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Attending the Tony Gwynn Opener has become my favorite tradition

The second home game of the season was always Gwynn's favorite.

Memorial Tribute To Tony Gwynn Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images

Opening Day (and even moreso the home opener) is such a magical day for baseball fans, especially those who can make it out to the ballpark. Seeing old baseball friends and watching your favorite team take the field for the first time after a long offseason - there's nothing like it. But there's another day that holds a special meaning for Padres fans. It's the day after the home opener, a day that has come to be known by many as Tony Gwynn Opening Day, or the Tony Gwynn Opener.

Gwynn loved the day after the home opener. As he once told Tom Krasovic (of the San Diego Union-Tribune), the home opener was always a sellout crowd, but the next day you found out who the real fans were. Not to diminish the efforts of those who take time out of their schedules, often in the middle of the day on a weekday, to celebrate at the ballpark on Opening Day every year, but it's easy to see where Gwynn was coming from.

This idea first came to my attention from (former) fellow Padres blogger Avenging Jack Murphy. Ever since he wrote about it on his blog I've tried to make it a priority every year to attend the Tony Gwynn Opener. Not only does it appeal to me because of the slightly smaller crowds and usually cheaper / more available tickets, but I like the idea of Tony Gwynn thinking of me as a "real fan." Also, as much as I love the excitement and hype of Opening Day itself, in my experience the Tony Gwynn Opener is always much more mellow and it allows me to just sit, relax, and enjoy the game.

So even though I'm bummed I couldn't make it to Opening Day at Petco Park yesterday, I'll be there tonight ready to cheer on Joey Fuego and the rest of the team to what will hopefully be the first of many Padres victories this season. Hope to see some of you out there!