This week is Fan Fest preview/reminisce week here. I’d like to regale you with my favorite stories about the event … except I can’t, because I’ve never actually been to Friar Fest.
Ut Oh. Finding something to write about just got that much harder.
I thought about detailing how long I’ve been a Padres fan, some of the fun moments I’ve experienced at the ball park, to validate my bona fides. It’s a long list; maybe I’ll tackle it someday. However whenever I get to thinking about the Padres, I find myself fishing around for that one moment – that one super cool baseball moment – that’s burned into all our memories, that everybody can relate to. Do the Padres even have one like that?
For example. Insufferable Red Sox fans spend a lot of time talking about the 2004 playoffs, specifically Dave Roberts’ steal of second base. Seattle fans can rally around Ken Griffey Jr’s mad dash home to win Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS. Cardinal fans get all giddy remembering David Freese’s triple to tie Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. What have we got? Garvey’s HR in 1984? That was great, but Ol’ Steve’s remembered as a Dodger by most around these parts. Maybe Kurt Bevacqua’s 3-run shot in Game 2 of the World Series that year is the one. Maybe something more recent. Maybe you could share your thoughts in the comments.
When I try to come up with that one moment, I always return to the eighth inning of Game 3 of the 1996 NLDS. Partially because I was there. But mostly because of Ken Caminiti. That, of course, was Cammy’s greatest year. He seemingly could do anything. He hit 2 home runs in a game in Monterrey Mexico after receiving an IV and eating a Snickers bar. In this particular game, Ken had already homered to give the Padres an early 3-1 lead, but the Cardinals had fought back, and led 5-4 late. Caminiti leads off the eighth against Rick Honeycutt.
The Murph was packed that night, one of the few times I went to a game there where it was full. As Caminiti walked to the plate you could feel the buzz, the electricity in the stands. It wasn’t a tense ‘hey we’re going to lose this game’ buzz we’ve kind of gotten used to the last 5 years – not even close. It was a ‘Cammy’s going to hit it out here’ buzz. I’m dead serious. Fifty-three thousand plus filled the stands that October night, and other than St Louis Cardinals wifes/girlfriends/mistresses, every one of us knew Ken Caminiti was about to tie the game up.
Caminiti fell behind 0-1, then rocketed the next pitch towards the right-center field seats. There was no doubt that ball was leaving the building. The sound that erupted from those of us watching might have helped push it out, but that ball didn’t need it. Tie game. The stands dissolved into a mass of delirious fans yelling, laughing, hi-fiving, spilling beer everywhere – it was beautiful. No one sat down while the new Cardinal pitcher warmed up, and we didn’t quiet down, either.
I’ll skip the rest of that game. Once it was over, the Padres came back onto the field to thank the fans – led by Caminiti.
I know – in the three examples I mentioned above, those teams went on to win those games. Caminiti’s feat didn’t do that for San Diego on this night. Doesn’t matter to me. It remains one of my favorite Padres memories.