Memories of the Catch
To say that our family is 100 percent a family of San Francisco fans is a huge understatement. We had 49ers season tickets for more than 35 years. Each year when the tickets arrived in the mail, my husband, Joe Guth, and I would sit down with the four kids, and a negotiation meeting would take place to decide who would get the tickets for which of the scheduled home games.
Joe would start the negotiations by saying, “The tickets to the game with the Green Bay Packers are mine.” The Packers and Niners were archrivals then. Then our four children would have their chance to claim one set of the two season tickets.
It was the 1980-81 season when the young quarterback Joe Montana began to lead the Niners to top contender status, backed by what was becoming an almost unbeatable team. On January 19, 1982, the Niners were facing the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game. As always with the Cowboys, it was a challenging battle, and as it neared the final minutes, the collective spirit of the fan-packed Candlestick Park was beginning to sink audibly. With 58 seconds left in the game and the Cowboys leading 28-27, Joe said to me, “I can’t stand it. Let’s go.”
We left our seats and entered the corridors to leave but could still hear the announcer over the loudspeakers. It was obvious that excitement was beginning to rise from the sound of his voice, and from the background noise of the crowd.
Joe took my arm and pulled me back through the entrance to the stands, and as we arrived at the fence to the field, we saw it — “The Catch!” The 23-yard throw from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark, that gave the 49ers a touchdown and put them ahead of the Cowboys AND sent them to their first of four Super Bowls! Candlestick Park exploded in joyful pandemonium.
On the way out of Candlestick on the bus ride back to San Francisco, we, and every other fan, had their transistor radios on, replaying those final seconds of the game, reliving that magical final moment over and over again.
The next day the San Francisco Chronicle printed a full-page photo of Dwight Clark’s quantum leap into the air, catching Montana’s 23-yard throw to score that winning touchdown.
Joe had that newspaper photo professionally framed, and today it hangs proudly in our son John’s home office, alongside the football signed by Dwight Clark, with whom John had the privilege of speaking personally.
Since Sunday, October 21, 2018, there now stands in Levi’s Stadium a statue of “The Catch,” showing Dwight Clark soaring skyward again for his fingertip catch and, 23 yards away, Montana raising two hands in triumph.
I can’t wait to get to Levi’s Stadium to see it, and, once again glory in that unforgettable moment shared with Joe.