As I have mentioned previously, over the Christmas break, I was able to go on a tour of Petco Park while visiting my family in San Diego. I was a missionary in Chicago when Petco Park opened in 2004, not getting back until the end of the season in 2005. I guess when it first opened, one of my uncles knew somebody important and a bunch of my cousins went on an "all access" type tour of the stadium. This was probably much lamer than that one, but it was still pretty good. I think all of these photos are in order, but in combining photos from our camera with the ones from my phone, there might be some photos that aren't.
Upon arriving, I realized just how nice the Gaslamp District is compared to when I was a kid. I remember going on church outings where we made hundreds of lunches and passed them out to the homeless. While it's still not a great area to be, it is definitely much improved from when I was a kid. Oh, and we saw Mark Kotsay on a light pole.
The gates to the stadium were opened, so we walked across the concourse near the Park in the Park on our way to buy tickets for the tour. $12 bucks seemed a little steep for a walking tour, but since I haven't been to a game since the summer of 2012, I was antsy to get whatever I could. However, upon arriving at the ticket office, we found out that they were sold out of the 10:30 tour and we'd have to wait until the 12:30. That was a bummer. Two hours of time to kill.
Fortunately, it was your typically beautiful San Diego day, so my brother, dad, brother in law, nephew and my wife's uncle all headed down to Seaport Village, past the Convention Center. Nothing of consequence really happened here, unless you like boats. We saw one that is apparently $100 million called Vibrant Curiosity that is owned by a German billionaire screw manufacturer. Didn't get a picture of it, instead got the backside of my little brother Ammon.
After hanging out there for a while, we headed back to the ticket office. We had been told that if we made it back before 12:00 we'd be able to get in to the 12:30 tour. There was already a small group of about five people, but that was it. However, when they opened up, we were told that it was sold out again! Apparently lots of people had bought tickets online ahead of time. Not cool. My brother in law was the last one to get tickets, and he finagled tickets for the rest of us, since the lady recognized us from earlier. Phew! Disaster averted.
I wasn't feeling great about the start of the trip, but at least we were going to get in. Now, we had time to kill in the gift shop waiting for the tour to begin. I wanted to get something, but it was all so ridiculously priced. They had some discounted hats for $10, but my head is a regular size, so none of them fit me. I was glad to see that My Man Chris Denorfia was represented in the shirsey (shirt jersey) department, but the lack of Andrew Cashner was disturbing. Not like I could afford one anyways...
Well, we saw some boring stuff as we went into the tunnel, but the first thing worth noting that was saw was the visitor's clubhouse. I'm sure it looks much cooler with… you know… stuff in it, but it was a good start. Here's me and Ammon kicking it on the leather couch. He was rocking a Ft. Wayne Tincaps hat, a Christmas gift. My little nephew Kaden is in the background. That kid was a trooper, it was a long trip for him.
Here's the only shot I got of my dad. Wish I had gotten more of him, but it was either him or me manning the camera. Props to him for funding the trip, and for raising me up right - as a baseball fan. His headgear of choice is the hat that the Padres wear on Sunday's, going along with the Military Appreciation camouflage.
There were some batting cages that looked kinda cool but also kinda small as we worked our way into the underbelly of the stadium. But when we saw the light of day, I got giddy.
Into the visitor's dugout! Here's my best "manager" pose, though the jeans and flip flops kinda take away from the feel of it.
Who sits on the bottom of the dugout bench? All the cool guys rock it up top. I was a little more stoked than Ammon, who is still too cool to care about anything.
While I'm not always a fan of flip flops (comedian Demetri Martin has a bit about wearing flip flops and basically saying to yourself "Well, I hope I don't get chased anywhere today"), the reason I wore 'em was because I was hoping to run across the field in my bare feet. I guess I knew it was a long shot, and we were told not to, so the best I could do was walk barefoot in the clay. Ammon got a few scoops of dirt and put them into his pocket. Maybe he cared a little more than I thought.
Here we are on the most beautiful baseball field I have ever set (bare) foot on. This was easily the pinnacle of the tour. I could have stayed on the field all day, I really didn't want to leave. But, the tour had to move on.
We had entered the field through the visitor's side, so we exited through the Padres clubhouse. On the way, we passed through a room that was pretty cool looking, though very dimly lit. All over the walls were paintings of former Padre greats. The only one that turned out semi decent was of Kevin Brown. Though I'm not a big fan of Brown, if anybody deserves a statue outside of Petco Park (besides the big 3: Gwynn, Hoffman, & Coleman), it's him - the Padres winning the NL pennant in '98 was the big push they needed to get a new park, and Brown was the biggest reason they won.
Next, we worked our way up to the press box. In one of the hallways, I stopped and paid tribute to the man who called so many games that I listened to as I fell asleep at night. RIP Jerry Coleman.
The press box was pretty cool, and the guide told us lots of Padres trivia. Most of it I already knew, so I might've been "that guy" on the tour who thought he was a know it all.
Being up in the press box gave us the most picturesque view of the field. Mind you, this photo was taken on New Year's Eve day. San Diego is a beautiful place.
Leaving the press box, we looked out across the way to the Coronado Bay bridge. Very beautiful, though more so from a different angle, or at night. The bridge going across the road nearest the stadium is a pedestrian bridge that connects to some parking garages.
Next, we headed towards the Western Metal Supply building. I had always wanted to go there, but I had figured that you had to have a ticket to get in there during a game. Well, turns out I was half right - the bottom two levels and the roof are all for group outings or really rich people (probably both, I guess), but the third deck is a restaurant where you can eat on the balcony. There was some cool stuff to look at on the third level, but I liked this picture of the '92 All Star Game the best. The tour guide mentioned that MLB had told the Padres that if they wanted another ASG, they'd have to build a new stadium (which turned out to be Petco Park). Still waiting for that one, Bud.
Well, I'd like to try to make it up here for my next game, but I feel like the wait might cause me to miss parts of the game - something I wouldn't want to do since my chances of seeing the Padres are so limited. Still, a very cool place. My brother-in-law, Nate, is rocking the Goonies shirt with the shades. We found out that the only player to hit a home run into the third level more than once was none other than KHALIIIIIIIIIIIILLLL GREEEEEEENNNNNNEEE!
A shot of the field from the WMS building.
Down below is a view of the bullpens and the batter's eye. Above there are all the numbers the Padres have retired: 6, 19, 31, 35, 51, and 42 (can you name them?). Also visible: the Beach seats, the bullpen organic garden, and the Park in the Park. The big dome in the background is the new San Diego Public Library, which looks awesome.
The tour pretty much ended there, and we walked back around past the gift shop out onto the main concourse. There was this huge banner for Cameron Maybin out in the front. There was a poll on the MLB Network recently that asked who the "face" of the Padres organization was. Chase Headley was the winner, but seeing as how it's unlikely that he'll remain a Padre after this season, it seems like the Padres are trying to push Maybin as the "face" of the franchise. Not sure how likely it is that the guy who only played 14 games last season is going to the the guy that brings in the fans (I'da gone with Andrew Cashner), but hopefully he can get it going this year.
Onto people who were legit faces of the franchise. I had never been to the statue of Tony Gwynn, even though it's been up for over half a decade. It's cool and up on top of a little hill at the Park in the Park, overlooking the actual field. You should go see it and say hi.
Here was the one I was really excited to see. When I took this picture, Jerry Coleman was still alive. He would pass away about a week later, the day after we would get back from this vacation. While I love that there is a tribute to Coleman at Petco Park, I'd like it to be much bigger and in a better location - it's right there as you come into the park. It worked out fine to take pictures at since there were only a handful of people there, but even at a scarcely populated Padre game, there's gonna be enough traffic to keep it from being a place that people can stop and pay their respects to the Colonel.
Another thing that seems a little odd is the placement of the posters behind the statue. Here is a closer look of the mostly obstructed second panel. Look at that! Two pictures of baseball cards in a post about a Petco Park tour. This, by the way, is the best Padres team card ever. Jerry is the manager and there are freaking elephants in the background. How you gonna try and top that?
All in all, even though I didn't get to try on any jerseys, hit batting practice, or high five Chris Denorfia, it was still a pretty good experience. Hearing Uncle Kenny's stories about sneaking into Jack Murphy Stadium using his painting truck and some clip boards makes me want to take my own tour of the stadium, but I am not really that bold.
If you've got twelve bucks and an hour and a half to kill in San Diego, I'd definitely recommend the tour. I'd be sure to buy tickets online ahead of time, however, since the ticket handling seems a little suspect. High five Deno if you see him.