I have no vivid memory of my first baseball game. I’ve been a fan of baseball and the Padres for as long as I can remember having cognitive thought. But I couldn’t tell you the first game I went to. Sure, I could have simply made up a story and really, how would any of you know the difference? But I’d be lying to myself. The truth is, I’m insanely jealous of those that can remember with such precision and clarity the first game they went to. Some know the exact day, who pitched, moments that happened in that particular game, the temperature and how bad parking was (or wasn’t). But not me.
I have plenty of great memories as a kid going to Padres games. Hundreds probably. I remember the sensation of walking through the tunnel and seeing the field from our section for the first time that day. I still love that experience of laying eyes on the field when you first arrive. But I don’t remember the first one. But I’ll always remember May 4, 2013.
As many (ok, perhaps some) may know I became a father this year to a little girl named Penelope. As I write this she is sitting with her mom next to me, laughing at nothing but everything at the same time. It’s quite a wonder but I’ll spare you the “my baby is amazing and wonderful” silliness.
One of the great things about being a parent and one of the things I looked forward to that didn’t terrify me to my core was being able to share the world with her. To her, everything is new. She’s never seen an animal (our cat notwithstanding) or been to the ocean. And we’ll get to show her these things that we take for granted and experience them anew through her. That’s a pretty cool experience.
But the thing I looked forward to the most was taking her to her first Padres game. Like any rookie, we didn’t just throw her out into Petco Park without a bit of seasoning. First, we watched tape. As her entire ability to move is reliant on either my wife or me moving her, she was basically held captive while I enjoyed the fruits of our MLB.tv package. She seemed to enjoy it.
Next step, a minor league stop. Let’s see how she handles live pitching and hitting at the Class-A level. Living in Rancho Cucamonga we have the Dodgers Class-A affiliate Quakes nearby. The Storm were making a trip to The Epicenter which seemed an ideal opportunity to test out our hotshot rookie. After 8 solid innings of no crying and not being hit by a batted ball, we knew it was time.
Penelope was getting the call to the Show.
First, the game. What to pick? Well, the yearly beach towel day is always a promotion I enjoy going to anyway and fell on a Saturday which has the earlier start time of 5:35pm. Perfect.
Next, the seats? As I am both paranoid of being too low (batted balls) or too high (falling) with her we choose the Park at the Park. Wisely, and thanks to the help of the Padres Twitter family and their advice, we arrived more than an hour early to stake our ground. High on the hill, view of the field and the screen. Well within smell range of the Phil’s BBQ grill. Perfect.
The weather? Not perfect. Cooler and windier than we had hoped for her rookie debut. But she’s a gamer. A little wind and a chill in the air isn’t keeping our rookie down. Bundled up (thanks beach towel giveaway!) she powered through 9 strong innings of ultimately lackluster baseball (naturally the Padres go 5-1 on their homestand and we choose the 1).
The game was underwhelming as Clayton Richard struggled through 3.2 IP giving up 7 runs (5ER) and the Padres fell 8-1. But that couldn’t have mattered less. Because there I was, drinking a Sculpin IPA, eating some pork belly nachos, and taking my daughter to her first baseball game.
She will have no memory of this day other than what I tell her. She very possibly could never care about sports, or baseball and this whole event could be a completely insignificant event that her dad won’t stop talking about.
But it will always be significant to me.
You can find my nonsense at Padres Public every Friday. And follow me on Twitter @LeftCoastBias for 140 characters worth of nonsense on a variety of subjects ranging from Padres to Pearl Jam to PGA Golf. And I like alliteration.