Moral Support For Creative Sorts
Brought To You By David Matt Green
Journalist - Photographer - Editor - Publicist - Videographer
Webmaster of ShyCloud.com and SDCSA.net
#5 -- Tuesday, March 16, 2004
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I just spent this past weekend attending the Aztec Invitational Baseball Tournament with my friends and former students Rich Campbell (near right) and Chris Putnam (far right). Featuring the first games ever played in Petco Park, the beautiful new East Village home of the San Diego Padres, the event was hosted by my alma mater, San Diego State University's Aztecs, and their coach, former Aztecs and Padres star Tony Gwynn! The eight-team tournament featured 10 games played over four days, March 11-14. Included here are some of my pictures from the first two days. I put another roll of film in for developing yesterday, so I probably will have some more Petco Park photos for you in ShyCloud #6. I also hope to have some comments next time from Chris and Rich, who were members of The Oracle newspaper staff back when I was teaching high school Journalism in the early '80s. If any of you readers of this web page also were at Petco Park this weekend, please e-mail me your impressions of San Diego's new temple of baseball (below), and I will publish some of them here next time too! You also can post your comments in our Message Forum topic about baseball.
As someone who isn't exactly wealthy, I decided to use the tournament as sort of a beta test to find out how cheaply one might be able to visit Petco Park during the upcoming Padres season. I therefore resolved to spend as little as I could for parking over the four days. I've always been good at walking long distances, so I didn't feel I had to park as close as most people would want to be. I had been needing some new shoes for everyday wear anyway, so I bought a pair of New Balances Wednesday night and I set out to break them in over the weekend with a lot of walking from possibly distant parking places to Petco! My first test would be Thursday's opening night of the tournament, featuring a 7 p.m. game between the University of Houston and host San Diego State. I decided to head Downtown early, and arrived on F Street via Highway 94 around 3:15. I spotted several open spaces with meters at 11th and F, and quickly grabbed one of them. Since the meters were in effect until 6 p.m. but only allowed for two hours of time, it was too early for me to go to the ballpark. I put in $1.50 in quarters to cover me for 84 minutes, then trotted north in my new shoes to pass a little time at Wahrenbrock's Book House on Broadway, visiting with my old pal Jan Tonnesen, aka Troy Dante, the guitar-playing leader of notorious local lounge lizard Jose Sinatra's band, the Troy Dante Inferno. Jan/Troy has a day job at Wahrenbrock's peddling books.
I chatted with him until 4, then headed back to my truck. I pumped another $1.25 into the meter to cover me until 6, then headed south on 10th towards Petco Park. I made a slight three-block westerly detour to take me to 7th and J, so I could pass by a building (right) where my father once worked to put my little sister Diane and I through good schools. I wanted to pay a small tribute to my dad, Madison "Bud" Green, because he introduced me to the great sport of baseball when I was very young! I can't ever remember not having a ball, a glove and a bat when I was a little kid, and I figure if Bud hadn't passed away in 1987, he would be as excited about our new ballpark as I am! He took Diane and I and our mom Helen to Lane Field in 1957 (albeit for a rodeo), and to Westgate Park in 1958 for our first Padres games, and years later Dad and I went to Jack Murphy Stadium together a few times. Thanks for giving me your love of baseball, Dad! I hope your spirit went along with me to the game! Anyway, when my dad worked there in the late '50s and '60s, the building was a McKesson & Robbins Drug Company warehouse, but now it seems to be a vacant former antique store. Looks like a great location, if anyone wants to open a ballpark-related business!
Next I walked east three more blocks to the corner of 10th and J, where I found my high school and college buddy Greg Drilling. A lieutenant now in the San Diego Police Department, Greg is in charge of their motorcycle division, and he said he would be at that corner supervising things all night. From there I walked another block or so south, which put me at the right field corner of the new ballpark. Rich already had provided me with my ticket for the game, so I was ready to go inside! That wasn't to be for quite some time, however, as the gates wouldn't end up opening until well over an hour later! While I waited, I decided to take a hike around the entire outside of Petco Park, kind of like I used to walk around a race course when I went to Formula 1 races back in the '70s. I headed south past a small set of ticket windows, some sunken doors leading to the Padres offices, and then a much larger covered ticket window area. Near the corner of Park Boulevard and the newly named Tony Gwynn Drive, I spotted another old college friend going in the press gate -- local TV and radio personality Ken Kramer. He was too far away for me to say hello, however, so I just kept walking and taking pictures. I headed west past the main gates near home plate and then around a corner onto 7th and north along what seems to be the backside of Petco Park. I eventually passed the Western Metal Supply Building and then a left field gate, before turning back east at J Street. Greg was indeed still keeping order at 10th and J when I went by there a second time, so I snapped his picture with the ballpark behind him. I didn't keep track of how long it took me to completely circle Petco, but I'd guess it was somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes.
Once I arrived back at the right field corner, I hung around there and waited patiently for the gates to open. When they finally did, Rich and the others who were joining me that night hadn't arrived yet, so I walked inside along with a bunch of strangers, as one of the first few dozen people to ever enter Petco Park for a baseball game! Ahead of me down what once was K Street I could see a walkway between the ballpark itself and "The Park at the Park" beyond center field, so I headed there and soon found myself looking directly over the baseball field from behind an area called "The Beach." I tell you it was a glorious sight (right), and well worth all the years we all waited for this day! If you weren't there this weekend, I hope you get to see it yourself sometime soon! I took it all in from there in center field for a while, then I headed back to the right field entrance to the large concourse that runs around the park behind the stands. There I spent $5 for a program and $10 for an official Aztec Invitational baseball cap. Since I was hungry and thirsty by then, I also bought two hot dogs for $3 each and a beer for $5. I stood next to a wall using a trash can for a table as I ate the dogs, and while I was there I spotted local actress/singer Leigh Scarritt walking along so I yelled a hello to her across the concourse.
Around that same time, Rich finally called my cell phone to say he and his grandmother and his son Lucas had arrived and would meet me on the Upper Deck. I rode two escalators to get there and quickly found them, then we headed to our seats in Row 2 of Section 325. Eventually Heidi and Paul Chavez and their three children also joined us, and we all proceeded to enjoy the very first baseball game ever played at Petco Park! The outcome was a happy one too, as my Aztecs beat Houston 4-0 behind the 3-hit pitching of Scott Shoemaker and a home run and three RBIs from first baseman Reilly Embrey! As anticipated, the 40,106 people who attended the game shattered the previous record for attendance at a college baseball game, which had been 27,673! Our entire group stayed for the whole game, then we leisurely walked down to my spot behind "The Beach," where all of them checked out the view from center field. Everyone noticed there was no grass in "The Park at the Park" yet, and we wondered if it would be ready in time for the Padres Opening Day on April 8. Reluctantly, we finally left the park about 30 minutes after the final out was made. Greg Drilling and most of the other policeman were already gone when I walked north past 10th and J, as there already was no real traffic to be seen! My total expenditure for the first day, including $15 for my ticket, was $44.75.
On Friday I arrived Downtown around noon, planning to watch two games then walk over to Jimmy Love's in the Gaslamp Quarter around 8 p.m. to see Super Funk Fantasy. Since I was going to be there too long to use a two-hour metered space, I was willing to pay $5-6 for all-day parking in a lot. After driving around for 10 or 15 minutes, though, I never found a lot that cheap, so I headed north to look for a spot without a meter. I finally found one way up at 7th and Beech, across from the El Cortez Hotel! I knew that would mean a long walk back after the games, ending in a pretty steep uphill climb, but I was anxious to get to the ballpark to see Chris, since it had been several years since we last saw each other. I knew he had arrived at the airport from San Francisco at 10:45 and would already be inside Petco Park with Rich. I felt like breaking in my new shoes some more anyway, so I snagged that space and off I went. I made it to the ticket office near the right field gate within 20-30 minutes, bought another $15 ticket, then walked around the lower concourse to the third base side, where Chris and Rich were sitting in field level seats about halfway down the left field line. The guys were watching UCSD and Point Loma Nazarene play the first-ever day game at Petco Park, and I joined them to see UCSD win 2-1.
During the hour or so break before the second game, we headed off to tour the new ballpark more thoroughly. We tried out the special standing-room-only area on the Lower Deck's left field side and decided we liked it, then we checked out the views from both sides of the left field foul pole, which is really a corner of the Western Metal Supply Building! From there we visited the Padres Store inside the building, where Chris was disappointed to discover they didn't have any of the old-style brown hats the Padres wore in 1984, the year he and Rich graduated from Saints and the first time the team made it into a World Series (which they lost to the Detroit Tigers). After that we found the brick Rich and his wife and kids had bought with their names on it in a plaza below the Western Metal Supply Building, and we also discovered that workers had been busy that morning laying sod in "The Park at the Park," complete with a kid-sized diamond, so that area may be ready for Opening Day after all! Next we visited center field to show Chris "The Beach," where a woman volunteered to take the picture of the three of us that you saw at the top of this column.
It was almost time for the second game to begin when we sat down for several minutes in the little home run porch located just inside the right field foul line. We even chatted a bit with a coach who was tossing a baseball against the porch to test how balls would bounce off the wall. I told Rich and Chris I had watched a tape of Thursday's game after I went home the previous night, and that the announcers had said season ticket holders were allowed to choose their seats, and the guy who had owned tickets longest was given the first pick of every seat in the park, and he chose four in the front row of the home run porch! From there we moved on to seats a few rows behind the first base dugout, where we watched No. 8-ranked Long Beach State beat UCLA 3-0 behind a masterful performance from a 6'7" right-hander named Jered Weaver, who allowed only one hit while striking out 15 batters! The Padres are said to be considering him as a possible pick with the #1 choice they have in the upcoming baseball draft, and dozens of major league scouts reportedly were at the game to see Weaver, who hit 93-mph on their radar guns as he raised his season record to 6-0 and lowered his Earned Run Average to a miniscule 0.82! Chris borrowed my Nikon for a few minutes during the game and used it to shoot this excellent picture of Weaver in action!
Rich and Chris left after that game to meet up for dinner with Chris's Mom, Judi Putnam, but I stuck around. Tony Gwynn was supposed to sign autographs from 5:30-6:30 at a souvenir stand on the first base side, so I walked around some more and waited for him to appear. Happily, he arrived an hour early, so I was in line and waiting for him by 4:45. I had planned to have Tony sign my program, but other people were asking him to autograph their tickets, so I decided to have him sign my ticket as well. I was only in line for 20-30 minutes, but by the time I finally made it to Tony, I also had bought a baseball with the SDSU logo on it from the souvenir stand. I had him sign the $12 baseball, the $5 program and the $15 ticket, and I figure those three signatures by a future Hall of Famer have made those items considerably more valuable than they were when I bought them! After that, I wandered around the park some more, then left around 6:30 and hiked back to my truck. I moved it a couple of blocks closer to Jimmy Love's, before walking back south to check out Super Funk Fantasy, who I liked a lot. My total expenditure at the ballpark on Friday was $35, including my ticket, the ball now signed by a soon-to-be Hall of Famer, a hot dog and a beer.
On Saturday I didn't go to the 11 a.m. game, then I went to the 3 p.m. game about an hour after it started, timing my arrival Downtown to coincide with the last two hours of parking meter time. I found a primo spot on 8th Avenue just south of Market, only two blocks north of the ballpark! I fed $2.50 in quarters into the meter, then headed to the same right field ticket booth. Chris, Rich, his wife Lisa and their two kids weren't due to arrive until the third game, so I wandered around the park, taking everything in and watching UCLA beat Nebraska 4-2 from all sorts of different viewpoints. Along the way I bumped into Gary Monahan, who graduated three years behind me from both St. Didacus and St. Augustine. I also ate a $5 slice of pizza (provided by Oggi's) and drank two California Gold ales for $6 each, and I bought two more Aztec Invitational baseball caps for $10 each and a tournament t-shirt for $5. All that added up to my most expensive day at $59.50. When the others arrived, we watched the game from the first base side. San Diego State faced Long Beach State and this time it was the Aztecs who ended up on the wrong end of a 2-hit shutout, falling to the Dirtbags (that's what they call themselves!) 5-0.
I had thought Sunday would be the easiest day to find free parking, since the meters aren't in effect that day, but I quickly discovered I was wrong! I went Downtown about 2, planning to watch the 3 p.m. game, and all the metered spots were full for blocks! I finally nabbed a parking place across from St. Joseph's Cathedral at 4th and Beech, when I spotted a woman about to get into her car to leave. I grabbed that spot and hiked to the ballpark. Just before I got there, I called Chris and he said they were sitting on the third base side, so I headed for the left field gate, expecting to buy a ticket there. That proved impossible, though, as it turned out the only ticket windows on that side are at the Padres Store in the Western Metal Supply Building, and they weren't open for these games! I ended up walking all the way south to the home plate corner, then turning east to the ticket booth near first base! I was kind of bummed about that, until I realized the ticket seller in the next window over from where I was buying mine was none other than Al Avallone, who graduated from Saints a year after me. Al is a longtime Padres employee whose father also worked for the Padres! Years ago I used to buy tickets from Al's dad! I said hello to Al, then headed inside to meet up with Chris and Rich. Chris had offered to buy me lunch, so we went to the Marketplace area on the third base side, where I got 2 hot dogs and a Margarita. We then watched USD upset Long Beach State 7-3.
There still was one more game to play on Sunday night at 7 p.m., but Chris had to leave by 6 to catch his flight back to San Francisco and I didn't feel like walking back to my truck yet again, so I hitched a ride to it with Rich. I made it home in time to watch the final game on Channel 4, seeing SDSU fall to Nebraska 6-2. Thanks to the generosity of both Chris (who also shared a bag of kettle corn) and Rich (who bought me a Coke), my total cost for Sunday was only $15 for my ticket. Over the course of the entire four-day tournament I spent $60 for tickets, $52 for souvenirs, $36 for refreshments and only $6.25 for parking. My grand total for the four days was $154.25, for an average expenditure of $38.56 per day.
So what all did I learn about Petco Park during the tournament? Well, for one thing it seemed to be a lot colder there than I ever remember being at any Padres game at Qualcomm Stadium, but that might just be because Padres games at the Q weren't played in March! A chilly wind often blew in from the right field side this weekend, but around August or September that wind might turn into a cooling breeze that will be much appreciated during the hot summer! We also saw some fog swirling around the light towers on Thursday night (right), but it wasn't low enough to cause any problems down on the playing field. Because of the cold the first two days, I ended up bringing a pair of gloves with me on Saturday and Sunday, which I wore while wishing I had thicker ones and a heavier jacket! Costwise, I learned that there are some excellent standing-room-only areas, where tickets will go for only $5! Since I'm a guy who often stands in the back of rooms at events anyway, standing room tickets at Petco may be an ideal way for me to attend Padres games cheaply! I also learned that it apparently will be easy to grab parking meter spots close to the park on weeknights if you arrive right around 4 p.m., and I decided that if I go to a Sunday game, that might be a day I'll take the Trolley and avoid trying to find a parking place! I'm not sure when I will return to Petco Park, but I know I definitely will be back there someday soon! It's a great place to watch baseball!
St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow, Wednesday, March 17, and I'm going to celebrate it at Desi 'n' Friends in Point Loma. I always suspected I must have some Irish blood on my father's side of the family, and my real full name is actually David Charles Patrick Green, because I chose Patrick for my Catholic Confirmation name when I was 12 or 13! Last year I did some research on my ancestors and I finally confirmed that some of them did indeed come from Ireland! This, therefore, will be my first St. Patrick's Day knowing that I am an actual son of a son of a son of a daughter of an Irishman! My Saints '67 classmate Jerry Gontang will be providing music and laughter at Desi's from 6-8 p.m., and he promises there will be "Green beer, green burgers and green fries all night long. If you weren't Irish before you came in, you will be by the time you leave!" Jerry plays at Desi's on the first and third Wednesday evenings of every month, by the way, so this is his usual night there. This weekend, on Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20, Jerry will be in Minnesota as one-third of the band Stars On The Water. They will play from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday at O'Donovan's Pub in Minneapolis, then on Saturday they'll perform at the St. MinneSomePlace Parrot Head Club's annual fund raiser called "This Hotel Room."
Two old friends from my days taking pictures for Tom Rusch's Covenant Ark Theatre back in the 1970s, Vickie Jenkins (second from right in front row) and Dan Ratelle (far left), are both members of a vocal ensemble called Pacific Camerata. Dan actually is more than just a member of the group, as he also is their director, and I've actually known Dan since the '60s, as he's another guy who was a year behind me at St. Augustine High School. Part of the Foundation for Early Music Performance and one of San Diego's premier choral ensembles, Pacific Camerata has been performing a wide variety of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music in churches and halls throughout San Diego since 1994. The group will present "Lost Love and Redemption," a program of Baroque and Renaissance vocal works, at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, March 20, at St. Andrew's-by-the Sea Episcopal Church in Pacific Beach. Admission will be $10 for general and $5 for students, seniors and Early Music Society members. For more information, call 619-527-4457.
When The Cubes, the hot '80s band that includes my friend Di'Zsa Wilde (far left) and Sean Michaels (near left), appeared at Jimmy Love's in the Gaslamp Quarter in January, they rocked a house jam-packed with enthusiastic dancers who arrived early and didn't leave until after the show ended! If you missed The Cubes that night, be sure to catch them when they return to Jimmy Love's on Thursday, March 25, starting around 9:45 p.m.! Among the songs you might hear are: "Back on the Chain Gang," "I'll Melt With You," "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Call Me," "Stray Cat Strut," "Walk Like an Egyptian," "Love is the Drug," "Kids in America," "One Way or Another," "99 Luftballoons," "I Ran," "Summer of 69," "I Touch Myself," "Jessie's Girl," "My Sharona," "Wild Wild Life," "Jenny (867-5309)," "It's the End of the World as we Know it," "Heartbreaker," "Walking in LA, " "Like a Virgin" and "Walkin' on Sunshine."
Two weeks ago I mentioned that I know dozens of people and groups who have web pages, and said that I had created a page at ShyCloud.com/friends.html which lists the URLs of my friends. At that time I listed 90 links to my friends. Since then I've added 10 more links, taking the total to 100! Here are the new URLs:
The page also features a very large collection of web sites about my hometown, San Diego, California. There are more than 100 links to local pages.
If you haven't yet taken the time to register for ShyCloud.com's message boards, please do it today and join the conversations that are beginning to develop here! If you're already registered, you can use the links below to go straight to our forums:
So long for this time, folks! I hope to see many of you at some of the events I mentioned above, as well as posting up a storm in our ShyCloud.com Message Forums!
Love ya all!
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This site made its World Wide Web debut on December 29, 1996.
Photo of Rich Campbell, DMG and Chris Putnam by an attractive blonde stranger.
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