Chapter 12: A Dundalk guy becomes a San Diego dude

March 16, 2012 | Nestor Aparicio

baseball advocate group at Jack Murphy Stadium.

Her AM radio was her life and was always on, and it always made me feel good about being a “radio guy” because she SO approved of my career. My Pop never got to see how I turned out, the life I’d made for myself. But my Aunt Jane always made me feel proud to be my father’s son.

Lucky for me, after my Pop died, I always had enough money to fly off to California whenever I wanted to touch some of his spirit through his sister. She even strongly resembled my father with her features and mannerisms — but not at all with her politics (she never voted for a Democrat, he would rather die than vote for a Republican). It really soothed me to spend time with her because she was so much like my Pop with her fire and brimstone and her “old world” philosophies. But she was so square she was damned near hip, in some ways.

She was one cool old lady, my Aunt Jane!

EVERY single important person in my life met my Aunt Jane at some point. Girlfriends, buddies, co-workers, employees, my wife — everyone stayed in the back room at my Aunt Jane’s house at some point if they went to San Diego with me.

You could ask my pal Kevin Eck. Or my bud Johnny Raf. Or my pal Scotty P. I think everyone in the known universe slept in her spare room at some point to avoid a stiff hotel bill complete with California taxes from some hotel on the I-8 at the Hotel Circle.

I’ve done three Ravens road trips to San Diego, two Super Bowls in San Diego and more Padres games than I can really count — at least dozens, and I’ve got plenty of Padres swag even though I’ve never been the kind of fan who has stayed up late at nights watching them play. I’ve probably done my radio show from San Diego 30 times over the past 15 years.

The Padres’ clubhouse was always the coolest place to be (much cooler than a lot of the jerks the Orioles seem to have brought through here during those years) and when they won, it always made my Aunt Jane happy. And that made me happy. So I bought one of those hideously beautiful mustard and brown jerseys — an actual game-worn one from 1976 (No. 38, whoever that was) and I still wear it proudly.

An “old school” jersey for an “old school” guy, right?

Some of my favorite baseball stories involve my Aunt Jane and Tony Gwynn, who I became friends with over the years by just showing up in the Padres clubhouse, even in places outside of Jack Murphy Stadium like Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston or at EVERY All Star Game, which also became a routine for me during the late 1990’s.
I got to know Gwynn from my first meeting in the visiting clubhouse at Camden Yards in 1993. We spoke the same language: Rubio’s.

He knew that I knew San Diego when I told him about my crazy Aunt Jane, her Padres fandom, the Murph and Rubio’s fish tacos. They are a staple of my West Coast diet and always will be. If I lived there, I’d gain 20 pounds in the first year because I wouldn’t be able to pass the joint without picking up two or three (they even serve them at Petco Field and always did at the ‘Murph!).

But Gwynn was just a spectacularly cool guy, would also talk baseball with me, ask me about the American League and about my Padres-loving nutty