My run of attending 15 straight Opening Day/Home Opener games has sadly come to a merciful end. I tried to do my best Cal Ripken Jr. impersonation, obviously the streak ended way too soon, thanks to work.
My Opening Day streak started in that magical year of 1998, at the time, I had no idea the Padres were World Series bound, and boy what a ride that was.
Attending Opening Day 15 straight years provided me with many wonderful Opening Day memories.
Some that come to mind are seeing the Padres win in extra innings on Opening Day of 1998 to set the tone for that whole season. Witnessing Mike Piazza launch a home run in his first ever swing as a Padre. And applauding Eric Young make an amazing catch to rob a home run, only to land on his shoulder and injure himself. Although Young got hurt, it was a damn good catch.
But my greatest Opening Day memory is not a come from behind win, or a spectacular play. My greatest Opening Day memory came in the 1999 or 2000 seasons; I can’t exactly remember the years.
Anyway, the Padres used to do this cool thing on Opening Day at Qualcomm stadium where the players would welcome fans into the ballpark passing out the Opening Day hats.
I had thought this was the neatest idea ever. I got to meet my favorite Padre and get a hat from him. How awesome is that! I remember the first year; I got my hat from Wiki Gonzalez. He was a nice dude. He posed for a picture with me. Just the fact that I got a picture with an actual big league ball player, blew my mind.
The second year I got my hat from Mr. Tony Gwynn. This was the only time I’ve personally met my baseball hero.
He shook my hand and gave me my hat. There was some dialogue in between, but can’t really remember what was said as I was star struck.
The line to meet Tony was long, but surprisingly fast. Until this day, I do not remember the outcome of those games or anything for that matter all I know is that I met Wiki Gonzalez and Tony Gwynn. Just think, some day down the line I can tell my kids I met Tony Gwynn, maybe I’ll admit I met Wiki Gonzalez too.