What an amazing place in an even more amazing setting. The HOF is by far the main attraction in the area, along with DoubleDay Field (the birthplace of baseball, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doubleday_Field), but the bucolic city had such an allure, that I found myself just wandering the main street, visiting the many shops and chatting with the locals. It had a “San Juan Bautista” feel (for you Northern Californians), complete with a corner bakery (that had yummy donuts…breakfast of champions). The Hall itself was a shrine to baseball royalty and so well presented. The dioramas and exhibits were first class, and so rich in legend and the game’s past and future. The best part was the “Wall of Fame,” with all of the inductees’ plaques along the wall…wow, if those plaques could talk, the things they would say!
Leave no less than two days to really do the area justice. One complete day for the HOF (a day and a half, if you are the sort of person who likes to read every word of every exhibit), and then another day for to take in a game at Doubleday Field, and to enjoy the city of Cooperstown, especially some fish and chips at Alex & Ika (http://www.tatintarte.com/#/alexandikarestaurant/)…you’ll be glad you did!
Here is a handful of pictures from my trip…hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjHjsaCk).
Given that there are only 30 baseball parks in the league, you may be wondering why I’m on #33. Here’s the scoop…in the time since I visited my first park and present day, I’ve had “do overs.”
In other words, I’ve seen the San Francisco Giants play at “The Stick,” my first park (http://tinyurl.com/codc5m7) and Pac Bell/SBC/AT&T Park (http://tinyurl.com/codc5m7), my 5th park. I have also seen the Padres play at Qualcomm Stadium (http://tinyurl.com/bqz3sav) my 4th stadium, and also at the glorious Petco Park (http://tinyurl.com/6nxktgg), my 25th park. Finally, during my first trip to New York back in 1995, I stumbled upon “old” Yankee Stadium (http://tinyurl.com/cw438pb) my 3rd park, and now – on what was Opening Day of the 2013 season – I’ve seen its current day successor…(New) Yankee Stadium, and I wasn’t disappointed.
It “only” took me 18 years (say that again…18 years) to return, and I had VERY high expectations of what this incarnation of Yankee Stadium – The House that George Built – would be!
I was warned that it wouldn’t compare to the old version – and the truth is, it didn’t? How could it? There is NO comparison…it’s apples and oranges. What made the first stadium iconic was its history, not the structure. So, when you endeavor to build a stadium to honor the legacy of the Yankees – 27-Time World Champions (say that again, 27-time World Champions!) – everything is grand, even ostentatious, and rightfully so. It is a cathedral to baseball…to this franchise, and to the game – where everything was over-the-top. But, again, it’s all relative, and I’m more than okay with that. I actually wouldn’t have expected anything less.
On that day, April Fool’s Day, the skies cleared up for at least seven innings before the rain came and the Boston Red Sox ran away with the game. Either way, it was a perfect day at the park, and some 30 ballparks later, it was the best way to kick off the season…no foolin’!
(See pictures from the visit here:http://tinyurl.com/c8uz36z), and a few of my favorite below!
Sometimes, the best part of seeing a new park is the all the moving parts that go into planning a trip…and how a random click of a mouse can truly “make” the adventure.
My trip to San Diego to see Petco Park began with a good deal. American Airlines had flights to San Diego for $250 – I couldn’t pass that up! Thankfully, my sister lives there, so my accommodations would be a “suite” at ” Casa Boaz!
Then came the tickets. After asking my sister if she and her family wanted to come, I began to search for four tickets. The offerings on Ticketmaster were a bit limited, so I resorted to my good old standby, Craigslist, and was lucky enough to find four tickets, behind home plate, from a season ticket holder.
Bob and I swapped emails and confirmed the purchase of the ticket. I told him that this would be my #25th park (but for sake of clarification, my #23rd team, since I saw the Giants play in both Candlestick and PacBell, and after this trip, would have seen the Padres play in both Qualcomm and Petco), and even provided him my blog URL so that he could see that I was, indeed, earnest in my purchase.
I arrived in San Diego on Friday morning and headed straight to a Mexican food lunch with Elaine. Honestly, I would have gone just for that meal…no joke (and no disrespect to my family, the Padres or Bob)! Good Mexican food is not easy to come by in Virginia/DC/Maryland, if not impossible. Once sated, I called Bob and made plans to meet him on Saturday for the tickets. Noon, at his home.
By Saturday, my Mom and my sister rounded out the Beltran Tour de Force, and we spent the morning grabbing breakfast and shopping before heading over to pick up the tickets.
Bob’s home in La Jolla was stunning, and, as we parked, his little dogs greeted us at the sidewalk, with Bob right on their heels. He was as kind looking in person as I had imagined. He was bubbly and cheerful, and all I could think of as we were exchanging the cash for tickets was that I had enjoyed such good luck with the people I had encountered on Craigslist via ticket sales/purchases.
He invited Carl and I in to meet his wife, who was equally affable.
“You are doing what we all dream about,” she said. I was humbled!
We chatted for a while before heading out. As I turned for the door, Bob said, “You’re going to have a VIP night tonight.” I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I was excited to find out!
As we pulled away from the house, I received an email from him. “FYI,” was all is said. As I scrolled down, I found an email from Bob to the Guest Relations contact for the Padres. This is what he wrote:
I have been a full season ticket holder for longer than I can, or want to remember. I have a small request of the Padre organization, and I am hopeful you can direct this email to the person that can grant my request.
On May 5th a guest of mine will be sitting in my seats with three friends. Her name is Linda Beltran. Linda is a young lady that is doing, what we all have said we want to do some day. Linda is attending a baseball games at each one of the major league ballparks. Petco will be her #25 park! She is flying in from Washington DC to watch the Padres beat the Marlins this Saturday.
Linda is an exceptional young woman and a true baseball fan. I am hopeful the Padres can do something special and recognize her goal, accomplishment and her love for baseball. Linda writes her own Blog about her experience at each ballpark. Wouldn’t it be nice, after her visit to Petco, if she wrote in her blog, Fenway was Fantastic, Wrigley was Wonderful….. but Petco was Perfect.
I know your busy….but check out her blog “A Girl And The Game https://agirlandthegame.wordpress.com/ . It would be great if the Padres could do something special for this true baseball fan. A Padres gift basket, a team ball, meet the team, a Tony Gwynn or Trevor Hoffman jersey or even just allow her on the field before the game? Additional it would be nice to have her seen on the scoreboard with an announcement telling all the other baseball fans; “Linda is doing what we all talk about doing”!
Thank you in advance for making her visit to San Diego……. Petco Perfect!
As I read this email to my family, it was hard to keep from crying. I was amazed, yet again, by the kindness of strangers, and the great efforts he had made on my behalf!
Needless to say, we (my sister Roselyn, niece Tori and brother-in-law Carl) arrived at the Park especially early. We took the trolley to the park, or the “tra-la-la,” in Mom speak!
For our timeliness, we were awarded with a team shirt, so that was the first bonus! After a quick stop into the team shop to get my magnet, we headed in search of the guest services office to get the stamp on my Padres page of my Pass-port! I could tell from their faces that they had never seen a MLB Pass-port (http://tinyurl.com/7v2ut3k), and that I would have to leave it with them to sort it out.
(Note: The never did find the official stamp, but they “improvised” and gave me an SD stamp, and wrote in the date!)
We ventured to our seats…8 rows from the field, and directly behind home plate…and took it all in! It was a great night, with very little chill in the air! Snacks ensued and, as the start of the game crept closer, I looked up to see Christina, from the team, with a bag of goodies (a hat, another t-shirt, a frame and a team program) with my name on it.
“Be sure to watch the scoreboard between the 3rd and 5th innings,” she said. We snapped a quick picture together and off she went. Bonus # 2 and #3!
After the 3rd inning, we all watch the scoreboard, with our cameras at the ready! A handful of announcements appeared during each changeover, and we only had to wait until the bottom of the 4th to see my sign!
“Padres Welcome Linda Beltran, Visiting all 30 Major League Baseball Parks”
I shrieked as I tried to zoom in on the sign before it switched to the next wedding proposal and prom invite!
We managed to calm down enough to enjoy the rest of the game, only to have the message appear again at the botton of the 7th inning, eliciting another round of screams and high fives amongst the family! How lucky to have all this fun, and even luckier to have my family with me…or really, anyone with me for that matter. Trips to new parks are usually solo trips, but, this one was over-the-top on so many fronts, and I was grateful to have them with me!
At the top of the 8th, a man in the 4th row came and asked for me and then gave us his seats…another request from Bob, who had let this other season ticket holder of my attendance!
I wish I could report that the Padres won the game, but, alas, they fell to the Marlins 4-1, who went on to sweep the three-game series for the weekend!
But, the outcome was inconsequential for me and my family! We had an absolute ball, and Bob was right, we did have a “VIP Night” – making Petco Perfect indeed…and then some!