Fantography at the Central Library, a San Diego SABR Event

On June 14, 2014, at Sullivan Family Baseball Research Center in the Central Library downtown, the folks from the Ted Williams Chapter of SABR had a special presentation of Fantography: San Diego Baseball, a new book featuring photos taken by Padres fans over the years.

I have to give Padres Trail credit for taking notes.  I was concentrating on taking photos.  It is a photography-based book, after all!

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Andy Strasberg

Andy Strasberg kicked off the stories of how the book came about and introduced each speaker, all of whom have photos featured in the book.

The only rules about the photos in the book:

  • They had to be taken by fans, not professional photographers
  • They could not be game action shots

Some of the photos are featured on the Sullivan Family Baseball Research Center’s wall.  Some can only be seen in the book.  If you haven’t been up to the Center right next to the eighth floor reading room in the Central Library, I highly recommend you do it.  It’s well worth your time.


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Summer Serrano, President, San Diego Madres

Started by the Padres player’s wives, but not limited only to women now.

The Madres hold a lot of  fundraisers for little league, softball, and challenger teams.  In 1972, they sponsored a grand total of two teams.  Fast forward to 2014 and they now sponsor 100 teams in 50 leagues around the San Diego area.

They have luncheons every month at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.  Current and former Padres players, coaches, executives, and broadcasters are guest speakers every month.


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Larry Carpa

Larry has quite a few photos featured in the book:

  • Larry Andersen and Bruce Hurst both wearing Groucho Marx glasses.
  • Tony Gwynn with kids on the field, all of whom were wearing 19.
  • His daughter, Cheryl, in the outfield shagging balls during the 1992 All-Star Home Run Derby.  She later worked in the Padres’ front office.
  • The Colorado Silver Bullets’ catcher with Phil Niekro, who managed the ladies barnstorming team, in a game against a Navy/Marines team.

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Doug Heron

Doug talked about the Riverside RedHawks minor league franchise and a chance to witness an unusual moment.

During the 1992 baseball lockout, Tony Gwynn worked on an instructional video that was recorded in the RedHawks stadium.  Where the SD would normally be on the 1990 Padres uniform, Tony had a “TG” there in a similar style.


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Paul Joba

Paul had a couple of photos from the 1968 American Airlines Astrojet Golf Classic.

Carl Yastrzemski and Lance Alworth were paired with two local golfers in the tournament.


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Tom Lawrin

He showed us a photo of Bob Owchinko with Tom’s son (He also made reference to what owchinko means in Japanese.  But I’ll let you look that up on your own).

He took a photo from the 1992 All-Star Game of a human star formed on the field.

He had a photo of Ozzie Smith with his kids featured in the book as well.

Dodgers and Padres players talking before start of last game of 1978 season.


Strasberg then talked a little about Fred O. Rodgers photos, who was unable to attend.

Rodgers took a photo of Tony Gwynn just before his first MLB at-bat as Gwynn sat in the dugout.


Strasberg then showed a picture of himself  in Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.  He was standing on the field, weeds all around him between second and third base, with a bat in his hand.  Strasberg told the story of hitting a “home run” out of the then-abandoned Connie Mack Stadium.


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Tom Walsh

Tom’s dad worked up from an usher to be the personal attendant for Ray Kroc in the owner’s box.

I’m a nobody, but my dad, Dennis, was somebody.

Tom has lots of personalized autographs, but they’re all mementos.  He’ll never sell them.  They’ll eventually get passed on to his kids.  And hopefully, their children.


Finally, the featured speaker, the San Diego Chicken, took over.  He had quite a few stories about things that took place over the forty years he’s been around.

  • Instead of calling himself The Chicken, to avoid more legal issues with KGB, “Mallard Smith” was suggested as a possible name change.
  • The Grand Hatching history
    • Talked then-Padres President Ballard Smith into paying him $1.50 for every head over 18,000 in the ballpark that night.  At the time, the Padres had an average attendance of around 14,000 a game.
    • The styrofoam egg that he had custom-made to “hatch” out of was stolen after a game one night.  Rumors circulated that The Chicken had arranged the “theft” to drum up publicity.  Turned out it was just a couple of drunk guys, who happily returned the egg for a case of beer and tickets.
    • When all was said and done, The Chicken had a check made out to him for approximately $44,000.
  • Nick Swisher was one of the baby chicks in The Chicken’s act, once upon a time.
  • Used to travel 250 days a year max.
  • While The Chicken is not quite ready to retire, he “can see it from here.”
  • Padres have offered to have him for some promotional stuff from time to time but not for a full game:  “They want to be more serious at this time.”  This answer got a good chuckle from everyone in attendance, no doubt thanks to the drafting of Johnny Manziel.

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