibility it served Ewing Field for that year’s opening game (which the Seals lost to Oakland, 3-0). The photo below shows a Muni streetcar of Car 1’s type (possibly Car 1 itself) on the A-line at the Ferry Building with a “Ball Park” designation on the dash. The “1915” on the Ferry Building tower signifies the upcoming Panama-Pacific International Exposition, but the photo was taken during the 1914 baseball season, and the “ball park” reference is to Ewing Field.

Ewing Field was a disaster for baseball, even foggier and windier than Candlestick was in later decades, so the Seals moved back to Recreation Park at 15th and Valencia Streets in 1915 (served by United Railroads/Market Street Railway streetcar lines, but not Muni lines). Muni’s investment in the Masonic Avenue spur turned out to be largely a waste, as it was never again used in revenue service and largely torn out by the late 1930s.

The Seals stayed at Recreation Park until 1931 when they moved to a new Seals Stadium at 16th and Bryant. Market Street Railway streetcars on the 22 and 25 lines served Seals Stadium directly, while Muni’s H-Potrero line was a block east. Car 1 operated on the H-line in the late 1910s and early 1920s out of Potrero Division, but it was back at Geary Division and usually assigned to the F-Stockton, D-Van Ness, or C-Geary-California, so it probably never made a Seals Stadium opening day. (The Giants played their first two seasons at Seals Stadium while Candlestick Park was being built. Millions of fans over Candlestick’s 40 year history as the home of the Giants took Muni diesel buses to the games.)

Market Street Railway is proud to count the San Francisco Giants as one of our business supporters. Play ball! Go Giants!