Indoctrination 101: FanFest

There are certain areas of life (e.g. religion and political affiliation), where beliefs must be arrived upon using one’s own freewill. To force these personal beliefs upon a young person is anathema to the concept of liberty. I do not believe that following the Padres however, falls under the purview of freewill – not if you’re a good parent, that is.

Indoctrination can be tricky business with youth. If you choose a forceful tact with a child there is the very real risk of rebellion and your intentions of creating a Padres fan, as benevolent as they may be, could lead to team jumping – imagine having a Dodgers fan in your household! But there need not be bloodshed. Fortunately, I have put a lot of thought into this and I’m here to share with you where indoctrination begins: FanFest.

The FanFest Indoctrination Model, or FMI to the uninitiated, is comprised of three steps to aid in the creation of lifelong Padres fans: Field History, Treats, and Knick-Knacks.

Small children love the last two segments of FMI but carry the indifference of youth regarding step #1. This is why any good parent will start with Field History and use Treats and Knick-Knacks as rewards for kids who begrudgingly indulge a painful Padres past.

We’ll break-up the Field History walk into “If 7 years or younger say . . . “ (protecting their innocence) and “If 8 years or older say . . .” (preparing them for the grim reality of life). You know your child better than anyone so you’ll have to decide if they’re ready for both sides of Padres history.

Before you get yourself down to the field buy some cotton candy. Kids must start making associations that encourage return trips to the Park and there’s nothing better than using food to condition them. It’s only 10am but this is a breakfast town and anything goes.

Walk yourself over to the first base box and begin the lesson:

If 7 years or younger say . . .

This is where Steve Garvey played. He was the first baseman on the 1st Padres team to go to the World Series when they played at Jack Murphy Stadium. See those numbers up on the big wall? That’s called the batter’s eye. The number 6 is his. It’s retired and nobody can ever wear it again.

When the Padres played in San Diego Stadium fans watched Nate Colbert, and Willie McCovey play first base. More recently we watched Adrian Gonzalez grow into an All-Star. Each one was a fantastic ball player for the San Diego Padres.

If 8 years or older say . . .

While Steve Garvey fulfills an important part in Padres lore his number probably shouldn’t have been retired. Maybe you can begin a grassroots movement to tear down that number. Steve Garvey is also a Dodger.

Adrian Gonzalez is a Dodger too and Willie McCovey is really a Giant. You can boo all of them if you so choose.

Do you see those lines in foul territory? Yes, right there. That’s where Buddy Black body-slammed Milton Bradley on a Sunday afternoon in September of 2007, and tore the outfielder’s ACL, effectively ending the season.

After the travails of the first base bag, make your way over to the pitcher’s mound.

If 7 years or younger say . . .

This is where Trevor Hoffman was hoisted upon his teammates’ shoulders after his 500th save and also where Jake Peavy, following in the footsteps of Mark Davis and Randy Jones, took home a Cy Young award in 2007. The Cy Young means that they were the best pitchers in the league during a season. Look out at the wall again. Trevor and Randy’s numbers are both up there too.

If 8 years or older say . . .

Trevor should have won a Cy Young award too but he got screwed. When you “get screwed” it means that people are “stupid” and that you were “robbed”.

This is also the spot where Chris Young got his face blasted by an Albert Pujols line drive back up the box. He bled all over the ground riiiiiight . . . there! He went to Princeton, which is a very good school. If you work hard you can go to an Ivy League school too. Or you could matriculate through the UC system and save me some money.

After you’ve made your educational goals clear, head over to shortstop.

If 7 years or younger say . . .

Here’s where a young man from Clemson University, with shaggy blond hair won the shortstop position in 2004. You know that figurine on your dresser of a player diving? Yep. That’s Khalil Greene. He was a lot of fun to watch.

If 8 years or older say . . .

Good lord, Khalil Greene could not hit a curveball to save his life. He was a fun player but it was so painful having to depend on with him when a game was on the line.

As bad as Khalil Greene could be in the batter’s box listen to this list of successors at the position: Luis Rodriguez, Sean Kazmar, Chris Burke, Josh Wilson, Everth Cabrera, Andy Parrino and the old washed-up versions of Miguel Tejada and Jason Bartlett. This is what we call a black hole.

And look over there, a little closer to second base. That’s where Phil Nevin stood in 2004 when he looked up at Kevin Towers’ suite and mouthed a slew of expletives. Ah, good times.

History comes alive when you can walk through the places where it happened. The field at PETCO Park . . . it’s like Gettysburg.

Kids don’t mind messy food so give them some sunflower seeds and practice eating them like a ball player while you make your way to the outfield grass. In left field you will find the chaotic entrance to the Garage Sale that Corey Brock wrote about yesterday. The oral history lesson for the day has ended –now it’s time to buy some Padres knick-knacks and cement the fandom of your little one.

The FanFest Garage Sale presents an opportunity to pick up a lot of Padres related items at deeply discounted prices. Kids love to hang things on their walls so go for the Chris Young growth chart or an 8×10 autographed glossy of Archi Cianfrocco. Find some old game programs for future arts and crafts projects and then get some magnets! Kids love sh*t that sticks and with magnets the fridge won’t get ruined.

As your kids eagerly pick out Padres memorabilia bask in the glow of your accomplishment: the creation of a lifelong Padres fan.

You deserve something nice. Go buy yourself a game worn Joe Thatcher jersey (the Padres longest tenured player*) and regale the kids with stories about the crafty lefty reliever while you eat encased meats (bratwurst for you and hotdogs for them), properly slathered with mustard**.

*Chase Headley is the most tenured Padre, edging Joe Thatcher by about 40 days, but ownership never offered their best player an extension sooooo . . .

** Don’t be the ketchup parent. Teach your child properly.

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