This past Saturday the Padres hosted the SD Social Summit, in which a number of social media users who applied were selected and invited to Petco Park for an afternoon of speakers, Q and A sessions, entertainment, and a tour of the recently opened Padres Hall of Fame, capped off by that evening's on-field ceremony inducting Ken Caminiti into the Padres Hall of Fame, then the game against the Phillies. Of course, prior to the event, I had no idea what to expect since I'd never been to one before, due to living on the other side of the country when it was held in years past. All I knew was that I was supposed to show up at the Suite Entrance by Park Blvd. and Imperial Ave. at 1:00pm. When I arrived I was greeted by some familiar faces I know from Twitter and going to games, and we loitered around until the other participants got there and it was time for us to be admitted.
From there we were led upstairs to Club 19, named of course after Tony Gwynn, where the bulk of the event would take place. We were given a bit of time to mingle and settle in before things got started. The likable Mike Janela, the host of Padres Social Hour, was the afternoon's emcee; he made the rounds saying hello before taking his place at the head of the room in front of a window overlooking the Coronado Bridge. He then informed us of the day's schedule, and introduced the first speaker.
Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Wayne Partello was the leadoff batter. He spoke about how numerous ballpark improvements that had been planned over the next couple years were bumped up to accommodate this year's All-Star Game. He also talked about the young talent that was on its way up, as well as the hard work the Padres Productions team has put in, using the example of removing Matt Kemp from in-game videos on very short notice the day he was traded. He then took questions from the audience. Someone asked how players are chosen for the team hall of fame, which then led to someone asking why Rickey Henderson isn't in, since he hit a few milestones in his two stints in Padres navy and orange. This led to Partello asking the floor who we thought should be in. Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez were two that were suggested that should be inducted after they retire. I suggested Eric Show, which led to someone remarking that they were surprised I didn't say Joey Cora.
After Partello spoke, three Padres prospects Skyped in separately. Janela asked them each a number of questions, including ones those of us in attendance submitted via Twitter, using the hashtag #SDSocialSummit. First up was Hunter Renfroe, who has been hitting the cover off the ball all season at AAA El Paso. He was followed by fellow outfielder Michael Gettys, who has been doing the same in a season split between Single-A Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore, and then the team's top choice in this year's draft, Cal Quantrill.
Hunter Renfroe is excited to trade Texas weather for San Diego’s. #SDSocialSummit— Richard (@gdarklighter) August 6, 2016
"See you soon." -Hunter Renfroe #SDSocialSummit— Joe Lanek (@TheThinGwynn) August 6, 2016
Quantrill talking about forming a Canadian Padres gang with Josh Naylor. Wants Tim Horton’s in the Gaslamp. #SDSocialSummit— Richard (@gdarklighter) August 6, 2016
After that concluded, we were treated to the two guests everyone was most excited about. Longtime Padres television broadcaster and fan favorite Mark "Mud" Grant and his new and phenomenal on-air partner Don Orsillo absolutely captivated the room upon entering it. Before they bantered for a bit, we were asked to tweet why we should be chosen to be on either Team Mud or Team Don for a game of "Know Your Broadcaster". I had to think for a moment before it hit me why I should be paired with Grant.
Lo and behold, it worked! I was selected to partner with Mudcat in "Know Your Broadcaster" which was played like The Newlywed Game. Before the game started, Grant told us the story of how Cora ended up catching him that day, remembering the details as though it happened the day before, not 26 years ago. He recalled that Mark Parent was already out of the game, and that Benito Santiago's arm got broken when he was hit by a pitch. He told us how the chest protector hung down so far on the diminutive Cora that it went over his knees.
For those not familiar with the format, we were asked questions with the goal of matching our teammate's response, which they whispered to the team's content director, the very friendly and engaging Nicky Patriarca. As an example, the first question was where their favorite place in the ballpark to eat is. I guessed that Grant's favorite was Phil's BBQ, and was correct. We played three rounds of three questions each; I fell behind 2-1 in the first round, but came back to win comfortably. Even if I hadn't won, it still would have been a joy to interact with someone who has brought me literally thousands of hours of the best entertainment over the years.
Grant and Orsillo are a tough act to follow, plus I was still riding the high of my victory, so I admittedly wasn't completely captivated by the last two speakers. Again, I must emphasize, that's no reflection on either Tom Seidler or Mike Dee. Seidler spoke mostly about the team's military appreciation, as that is in his purview, and emphasized that it was in place and strong before this ownership group stepped in, and they just try to build on what was already the best. He said that they receive requests from teams in all sports in assistance with honoring the military, and that they are glad to do so.
Tom Seidler seems chill. Like your friend's cool dad who acted like he didn't know you were shotgunning beers in his garage. #SDSocialSummit— Joe Lanek (@TheThinGwynn) August 6, 2016
Padres CEO Mike Dee was the final speaker, which some might view as the headliner while others would look at as the number nine hitter; there have been no shortage of strong opinions about him during his tenure. He presented a slideshow, the content of which I was already familiar with, thanks to SD Hat Guy's review of when Dee presented it to season ticket members two days earlier. I'm all in as far as them handing A.J. Preller fistfuls of money to create a youth movement that will pay off in time, as opposed to the usual way of bringing in some faded names and finishing fourth, so he was preaching to the choir.
Dee also took questions, and a number of subjects were broached, including brown uniforms, the recent probe into the team by Major League Baseball, the prospect of keeping Wil Myers long-term, and more.
"Fans value authenticity in the long term,& the brown is authentic." - Mike Dee. Hinting at a paradigm shift?! #SDSocialSummit— Hunter (@Coppocking_bird) August 6, 2016
After Dee spoke, we were taken down to the Padres Hall of Fame, where we were just the second group to see Ken Caminiti's exhibit, following his family who was shown just before us. This was my second visit to the relatively new team hall of fame, as I'd checked it out shortly after the grand opening on July 1 when I was at the park for the All-Star Futures Game. At that point Caminiti's exhibit was still encased in cloth, waiting for this day. We were given a tour by unofficial team historian Bill Center, then lingered a bit until heading back upstairs.
Once we received our Caminiti giveaway jerseys, which were distributed to all fans in attendance, we splintered off to our suites and seats to watch his pregame induction ceremony. It was very moving, complete with video montages, and emceed by legendary voice of the Padres Ted Leitner, who most agree is deserving of his own spot in the hall alongside his dear friend and late broadcast partner Jerry Coleman. Team executive chairman Ron Fowler spoke, followed by Cammy's teammate Trevor Hoffman, and then Cammy's daughter Kendall. It concluded with his walk-up music, the Hendrix version of All Along The Watchtower, and it's possible there was a dry eye in the house, but I wouldn't know.
All three of Caminiti's daughters threw out the ceremonial first pitches, and then the present-day Padres, wearing the uniforms worn in Cammy's heyday, capped off the perfect day with a victory. The day wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of Padres Director of Content Nicky Patriarca and Social Media Manager Maddie Gritsch; I'm very grateful to them as well as everyone else involved who made the day the extremely enjoyable and memorable one it turned out to be.