A Trip of a LifetimeLast week my wife and I took a trip of a lifetime. We didn't take a cruise on one of many mega liners that depart from our inviting harbor, or board a plane to some far off exotic land. We simply boarded the San Diego Trolley and headed west toward downtown San Diego. We laughed and joked with fellow passengers as we passed through La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and East San Diego, headed for the 12th and Imperial stop, two short blocks from our ultimate destination, Petco Park. From infants to super seniors, the trolley was filled with Padre fans decked out in jerseys and caps that represented Padres of the past. All of us shared a sense of excitement, a sense that this was the beginning of a new era. We were all happy that it was also a time of closure to the bitter battle to build San Diego's answer to Denver's Coors Field, Baltimore's Camden Yards, and San Francisco's SBC Park. We were pumped.
The new scoreboard welcomed Padres fans on Opening Night.When we arrived at 12th and Imperial, and began our short walk to Petco Park, the excitement began to grow. We could see the lights of the park. We could hear the buzz of the crowd. We knew we were just moments away from seeing the newest addition to San Diego baseball history. We talked about days at Lane Field, Westgate Park, Jack Murphy Stadium, and Qualcomm. They were about to pass into history. As we arrived at the park and proceeded to the turn styles where new bar code readers would read the codes on our opening night tickets, we realized that Thursday, April 8, 2004 had arrived.and so had Petco Park, the newest and brightest addition to downtown San Diego. We headed to our seats, walking past scores of food operations and well placed restrooms. We smiled back at the multitude of cheerful Padres employees who welcomed us to their new home away from home. Although there was a relaxed atmosphere in the air, both my wife and I were nervously excited as we realized we were about to become part of San Diego baseball history. Our Trip Of A Lifetime will forever be a memory of viewing the pavers we purchased to honor and remember my father, Horace Miller, a long time San Diego resident and Padres fan, and my wife's brother, Ron Greenberg, an El Cajon resident and multi-year Padres season ticket holder. It will be remembering former President Jimmy Carter throwing out the first ceremonial pitch to owner John Moores, Tony Gwinn striding to home plate to a well deserved standing ovation, the Western Metal Building's old brick facade beaming with pride as it became part of a new tradition, and the Armed Services Color Guard unrolling a huge American flag across the manicured outfield grass.
It was time to Play Ball when Pt. Loma High's David Wells took the mound on Opening Night.We'll remember the pride of San Diegan's of all ages as we stood to sing the Star Spangled Banner and then watched four jets from MCAS Miramar do a fly over at the precise moment the last note was sung. We will always remember two of the most exciting moments in San Diego baseball history.Pt. Loma High's David Wells firing a first pitch strike to officially welcome America's National Pastime to Petco Park, and Granite Hills High alum Brian Giles delivering Petco's first hit, a sizzling single to right. The game itself was terrific, full of good pitching, great defense, clutch hitting, and an opening night win for the Padres. Whether this opening win is a harbinger of things to come only time will tell. However, for my wife and I, our ride on the San Diego Trolley, and our Opening Night at Petco Park, will always be A Trip Of A Lifetime.