By Daniel Brown | email@example.com | Bay Area News Group
SAN FRANCISCO — This is one road Joe Montana doesn’t want to go alone.
At a ceremony to announce that some new San Francisco streets will be named after sports stars, the Hall of Fame quarterback politely rejected a sign that said: “Joe Montana Drive.”
The 49ers star respectfully asked for it be rechristened “Montana-Clark Drive” as a nod to his longtime friend Dwight Clark, the recipient of the most famous pass he’s ever thrown.
Montana was serious about the name-change but later quipped: “When his name goes up on here, they could lower the speed limit. Because we know Dwight wasn’t very fast.”
Clark laughed from the front row during the star-studded private event at City Hall on Sunday.
Montana said that Clark’s recent announcement about being diagnosed with ALS had little to do with wanting to share his street name. Instead, the quarterback said, he did so at the urging of his wife, Jennifer.
“She has a great feel and a great sense for these things,” he said. “She’s been through my life and through my career. .. and she knows Dwight was a special guy for me from Day One.”
Now, Montana and Clark will forever be linked at the site of their former glory. San Francisco officials and representatives from the FivePoint real estate development held this ceremony to dedicate the neighborhood being built where Candlestick Park once stood.
As a salute to the people who put that place on the map, the streets will be named after notable Bay Area stars
In a way, every street is a version of memory lane.
There will be a Jerry Rice Road that connects to Edward J. DeBartolo Way. Then again, Rice cracked that wanted to be part of his old quarterback’s revision.
“Why can’t it be ‘Montana and Clark and Rice,”’ he said. “Come on, Joe, give me some love, too baby!”
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana speaks to reporters Sunday at a news conference about plans for the site formerly occupied by Candlestick Park. (Daniel Brown/Bay Area News Group)
Around the corner from Rice’s route, you can diagram plays in the dirt off Bill Walsh Street.
A few blocks away from there, you can take an intentional walk down Barry Bonds Lane. There will also be an Orlando Cepeda Lane named after the player who belted 379 long drives during his major league career.
Willie McCovey, who hit 521 career home runs, gets an entire park, which seems fitting. On hand to accept the honor in person, McCovey recalled how fond he was of the Giants’ blustery old yard.
“I enjoyed playing at Candlestick. I was one of the few players who enjoyed playing there,” the three-time home run champion said. “I will cherish this honor for the rest of my life.”
Willie Mays will get a park, too, as well as a “Willie Mays Way.” There will also be lanes named after Juan Marichal and Ronnie Lott.
Carmen Policy, the former 49ers executive, joked about also having his name associated with such select company.
“I always figured if I got something named after me, it would be a ‘Carmen Policy Alley,’ where you would put your garbage so it couldn’t be seen from the main streets,” he said. “So to have it actually say ‘avenue’ is pretty special.”
Montana and Clark, though, stole the show.
Clark, who has remained out of the public eye after announcing last month he has been diagnosed with ALS, stood in front of a proposed mural of “The Catch,” by Cameron Moberg, that will also be incorporated into the new neighborhood. Clark recalled Sunday how Montana kept messing up the famous play during the dress rehearsals.
“In practice, Joe could never get it right. He kept throwing it over my head or throwing it too low,” Clark said. “Then, in the game, with the Super Bowl on the line, with two people in front of him, he on his back foot and puts it in the perfect spot that it has to be.”
“And when I tell that story,” Clark continued, “Joe says, ‘Well, maybe it should be called ‘The Throw.’”
Five Point Holdings, which is spearheading the redevelopment project, plans to reinvent the old Candlestick grounds with an “urban retail outlet center” as part of a joint venture with Macerich.
Five Point’s press release also states that plans are underway for more than 7,000 homes, along with neighborhood shops, restaurants, a film and arts center, a hotel, community serves and more than 100 acres of parks and open space.
In a simpler era, it was a place to enjoy hot dog and a ballgame. The Giants played at Candlestick Park from 1960-99. The 49ers called it home from 1971-2013.
Now, those players will live on as a reminder of the road to success.
“I’m usually never at a loss for words,” DeBartolo said. “But I’m blown away. This honor will live with me forever.”