Padres 2014 FanFest: Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends, Once More

The 2014 Padres FanFest has come and gone. We can now consider the season underway.

I love FanFest. Always have. Even back in the days of Jack Murphy Stadium, when it was more or less just a glorified baseball card show, I loved it. Of course, it has come a long way since those days.

Join me, will you, for a rather long look at my day on Saturday.

The Line

I arrived at 8am and found Richard (@gdarklighter) with his mom and dad in the Member Early Access line. I had to give his mom a little grief for being excited about Eric Owens signing autographs. She had the “Dirty Shirt” the Padres had given away in 2000. Every once in a while, I see someone wearing that shirt. I’ve never had one, unfortunately. Otherwise I might have grabbed a voucher for that session. Instead, I was concentrating on getting to the Garage Sale early. The gates opened and we were all on our way.

On my way towards the Garage Sale, I found Pad Squad Alicia, who started yelling something at me. Probably because I used to yell “ALICIA!” every time I saw her at a game, making her jump on more than one occasion. I paused to chat with her and another Pad Squadder whose name escapes me. Alicia asked me if I had any El Paso Chihuahuas gear yet. I pointed to my head, where my Swingin’ Chihuahua hat sat, plain as day. Sometimes, I really worry about those Pad Squad folks.

Garage Sale

The Garage Sale was a disappoint for me. There was the usual ton of Tony Hawk bobbleheads for $5. No throwback gear, other than jerseys and pants. All the hats were either ugly or too small for my huge melon. I saw Rick (@RJsFro) looking around. Turns out he was having the same thought as myself, which was that this wasn’t the best Garage Sale. He had found a refrigerator magnet for his fiance, and that was it. He joked that she was getting more than he was at the Garage Sale for the first time in history.

One thing they did have were beanies. The most confusing beanies I’ve ever seen.

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Blue beanies with the SD logo on them…and a yellow stripe?
What’s with the Local NFL Team sneaking their crap in here?

As we stood there talking to Daniel (@FriarDanny), who was volunteering at the Garage Sale later in the day, along came Luigi (@LuigiPadreFan33) carrying what turned out to be a large Clayton Richard banner. This thing was huge, and Luigi doesn’t drive, so I asked him if he planned on carrying that around with him all day before taking the trolley back home.

“Of course,” he exclaimed with childlike glee.

Daniel had the best line of the day though: “Are you going to put that up over your bed? Better than a mirror on the ceiling.”

The Field

Having struck out at the Garage Sale, I decided to make my way to the field and see what else FanFest had in store for me.

As I headed towards the Social Media Lounge in Club 336, I had to pass by the Fox Sports San Diego booth. As I approached, I noticed Jbox from Gaslamp Ball with the Fox Sports San Diego Girls doing something with the Traveling Jersey and the BaseBug. Jbox had his back to me, so I figured this was the perfect time to strike and take out Gaslamp Ball once and for all surprise him. He wasn’t all that surprised.

After talking with the FSSD Girls for a few minutes, I made my way to Club 336, which it turns out is the old standing room only area only accessible from the Padres Store. The Padres had made it into a suite a couple of years ago that in 2012 I had the good fortune of sitting in. The Padres once again have changed it from a suite to a multimedia lounge/studio for the new Padres Social Hour “pre-pregame” show set to debut this season. For FanFest the Padres were giving out water bottles or t-shirts for any fan who came by who had the MLB At The Ballpark app on their smartphone. I grabbed a t-shirt, which apparently was left over from last year’s Social Media Night.

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I stepped back outside to the field to talk to Matt (@matthewverygood), who had a voucher for one of the Chris Denorfia autograph sessions. Matt told me he was going to try to get Denorfia to add #Norf to his autograph on a ball. I didn’t tell him this at the time, but if anyone was going to be able to get Denorfia to do it, it was going to be Matt.

After one more quick stop at Club 336, I decided to browse a little in the Padres Store. Turns out they have an entire corner right inside the Palm Plaza door dedicated to just throwback items.

Unfortunately, the biggest hat size they had was 7 3/4. I need an 8. Looks like I either need to lose more weight or I’m just stuck ordering my hats online.

Park at the Park

At this point, I noticed that Dani (@DaniKDub) had checked in on Foursquare. I’ve wanted to meet her and her 3-year old son, Anthony, for a while. He’s a big fan of the San Diego Zoo, like me. He’s a big fan of the Padres, like me. And he was born in February, like me. Quite frankly, it’s kind of scary how alike we are. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m very immature or if it’s just coincidence. At least I know someone who might take over writing this blog in about 18 years.

But, I digress. I met up with them at the KidsFest in the Park at the Park. Anthony had just gotten his face painted as a tiger and was carrying a balloon airplane, which he immediately wanted to show me. Keep in mind, I’ve never met this kid at all. He said something about a dragon. Pretty sure he wanted me to get my face painted like a dragon. But I convinced him to just give me five, up high, down low, with a forearm bump, and a fist bump. I then taught him how to do fist bump fireworks. Granted, he probably forgot all of this as soon as he saw the stilt-walker later. He’s three, after all.

After leaving Dani and Anthony, I headed over towards the Mighty 1090 broadcast center (aka the EZ-UP tent) in the Beach. On the way there, I took a picture of the video board on the back of the Batter’s Eye. Earlier in the week, Mike Dee told Ben Higgins and Chris Ello on XTRA Sports 1360 that that video board had been upgraded.

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Apparently he meant it was about to be upgraded, because that is the same crappy-looking video board still on the back. During the Ownership Forum, Ron Fowler revealed a plan to set aside $10 million a year for five years for maintenance and improvement of the ballpark. Apparently the new one has been ordered and should be installed by Opening Day. Or Opening Night. One of those.

John “The Coach” Kentera was interviewing Casey Kelly when I arrived. I looked around to see if Krissy (@krissysd) was anywhere around stalking Kelly. She wasn’t. Craig Elsten was co-hosting and saw me in my Chihuahuas hat. Right after Kelly finished his interview, during the commercial break, Craig and I talked a bit about FanFest and the Padres, off-air of course. Craig tried to get me to show up to the Sockers’ season finale on Sunday. He even tried to bribe me with offered me free tickets. I told him I would tweet him. I’m sending that tweet soon, Craig. I swear!*

*No, I’m not. I don’t like soccer. At all. But you keep trying, Craig. I might surprise you one day. Might. Not likely, but might.

I left the Beach and headed up to meet up with fellow Padres Public members Rick, Sac Bunt Melvin, and Woe Doctor, along with Jbox. They were all hanging out on the stairway next to the Ballast Point Beer Garden that overlooks the bullpens. We stood at the top of the stairs, effectively blocking access to anyone and everyone. If people didn’t know that we basically own the Ballast Point Beer Garden, they do now (The password is Victory At Sea, by the way.).

The Afterparty

It was just about time for our unofficial Padres Public meetup at Southpaw Social Club, so we said goodbye to Jbox and headed outside the confines of Petco Park. The next few hours are kind of a blur, because Southpaw had Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale as their Beer of the Month for only $3 a pint.

One thing I can confirm though is pictured:

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That’s right. Matt convinced Denorfia to add #Norf to his signature. How? He simply asked him. Yes, he had to explain briefly about how Norf was the nickname given to him on Twitter, and that if he didn’t want to Matt would understand. Matt said Denorfia gave him a slightly disapproving look but still added #Norf.

When I first came up with the idea of challenging you all to get Denorfia to sign something using #Norf, two things came to mind:

  1. No one would have the guts to ask.
  2. Even if someone worked up the courage, Denorfia would never do it. He’s not on Twitter, so he has no idea where Norf came from. And his actual nickname is Deno, so why would he?

Matt is now my hero.

Despite my disappointment in the Garage Sale, I had a great time at FanFest, as usual. And if the Padres can just stay relatively healthy, this should be a fun season.

GO PADRES!

*****

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