In an attempt to answer our leader's call to create more content for the blog, I am going to share with you a posting on how I got into baseball.
So anyhow, I am at the age now where my childhood is more of a collection of distant memories and emotions; both terrible and terribly wonderful. I think this is great! I can embellish these memories into something interesting to read (At least I hope so. So enjoy these thoughts on baseball, and the Padres.)
One such memory is one many of you also remember: The Ice Cream Truck.
There was no one sound of my childhood that could drive me into an adrenaline driven, batshit crazy frenzy, like the Ice Cream Truck. It did not matter what I was doing: watching TV or taking a poop, I would stop what I am doing and sprint like an Olympic Hurdler through my house and front lawn, through traffic (that was thankfully light on my neighborhood street) to chase down that glorious Ice Cream truck.
I was a skinny short kid, and I actually had little to no interest in the delectable frozen treats in that square box of joy. No. All I wanted was a waxy pack of baseball cards.
My desire for these packs of cards stemmed from the excitement of not knowing what I was going to get. I remember getting so pissed when I wouldn't get a Padre. I wanted the whole team. I was an organized kid back in the day. I would collect the "checklist cards" and attempt to collect whole teams. I would meticulously check off each card as I got them.
Honestly though, the only team I cared about was the Padres. Their brown and yellow uniforms sparked a civic pride in me that really knew no end. My favorite players were Tony Gwynn and Eric Show. I loved getting their cards. i loved Eric Show because the guy was a strike out master. I remember the first newspaper article I ever read was a sports article of Eric Show striking out 9 early in the 1985 season on his way to a big win.
I also played one of those stat-o-matic like games with my cousin and uncle. We would put together teams from baseball cards and roll dice to get outcomes. I had an all Padres and Pirates team. (Loved their uniforms too).
My earliest memories as a kid were: watching the Wizard of Oz through the mesh of a baby gate, standing insanely close to the tv and getting started as people went crazy after Steve Garvey's homerun (I was 4 and my family's yells started the crap out of me), and praying with my mother.
When I was 9 my parents divorced and my mom could not afford for us to do much. Thankfully one of her managers was a full-season ticket holder, and would give my mom tickets to go to games, for free. This meant we normally went to sparsely attended games in the middle of the week in the early 90's. He had great field level seats so we could see so much, we had a great record when I went to games.
I didn't watch much baseball in middle school mostly due to my animosity towards not being able to play anymore. My mom could not afford it and I was not a good hitter, and none of the coaches wanted to let me try pitching (which is what I really wanted to do) I was a good defender though (and still am in my softball leagues I play in.)
1996 and 1998 sparked me out of my 3 year baseball indifference. The product on the field was good, and The Gwynn was in the middle of his Ted Williams inspired hitting Renaissance. Plus we had a guy who would become my favorite pitcher: Andy Ashby. I think what I liked most about Ashby was that, when he was on, he was an ace of aces, and when he sucked he was batting practice; but he always gave 110%. How could you tell he was giving all he got? The guy sweat like no human being ever should. He must have been dehydrated constantly. From the 2nd inning on the guy was wiping his face like he just got out of the shower. No one sweats like that unless they are giving everything they got.
I remember watching with wild dismay as Moses Alou broke Hoffy's streak and holding back tears.
I hated the Nevin / Klesko years. Period.
What will now be known, most likely, as the Adrian years have been perhaps my favorite. Bud Black and the Kids of Scrap (Headley, Venable, Hundley, Blanks) pitching and defense are so fun to watch and I cannot get enough.
So when I watched the DVR'd Opening Day events, I have to say I was touched, seeing all those generations of Padres wearing the uniform of their day. Whatever anyone says, with the exception of the Nevin / Klesko years the Padres have a proud tradition of putting on the field some genuinely likable guys who played baseball as hard as their talent levels allowed them too, and have brought us great memories.
Opening Day DVR was the first time I could see these New Padres, and I have to say I like what I see. O-Dawg, Bartlett, and Maybin make us incredibly solid up the middle; Cantu seems to be a great professional hitter; Ludwick finally seems comfortable; Hundley is taking a leadership role; Venable seems to know he is a big leaguer and not auditioning anymore.
We are in for a very enjoyable season.