I went to my first Padres game in ’69. Now I know that is a nice year to start a fandom, but it also makes me about as old as @liesurefriar. I was four and my brother was three when our dad took us to see the Padres take on the San Francisco Giants. I remember just about nothing from the game but my dad says I yelled “Say Hey!” to Willie Mays in centerfield every inning he took the field. But that was the start to my fandom. A native San Diegan falling in love with the local team.
Fast forward thirty-nine years and I’ve accepted a Projecting Engineering job with a Houston Oil & Gas company and I no longer have easy access to my beloved Padres. We went to tons of games every year growing up. My parents had season tickets and some summers I could attend six games a week. Now I was thousands of miles from Petco Park but minutes away from Enron Field. Sorry, make that Minute Maid Park. I’m an old timer and still call the San Diego County Credit Union stadium the Murph.
I could still talk with Padres fans on the internet thanks to the forums at the San Diego Union Tribune (Sign On San Diego!), and talk we would. I posted so much on that site I should have been let go years ago. But seeing the team in person was limited to just a three game series with the Astros every year. My wife and I would always go to the games, and even drag our kids along to cheer on our favorite team. Just look at happy they are to be at this game!
(Photo courtesy Brandy Lybarger)
It wasn’t much, but it was nice to see our Padres playing in person for just a weekend or a few weekday games each year. When we did get back to San Diego, it was typically Christmas time. But we did get back a few summers and caught a game with the Padres against the New York Yankees. But those precious few games a season were not really satiating my want to see the Padres like I did growing up. Fortunately, MLB came out with Extra Innings and my summer nights changed for the better.
(photo courtesy Billy Lybarger – that’s why it’s out of focus)
We subscribed right away and now I could watch 158 games a season if I wanted. To hell with the kids’ softball and baseball games, or cheerleading competitions! I’ve got a Padres game to catch! Yeah, I’m still married, so I mostly snuck in a few games a week in between watching the little ones develop in their own sports. In all honesty there was nothing I’d rather do than watch my kids play. I was their biggest fan. And now that they are all grown and in college, or graduated, I miss seeing them play. But this also means I have more time to, you guessed it, watch Padres games.
So I watched games and would interact with fans on the old forum. Then, the greatest and worst thing at the same time ever happened. Twitter. I took a look around and decided to fill my feed with baseball news. But then I began to find Padres Twitter. I followed the blogs and then began to write a little bit for one. I followed pretty much everyone that talked Padres and I tried not to be too judgmental of differing opinions because I really didn’t want my feed to be an echo chamber. I mean I even followed Chicken Friars. Plus, I liked the discussion. I am always up for learning new things and ten years ago really didn’t know much about sabermetrics. But I would read Fangraphs and learn the terminology. Looked at as just more information to evaluate players. I’m not so much a stat vs scout guy. I think there is merit to any data you can collect.
We have now been in Houston for twelve years. Twelve long fucking years. I try not to swear too much but sometimes you need to for dramatic effect and have you ever been to Houston in August? Then I think you understand. At this point in my career I’ve pretty much resigned myself to know I won’t be working in San Diego, so I’ll probably have to admire them from afar for the most part. And I’m okay with that. My wife and I will still catch a couple of games every three years (thanks Bud Selig!) but I still watch plenty of games in the evenings or late nights here in the Central Standard Time. Good thing I’m a night owl. But between the games, Twitter, the blogs and now the podcasts, and by the way this really is the Golden Age of Padres podcast content, I still feel connected. At least as connected as one can be several hundreds of miles away from my hometown.
(photo courtesy Astros Usher)
Catch me on Twitter – @Lybargerbrewery