to a Padres game behind home plate. She loved baseball that much!
During September 1997, the first time the Ravens went in to play the Chargers, I got in touch with Lucchino to come over to our hotel and do a live show back to Baltimore. The once-staid and stoic Lucchino showed up to the thunderous applause of Orioles/Ravens fans in the lobby of the Doubletree Hotel, bought two Bud Lights — one for me and one for him — and he literally took his shoes off, put his feet up and chatted with me for an hour about Baltimore, building Camden Yards, baseball and his love of the game. I guess there’s no need to tell you how the Boston thing has worked out for him and his group!
And Peter Angelos let him get away!
The crowning moment, however, for my San Diego baseball trips didn’t come until the following year.
The Padres loaded up in 1998 and wound up in the World Series against the VERY loaded New York Yankees, who won 114 games that year. They were a machine, really unlike any team we might ever see again and the best team I’d seen since the 1984 Tigers, who were a similar juggernaut. Here’s a stat for you: the Boston Red Sox won 92 games that year and finished 22 games back. The Orioles finished at 79-83 and that’s as close to .500 as they’ve sniffed in a decade.
I took Laresa to both of the 1998 World Series games at Jack Murphy and my Aunt Jane made one as well. We were all sitting together when Trevor Hoffman made his way in from the bullpen to “Hells Bells” during a pivotal moment of Game 3. The Padres lost in four straight to the Yankees, but My Aunt and I made a World Series game together!
Last year, I went to my first game at Petco Park in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp District (think of an upscale Fells Point). I went with my wife and some friends who lived in the area. My Aunt Jane, like my father, was too sick to attend a game with me at the “new” ballpark in her town.
We went, we toasted, we ate Rubio’s and drank cold beer and stared at that kooky warehouse all night. The Padres played the Cubs and won. Fred Uhlman Jr., the long-time assistant GM of the team, left me some sweet seats. They gave away a Western coffee thermos that night that is brick red like that silly wall in the stadium. I’ve got four of them in my kitchen cabinet. They leak through the covers but we still drink out of them even though they make a total mess. I had a good time that night, but, much like my Aunt Jane would have said, “It wasn’t The Murph!”
(And what better tribute than to name a stadium after a local sportswriter who lobbied to get the place built, right?)
My Aunt Jane died this past January at the age of 84. I got to go to baseball games with her, on and off, for the better part of 10 years — including those sweet seats at The Murph and the 1998 World Series.
Every time I go into that cupboard and see that crappy, leaky Padres cup I think of her. Every time I look in the closet and see that hideously cool old school Padres jersey, I think of her.
And thinking of her, makes me think of my Pop.
And that’s kinda cool, I think.
But that’s what baseball can do to you.