I'm not from San Diego. I wasn't born here. In fact, I'd never been to San Diego until the day I moved here seven years ago. That doesn't make me unique. As anyone who lives here can tell you, there are a lot of transplants in San Diego.
I was born in Boston. I grew up in Connecticut. I have been a Red Sox fan since I was old enough to crap in my diapers. That makes me one of very, very many "locals" who have an outside rooting interest when it comes to baseball.
A college friend of mine from New York, who also has been living in San Diego for the past several years, has always been my go to guy whenever the Sox and Yanks go head-to-head. We used to watch the games together in college and antagonize each other to the point of blind rage. It was fun.
Now that we're both in San Diego, we still try to make it a point to get together and watch at least a few of the Sox-Yanks matchups each season. It was during one of these recent matchups that certain things were said that can never be taken back.
"You know when I was back in New York recently," he said, "I noticed all these people wearing Yankees hats and the NY logo was on everything, and... well... it was kind of annoying."
"Huh," said I.
"I mean, I'll always love the Yankees," he said, "But it just seemed like people were wearing all that stuff like it was just about representing the city and it wasn't really about the team, and I was kind of annoyed seeing all of this Yankees stuff. I even stopped in the Yankees shop in the airport and just had no interest in buying a new Yankees shirt or anything... and I had money in my pocket."
"I... uhh, I know what you mean," I said.
"I think I'm just like... well, I think I'm becoming like a real Padres fan," he said. It was like he had just come out of the closet. He laid it out on the line and waited to see how I'd react.
"I know exactly how you feel," I replied. "I've been watching almost every Padres game for the past seven years. I love going to Petco. When I check the box scores, I check the Padres before I even check the Sox score. I... well, I'm even a commenter on Gaslamp Ball."
The tension left the room. The truth had been laid out there. We were coming to terms with our Padres fandom. Sure, we decided that there would always be a place in our hearts for our respective hometown teams, but things were different now.
It was during this conversation that he told me of an idea he had that I believe Tom Garfinkel needs to wrap his eyes and ears around.
Fan Conversion Day
That's right. Fan Conversion Day. It'll be like a baptism, right there in Petco Park. Here's the basic premise:
There must be thousands of fans just like us, who came to San Diego from other cities, brought their rooting interests with them, but have gotten themselves involved in a secret love affair with the hometown team.
Well, this is their chance to stop living a double life, and come out into the light and bask in the warmth of Padres fandom.
On Fan Conversion Day, fans come down to Petco Park bearing an article of clothing, an old autograph, a poster, a license plate frame, or any other piece of memorabilia from their former hometown team. Fans who are ready to convert their allegiances will be welcomed down onto the field (or maybe Park at the Park?), will be asked to cast their memorabilia into a big pile and will be sworn in as brand new Padres fans. They'll be rewarded with a new Padres cap or t-shirt, and a certificate officially declaring their new allegiance.
Maybe we could even get Tony the Gwynn to be the officiant for the ceremony. Have all the newly converted fans sit in a certain section and acknowledge them during the game. Give them a coupon for a discounted stadium tour so they can learn more about their new team.
The possibilities are endless. Make it happen, Tom. I'll be at the front of the line.