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Why I’m a fan of the Padres, and always have been

Once a Padre, always a Padre.

I miss Tony Gwynn.

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I’ll go back to the beginning. In the fall of 1984, I was five years old. I knew what baseball was, and I knew that the Padres were San Diego’s team. I remember my family being at our neighbor’s house, watching the game as the Padres clinched the pennant and everyone was going nuts. Then we went to a t-shirt shop up on Fletcher Parkway and we picked out some custom t-shirts, then went next door to the Barbecue Pit to eat while they made our shirts. Mine said “Cub Buster” and had the swingin’ friar holding a bat, beckoning a tiger, saying “Here kitty kitty” while a beaten teddy bear flew over the fence. The Padres were the coolest thing and I was hooked.

My dad worked at Jack Murphy for a couple of years. He worked one of the burger stands, and he could get my sister and me in on occasion. We’d sit in the cheap seats and holler our lungs out the whole game. A few years later as a Boy Scout my mom and I would go on Scout’s night, and my dad and I tried to get to the KGB Sky Show every year. Naturally the 1998 season was a highlight for me, and mom and I went to The Murph to watch Game One of the World Series on the JumboTron with a few thousand other fans. We were on top of the world when Tony hit the homer into the upper deck, then we all came crashing down when Mark Langston delivered strike four to Tino Martinez, who turned it around for a grand slam and crushed any hopes we had for a Padres World Series.

I suppose I grew up loving the team. Tony Gwynn was everywhere, Jerry Coleman was always on the radio, and Ted Leitner was always ranting about the team on Channel 8. From characters like John Kruk and Archi Cianfrocco to exciting young stars like Roberto Alomar and Benito Santiago, the team was always a fun watch, even when they weren’t winning games. As a native San Diegan, it seemed fitting that the team was always the forgotten underdog, forever in the Dodgers’ shadow. I still like that angle, and I still believe that we’ll have our day in the sun.

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