Last week I made my first ever trip to Spring Training! I had an amazing time binging on baseball for four days while trying to stay cool in Arizona. My first day, Sunday, consisted of a Padres game at Peoria Sports Complex, a surprise run-in with a couple of players, and some yummy Italian food. And the next few days were not too shabby either.
Monday would be a night game, so my boyfriend and I had the whole day to explore beforehand. Our first stop was back at Peoria Sports Complex to get tickets for that night, including one for our dog. Then we walked around the team store for a bit in search of souvenirs. I got a baseball with the 2017 Cactus League logo, and a Team USA World Baseball Classic tshirt that was on sale.
Then we headed over to the Padres practice fields to see if there was any action going on. The MLB players were nowhere to be seen, assumably because their game wasn't until that evening. But the minor leaguers were having batting practice on two of the fields. We sat on the bleachers watching them for a little while before they finished up and headed back to the clubhouse.
I love the sound of cleats in the morning. ⚾ pic.twitter.com/yUGLmjTquo— Jodes Paranal (@jodes0405) March 20, 2017
From there we headed to Tempe to meet up with family. We grabbed a bite to eat and walked around Tempe Marketplace, an outdoor mall, for a bit while figuring out what to do next. We decided to drive over to a couple of nearby Spring Training facilities to see if there was anything going on.
Our first stop was Sloan Park, the Cubs' facility, in Mesa. We had hoped that even if there wasn't a game going on that afternoon, there would be some players on the practice fields or something, but the place was pretty empty when we got there so we just did a drive-by and then started driving over to Hohokam Stadium, the Athletics' complex, also in Mesa. It was the same deal - no game there that afternoon and no practices or other action that we could see. So we headed back to Phoenix for a couple of hours of rest before that night's game.
A couple of hours before the game, my boyfriend and his sister and I headed to Peoria so we could get there soon after the gates opened and get a good spot on the lawn. While I saved our spot, my boyfriend and his sister wandered the stadium. They went to see if they could get some autographs, and successfully got Travis Jankowski and Wil Myers to autograph her glove. My boyfriend texted me to tell me the exciting news, and also to let me know that Myers nodded at him, having recognized him from Chipotle the day before.
The game that night was awesome. They had sectioned off a portion of the lawn for those who brought their dogs to the game, and we got a great spot right in front. They also provided water for the pups, and unlike the Padres' Dog Days at Petco Park, which we've attended before, people were allowed to walk around the stadium with their dogs rather than having to stay confined on the lawn the whole time. That was really helpful when the dogs got restless. They also had a vendor selling treats and toys, and a Humane Society truck was on-site with dogs that were available for adoption, one of which helped out with the ceremonial first pitch that night by bringing the ball to the mound.
Our pup had an amazing time, by the way.
As for the game itself, the Padres ended up winning on a 9th-inning walkoff after coming back from a 2-0 deficit. And who better to lead the Padres to victory with the go-ahead solo shot than Christian Bethancourt, who we had seen pitch the day before and came in to play left field that night?
On our way home, we grabbed some Taco Bell, because apparently a theme of this trip was eating fake Mexican food after games. We had so much fun that night that we will likely plan all of our future trips around their annual "Bow Wow Pow Wow" and make it a tradition every year.