As batted balls would be caught or fielded by the outfielders, if you were lucky and asked nicely, they’d toss the balls over the fence. We managed to get two baseballs this way, one by me and one off a tip and a bounce, fielded by my son. And again, if you asked nicely and didn’t interrupt the guys who were talking, they’d sign everything. They signed the baseball for my son, as well as his hat. What was curious to me was that the beach area wasn’t packed with people. Maybe 20 or so people, so there wasn’t a crowd issue and the odds of getting a baseball was exponentially higher than other places.
Baseball #3 came as a result of another toss-over. Last year, we wrangled two baseballs during two BP sessions, but here we were, halfway through one BP session and we already had three! Last year, there were a bunch of batted balls hit into the beach area and lemme tell ya, they make a sound when they’re hit that far. You can hear the seams whistling. This year, we saw only about two balls hit out. I guess the D’Backs weren’t showcasing their power.
However, towards the end of the BP session, I was standing on the first row/terrace of seats, tracking the baseballs. One is hit, far, but clearly not going to make it out, but right at me. I yell out to no one in particular “watch the bounce!” Lo and behold, it hits right before the warning track and one-hops the fence, right into my hand. Baseball #4 was secure! A fellow ball-hawk walks by and asks me, “how many did you guys get today?“. When I replied, he smiled and said “You’re my hero.” Just in the right spots and asking the players nicely. Note: Cute kids and/or a pretty wife make good “bait”. The sandbox section is to right, as seen from my seats. I caught the ball on that first row of seats, right at the end of the row as you can see near those garbage cans.
With BP complete, we set out to explore a bit more of the park. Having been to Petco Park before, we knew that there was a small field where they usually pitch wiffleballs to the kids. As you can see from the picture to the right, the field is right behind the main stadium, right next to the Randy Jones BBQ (try the brisket). My boys took two turns at the plate and as usual, had a ton of fun running the bases. Once the baserunning was complete, the boys got their requisite hotdogs from the Randy Jones BBQ, but these are not your usual hotdogs. These are one-pound, footlong monsters. Nicely well-done and grilled, but as salty as anything you’ll ever eat. Salt would have been less salty. The boys got through nearly half of each before surrendering.
As you might imagine, San Diego is Tony Gwynn’s house. And how better to show it than have a massive statue of Gwynn, as you can see to the right. As statues go, this is a good one. It does a nice job to capture his likeness as well as his trademark sweet lefty swing. To give you an idea how big this is, the top of the concrete base is about 5’8″ or so. It stands just beyond right centerfield (of the little field above), up on a hill. The hill was occupied by spectators on blankets.
Clearly not the same feel as Yankee Stadium.
Our seats were in the 2nd deck in right center, an amazing vantagepoint made better by the $18 pricetag. The usher in our section (#231) was a gentleman by the name of Stephen, who could not have been nicer. Our group expanded to eight by the time my brother and my nephew arrived and we took many more seats than we paid for (only about 21k in attendance). Stephen even offered to snap pictures of our family, something I don’t think they are trained to do in Yankee Stadium. Then again, our section was sparsely populated so maybe he was just keeping busy. The picture to the right shows the hallmark Western Metal Supply Co. building, with the leftfield foulpole as part of the building (to the far left of the picture). Great touch by the design team, if you ask me.
The game started with a bang as Stephen Drew hit a replay-reviewed home run, my first in-attendance instant replay review. Took no time and they got the call right. Hmmm, I think this might work elsewhere, if done properly. We couldn’t see the ball leave the park as it was essentially below us, but that made little difference. As I mentioned, the vantage point was great, with the park open in front of us. The rest of the game was fun, with lots of home runs and offense. The game was secondary as having the family hanging out together was the point of the night. As the sun set beautifully over the park, the temps dropped to a balmy 70 degrees or so. Have I mentioned that I really like the San Diego weather?
As if getting four baseballs and having a great evening wasn’t enough, the ballpark cam managed to focus on us later in the game, particularly on my older son. Talk about making a kid’s night!
We left after 7 full innings, which took an Boston/Yankees-like 3 hours to complete, despite protestations from my kids. I can’t blame them, it was a great night.
Thank you, San Diego. We’ll be back next year!