The San Diego Padres Baseball became a Major League baseball team in 1969. At that time, they started their Spring Training in Yuma, Arizona, a dusty town 170 Miles due east of San Diego, just east of the Arizona-California border formed by the Colorado River. Yuma is also just north of the border with (and , actually depending where in Yuma, southeast of ) Mexico. The club stopped calling Yuma home every February and March after the 1993 Season. One player on that team was Dave Staton. Fast Forward 19 Years. Padres baseball (in the form of a blog) made the decision to once again call Yuma home. At least for a week. They did so by finding the Jersey of Mr. Staton at Fan Fest, and sending that Jersey to Yuma once again. On Thursday, February 24th, a package arrived at the home of Nater Tater, and was subsequently delivered to him at work, which happened to be the press box of Desert Sun Stadium- The original spring home of the San Diego Padres Baseball
The Package itself was a non-descript shipping envelope, no return address, just simply "Gaslamp Ball." I suppose it was a good thing that I gave a working address and that the USPS was competent. Or perhaps it was a sinister plan to pay less than the required postage and have it forwarded to me Postage Due. Well Played JBox. Well Played (*okay so it didn't really arrive postage due)
I took a few pictures on a borrowed "stand alone" camera. I was using a basic cell phone with suspect picture quality, and I figured it was my best option. Photos were taken of me opening the package, first putting on the Jersey, and explaining to the Play by Play man, Derek, and Official Scorekeeper, Helen what the hell I was doing putting on a Jersey 2 sizes too small in the middle of an Arizona Winter League Game. Fortunately, I had warned them that it was coming and to brace themselves for a potential stinker. It wasn't TOOOO bad. I took plenty of pictures inside the press box, at home plate, at first base, in both dugouts, and with other Padres fans. One even looked like Ron Paul.
At this point, you might be saying to yourself "Self, Why hasn't Nater Tater posted any of those pictures yet?" To which I answer with 2 things, 1)don't talk to yourself, it gets you committed. At least that's how it happened to me. And B), I offer you this narrative: After a weekend of glorious picture taking, all the way up through the Championship Game of the Arizona Winter League, I had the honor of sitting next to former Padres SS Garry Templeton as he was being interviewed on our play by play broadcast. (and no, Friar Fever, this Time Derek did NOT blow his nose on air. Thanks for listening that once though!) When I had tweeted (with the hashtag #sisterhoodofthetravelingjersey , on my account @BigTaterz1021) that I was sitting next to Templeton, @Gaslampball exhorted me to take a picture (as if it didn't happen). It was then, to my horror, that I realized that I misplaced the Camera. I sent Helen's son Jake to go see if it was in the last few places I was with it, but to no avail. It was gone. I'm not sure what’s worse-- Losing all those pictures, or losing my grandma's camera. Okay, who am I kidding? Losing the pictures was worse. But not all was lost! Go all the way through to the end for an Update!!!
So I missed the chance to take a picture with Tempe, or with James Mays, a player whom in the Championship game started in CF , came on as a relief pitcher in the 4th inning and picked up the win, while also doing a small feat that no Padre has done yet-- Hitting for the Cycle!!! So, as I tweeted that night, A Padre will hit for one this year. It MUST be an Omen right?? I spent some time thinking about our likely candidates- Maybin? Venable? Stauffer? Then it hit me-- Which of our relief pitchers has legit Power. Duh Micah Owings!!! So Mr. Owings, you're on Notice! (oh and if you haven’t done the sporcle name the padres quiz yet, there are 4 free names!)
Now the pressure is really on! (And not just because of the newly discovered information that these stories may be published beyond this site) I have to make up for lost pictures, as well as continue making new Memories!!! Fortunately, I took a picture with Garry Templeton on my extremely basic cellphone, and was able to extract it. I tweeted it but for those that aren't following me (why not) or didn't see the Re-Tweet, I present to you, a photo of Former Padre, and Former All Star SS, and newly named manager of the Yuma Panthers of the North American (Independent) Baseball League
I had also taken several photos around the stadium and clubhouse with my cell phone:
In front of the Press Box By the Padres old Spring Training Dugout:
By the Padres old Spring Training Dugout:
In The Clubhouse washing machine that may or may not have been the same one used in 1993
Hanging in the clubhouse locker room
Posing in the Press Box after Announcing the Championship game at the Arizona Winter League
It was a pleasure and honor to bring the jersey back to its former home, Ray Kroc Complex
But The League Ended Monday night, and the Midnight at the Oasis Car Show was rolling in, so it was time to Go Explore Yuma and see things that even I have not seen before
Oh, At this point I should mention, after losing my camera and having a "craptastic" phone in general, I was fortunate enough to get a new smartphone. "I" Really like it and with the help of an amateur photographer (my grandma) We stopped by several historically significant sites:
The Yuma Quartermaster Depot and Yuma Crossing State Park made it possible for the US Army (as well as civilians) to cross into California
So in this following map, find San Diego- I hope you know where that is. Now follow the line that heads east until it hits a star. Its the second north-south route that hits the east-west leading out of San Diego. Theres Yuma.
Hey, What has two thumbs (no, not Jonathan HolmesJ) no brains, and gives a thumbs up to this project?
Adjacent to the Crossing Park is what we call Pivot Point. When the Railroad was built, the track would pivot and allow
trains to turn around after unloading or reloading cargo onto ferry’s across the river ferries to go up and down the river without taking out the train bridge.A refurbished train has been placed at that site
All Aboard the 3:10 to Yuma
Some of you might know of Yuma, Arizona through the movie 3:10 to Yuma. If you are familiar with that movie, you probably have heard of the Yuma Territorial Prison. I have to admit, in all my years living in Yuma, I have not yet been to the Prison. So it was a chance for me to pay a visit
The Prison sits atop a hill overlooking the Colorado River. In 1914 the Ocean to Ocean Highway Bridge was built. It is seen in the back ground of this picture, as well as the Fort Yuma mission. Also behind me and not pictured is Paradise Casino
Oh No!!! I’ve been locked up!!! How will I get the Jersey on to the rest of GLB? Who will carry on the legacy of the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Jersey"? Could I really fail so easily?
Nah, I’m just in the entrance
Of course, no prison would be complete without a guard tower
According to my Grandma, the Prison Guard Tower (after the Prison was closed) was used for dances. Yuma’s first public High School met on the grounds of the prison, from which their nickname, Criminals, derives from. But I don’t care about that. I went to Kofa High School, and forever will be a King! (Kofa derives its name from the King Of Arizona Mine company in a nearby mountain range that stamped their cargo KOFA) I digress, back to the project at hand.
After the visit to some of Yuma’s Historical Sites, it was time to go unwind and have some fun. I partook in some miniature golfing, and go-karting.
Praying for the Hole in One--- NOT TEBOWING!!!!!!
AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! THE OCEAN TO OCEAN HIGHWAY BRIDGE IS COLLAPSING!!!!
Speaking of Bridges, most of us at Gaslampball are familiar with the "Bridge to Nowhere." Just north of Yuma lies its own "Bridge to Nowhere" officially the McPhaul Bridge. The design, apparently, is what the Golden Gate is modeled upon.
Now you don’t think I was behaving the whole time did you? Heck no!!
On Sunday Nights, I play Cards with my family and friends. One of our friends brought a friend who is a fan of those people that play in the Latrine. Notice I do not call him a friend of mine. He saw me wearing the Padres jersey, and gave me crap the whole night. I was the dealer for our card game, and when I dealt his chips, he asked for some bright blue ones to match the blue that the bums wear. Before I gave him those chips, I just rubbed them up against the logo. Needless to say, He lost the game—And I won!!! (unless you’re from the IRS- In which case, we were playing for sizzler coupons)
The winnings weren’t much so I had to go rob a bank- and getaway!!!
Friday night was my last night with the Jersey. I made a patch celebrating Arizona’s centennial anniversary and attached it to the jersey using commemorative pins from Yuma Crossing, Yuma Territorial Prison, and City of Yuma Parks & Recreation. I also signed the patch with my GLB name, Nater Tater, and the dates that I had the jersey (2/24-3/3). I made a special video that I will post at the end of this post, but it involves a ball given to me in the spring of 1984 when I was 3 years old
All in all I had a great time sharing the story with people that asked about the Jersey. I hope my fan post gave some insight into my week, and was at least semi-interesting. In this project, we also were to chronicle not only what we did, but how it affected us on a personal level. I’m not totally sure I can answer that. I know that it gave me a chance to see the significance of my town, and gave me more pride in it. Many people mock Yuma. I’ve been guilty of doing it to. But it’s my town.
I also got a chance to work on communicating on a one on one level with perfect strangers as I would tell them about the adventures. Put me behind a microphone or on stage (or in an internet forum) I can Speak all day with great confidence. Put me with someone on a one on one case I get nervous and unsure of myself. Going up to complete strangers and talking is out of my comfort zone. I also told the story to a local newspaper reporter (article online here, in Mondays Print Edition) Meeting 4 people at a restaurant for breakfast as I handed off the Jersey? Now we are pushing it! But The Jersey was passed on to RJsFro, appropriately, at a breakfast. Joining us were also AvengingJM, and Geoff from Ducksnorts. I want to thank them for having me at their table. While we were eating, the news broke that Cameron Maybin was going to be signed to a long term deal. How cool is that, to have good Padres news break during a meeting of Padres fans?I also learned that Geoff really knows his stuff. I had mentioned that at dinner on Thursday night, my host was the nephew of a former Padre, whom incidentally was a teammate of Dave Staton. When I mentioned the players’ name, Geoff immediately recognized the name Guillermo Velasquez and before I could get the position or when Velasquez played, Geoff could tell me he played 1B in the early 90s.
Well, it was time for me to pass the Jersey on. It is now in the possession of RJsFro.
I also now know the feeling Jbox had when he first shipped it to me; the feeling that I may never see it again. I trust that I will though. I’m excited to see where the jersey will go, what will be added to it, what people will do with it, who they will meet, what baseball feats will happen on their time with it. I’m slightly worried about how this may devolve, but I feel this truly is the beginning of something special. Or something dumb. It’s one of the two!
So until the Jersey makes it back home (and unlike Matt Holiday, the jersey touches the plate)
*UPDATE* After the article appeared in the Yuma Sun, the reporter called me to let me know someone wanted to talk to me about the story. When I called the gentleman, he Identified himself as a cousin of Staton, and wanted to know about the project. I gave him the brief background and directed him to this site. I also asked a bit about what Staton did after the Padres. According to the cousin, Staton's last baseball stop was in New Orleans (to the best of his recollection). He chose to walk away from the game to spend time with his family, and joined the California Highway Patrol. The Cousin says it has been some time since he has spoken with Staton, but through other Relatives (whom he is also passing this story along to) should be able to get in contact with him. I asked the cousin if he does get a hold of Staton, to contact JBox, in the hopes that the Jersey could be reunited with him in some fashion. The cousin seemed really touched that after all this time, a story would be written about him, even if connected through a project such as this. I wish I had known that the cousin was in Yuma while I had the Jersey- I would have made an effort to spend time with him and have a picture taken with him too. The chance to hear how proud he was was perhaps the highlight of this adventure.
SO GUESS WHAT??? THE CAMERA WAS FOUND!!!! So I thought I'd share a few more from my week with the Jersey! I hope you Enjoy!
Taking it back to the beginnings, I received the package containing the Jersey at Desert Sun Stadium. It was time to open the Package, and Reveal the Jersey
So My first reaction, other than the smell (not as bad as I anticipated, but, I was first) was to try it on
Don't mind Derek in the background. Yes he's in violation of the MLB Dress code for Press Box personnel, but what can you expect on a warm day in Yuma, in independent league baseball, from a MARINER FAN!!!
We had a break between games, so it was time to let the Jersey explore its new/old home, from Press Row, The Main concourse , with a fan from the Padres Yuma Spring Training Days, The Padres old Dugout, and with the representative for Jose Canseco
That is Jose Melendez,who was my boss and pretty good dude. Alot of patience. I guess you have to have it to deal with Canseco on a daily basis , right? In the background, the old Yuma Scorpions Logo.
I also decided to take first base, as Staton Did once upon a time, at the base of the Yuma Water Tower
And Let the Jersey Touch Home, and First base (sorry, it didn't get to second base, even though "second base is the bizness")
It was time to get back to work...Now Batting, the First Baseman, Number 31, Dave STAY-ton
I hope you enjoyed some of the "Lost" Photos. Until Next time, from Yuma , at Desert Sun Stadium at Ray Kroc Complex
This is Nater Tater logging out-- Go Padres!!!