7/17/00 and 7/18/00 at Qualcomm Stadium

Over the past six weeks, I’ve blogged about games that I attended long ago at Shea Stadium, Tiger Stadium, the Kingdome, County Stadium, and Candlestick Park. Now I’m taking you back to Qualcomm (formerly known as “Jack Murphy”) Stadium in San Diego. I was there for two games in 2000, and I’ve decided to combine them into one entry . . .

The first game started with a dreadfully long walk from my hotel to the stadium. I would’ve taken a cab (or booked a different hotel) had I not been misled about the distance, but whatever. I got some free exercise and ended up taking a nice photograph of Qualcomm from afar:

1_outside_qualcomm_stadium_07_17_00

Here’s what the stadium looked like up close:

2_outside_qualcomm_stadium_07_17_00

I wandered all around and took more photos like this . . .

3_outside_qualcomm_stadium_07_17_00

. . . and this:

4_outside_qualcomm_stadium_07_17_00

Eventually I found myself at the Press Gate and struck up a conversation with a friendly security guard named Bruce. He asked where I was from and what brought me to San Diego, so I told him the whole story: I’d been flown out to Los Angeles several days earlier to appear on a game show called “To Tell The Truth“; rather than heading straight back to New York, I’d made the trip here to see a couple games at Qualcomm. He later introduced me to some season ticket holders who were hanging out with him, and we all chatted for a while. Here’s a photo of them:

5_bruce_and_season_ticket_holders_07_17_00

One of the ladies asked me if I had a ticket for the game, and when I told her “not yet,” she handed one to me! Obviously I was thrilled to save some money — I’d only won $1,000 on the show and was gonna have to pay taxes on it — but I wasn’t sure if it was worth the hassle. You see, I felt obligated to sit with her, and yeah, she was perfectly nice, but ucchh . . . I ended up spending the first few innings with her when I *really* wanted to be exploring the stadium. By the time I was finally on my own, I didn’t feel like taking photos, and for some reason, I neglected to take any during batting practice. Therefore I can only describe the rest of my day, starting with a list of the BP balls that I snagged:

1) thrown by Padres infielder Kevin Nicholson
2) thrown by Padres first baseman Joe Vitiello
3) thrown by Angels pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa
4) home run hit by the Angels; grabbed in the seats
5) thrown by Angels pitcher Seth Etherton
6) thrown by Angels pitcher Mike Fyhrie

How’s THAT for a bunch of names you haven’t heard for a while (if ever)? Those six baseballs, by the way, increased my lifetime total to 1,639 — not bad for a college kid.

The best thing about the game was that Angels starter Brian Cooper got the win. I know what you’re thinking: Who the hell is Brian Cooper? Right? Well, in my world, Brian Cooper was a big deal because he’d pitched for the Boise Hawks in 1995, and I’d gotten to know him a little bit. That was the season I worked for the Hawks, so I rooted HARD for all the guys from that team who reached the majors. Jarrod Washburn was the biggest name who passed through Boise that summer. The only other guys who reached The Show were Trent Durrington and Justin Baughman. I was hoping to see Darin Erstad in Boise — he was the first overall pick of the 1995 draft — but after he tore up rookie ball for four whole games, he jumped directly to Lake Elsinore in the California League. Anyway, I digress. The worst thing about the game was getting into a huge confrontation with an usher in the 9th inning. I was trying to get down to the Angels’ dugout, and she was power-tripping beyond belief, and let’s just say it got ugly. I’m glad to say that she didn’t prevent me from getting this:

6_lineup_card_07_17_00

Angels coach Joe Maddon gave me that lineup card. (I barely knew his name at the time.) “It’s the best one in the majors,” he told me, and he was right. It really is a thing of beauty.

That brings us to Day 2 at Qualcomm Stadium. It was an afternoon game, and unfortunately there was no BP, but hey, at least things were relaxed enough for me to take a bunch of photos. Here’s one of rookie Derrick Turnbow throwing a bullpen session:

7_derrick_turnbow_bullpen_session_07_18_00

Turnbow didn’t give me that ball, but I did get one soon after from Angels pitching coach Bud Black.

A little while later, on the other side of the stadium, I caught up with Brian Cooper:

8_brian_cooper

I got to talk to him for a bit, and it really made my day.

My 2nd ball of the afternoon was thrown all the way up into the empty Club Level by Padres pitcher Brian Meadows — for no good reason, it should be noted. I was standing near him and asked him for it, and he could’ve easily flipped it to me, but no, he had to be a jackass and launch it 200 feet away. It took a long time for me to get there, at which point an usher handed it to me. Still counts. My rule is that I’ll accept baseballs from stadium employees, but not fans.

Then I got a bunch of autographs, starting with this guy:

9_trevor_hoffman_signing_autographs

In case you can’t tell, that’s Trevor Hoffman wearing medical scrubs. I’d collected lots of ticket stubs after the previous game, so I got him to sign one . . .

10_trevor_hoffman

. . . and then another:

11_trevor_hoffman

On the ticket pictured above, did you notice the image of PETCO Park? The Padres had just broken ground two months earlier, but the new stadium was still four years from opening — kinda cool to look back at it now. I didn’t think much of that ticket at the time, but now that I’ve visited PETCO and seen countless games there on TV, it’s like . . . whoa, that’s exactly what the stadium ended up looking like.

All my other autographs are gonna seem lame compared to Hoffman. Here’s Adam Eaton:

12_adam_eaton

Here’s Kevin Walker:

13_kevin_walker

Here’s Steve Montgomery:

14_steve_montgomery

Here’s Kory DeHaan on the front of a ticket . . .

15_kory_dehaan_front

. . . and Kevin Nicholson on the back:

16_kevin_nicholson_back

I also got some players and coaches to sign older tickets from other games, including Matt Clement, Al Levine, Mark Petkovsek, Mike Fyhrie, Mickey Hatcher, Bud Black, and Alfredo Griffin.

I got two more baseballs thrown to me before the game started. The first came from Padres catcher Ben Davis, and the second came from Angels reliever Mike Holtz.

I’m embarrassed to show you the shirt that I was wearing that day, but here goes:

17_zack_inside_qualcomm_stadium

Ouch.

My dad had it made for me. I think (or at least hope) that that was the only time I ever wore it.

Here’s what the stands looked like on the first-base side:

18_qualcomm_stadium_first_base_side

Here’s another shot of the seats and upper levels . . .

19_qualcomm_sign_inside_stadium

. . . and here are the Angels during the national anthem:

20_national_anthem_07_18_00

As you can see in the photo above, there was no dugout “roof.” The front-row seats were about 10 feet directly above the top step of the dugout. I’ll show you a few more stadium oddities in a bit.

Early in the game, I took a couple photos from a section behind home plate. Here’s one . . .

21_view_from_behind_home_plate

. . . and here’s the other . . .

22_view_from_behind_home_plate

. . . and here’s what they look like stuck together in Photoshop:

23_qualcomm_stadium_panorama

Qualcomm Stadium was weird, but that can be said about any football stadium where baseball happens to be played. Did you notice the wide cross-aisle in the last few photos? Here’s what it looked like up close, along with a lovely railing that I constantly had to look through:

24_qualcomm_stadium_cross_aisle

The worst thing about that railing was that it prevented me from going down into the seats. The fact that it blocked my view didn’t really bother me. In fact, the crappy view was actually a good thing because no one wanted to sit in the row directly behind that aisle. As a result, I had LOTS of room to run for foul balls, and I ended up catching one on the fly in the bottom of the 4th inning. Ken Hill pitched it. Ruben Rivera hit it. And I was a happy young man. That was my fifth and final ball of the day — No. 1,644 lifetime.

Check out the view from the left field corner:

25_view_from_left_field_corner

Now THAT is weird. Because of how the stands jutted out and angled back, there was a small portion of the field that couldn’t be seen from home plate.

One thing I loved about the stadium was that the seats extended all the way around the outfield:

26_qualcomm_stadium_outfield_seats

This was different from the awful, horseshoe-shaped seating bowls back home; if I wanted to move from left to right field at Shea or Yankee Stadium, I had to walk (or run!) all the way through foul territory and around home plate and then back out toward the other foul pole. It was terrible. But here in San Diego? I felt so free.

This was my view late in the game:

27_view_late_in_game_07_18_00

For the second day in a row, the Angels won by the score of 3-2 (only this time it took 11 innings), and I got the lineup card:

28_lineup_card_07_18_00

I also got a bunch of ticket stubs on the way out:

29_qualcomm_stadium_ticket_stubs

Finally, I’m pleased to share my original handwritten journal entries about Qualcomm Stadium. They’re kinda long, but I think you’ll find them entertaining. The first one starts with the trip itself from L.A. to San Diego . . .

30_journal_volume67_page5

. . . and continues here with tales of women and regret:

31_journal_volume67_page6_7

I’ve always been bad at (or shy about) starting conversations with random women in public, and even when conversations get going, I’m reluctant to say anything suggestive or make the first move. In this case, my excuse was that I was in a serious/monogamous relationship, and I simply wasn’t trying to make anything happen with anyone else. In general, though, my issue isn’t insecurity. I have no fear of getting rejected. I just assume that any woman who doesn’t want me is a lesbian and/or doesn’t like guys with shaved heads, so whatever . . . her loss. The issue is that I never want to seem creepy or make anyone feel uncomfortable, so I hold back and pretend to be polite. Also, given the unusual deal-breakers that I have for potential girlfriends combined with all the hard-to-find traits that I’m looking for, the odds that I’ll randomly meet someone compatible are so small that it’s not even worth trying.

Anyway, here’s the part of my entry when I first arrived at the stadium:

32_journal_volume67_page8_9

Here I am getting off to a terrible start during BP:

33_journal_volume67_page10_11

The entry continues here . . .

34_journal_volume67_page12_13

. . . and here . . .

35_journal_volume67_page14_15

And ends here. But then I started another entry with a few more funny details about my second game at Qualcomm:

36_journal_volume67_page16_17

Here’s where it ends.

37_journal_volume67_page18_19

17 Comments

That photo of Brian Cooper almost looks fake….weird…. Oh, and there’s no way Trevor Hoffman was using steroids….impossible. O.O

1. Trevor Hoffman looks ripped in that picture! Holy crap, look at that bicep!
2. Hasegawa, Erstad, Glaus, Vaughn (he actually DID play a few games for the Angels). Boy, that takes me back.
3. I kind of miss those Disney uniforms.
4. Qualcomm was a weird place to watch a baseball game, that’s for sure. I remember watching Tony Gwynn play there a few times when I was a kid.
5. Thanks for this one! Great stuff, Hample.

Wonder why Hoffman was wearing scrubs.. The Q looked like a fun time. Quirky stadiums are fun. Gonna go watch your “To Tell the Truth” now.

Wow your pics brought tears to my eye as I was a season ticket holder and attended every game with my dad as he was a major padres fan and looking at those photos for a moment as dumb as it sounds brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye as I lost him the next year on New Years and I just wanted to thank you personally for sharing those pics
Sincerely
Tommy

Trevor Hoffman – roooowwwrrrr…
Will give you a pass on the “wearing your own t-shirt” faux pas. You were young. That shirt would be a great prize in your charity giveaway. : )

the Q is better than petco.damn pitchers park.that Bruce guy is called press gate bruce,you can see him in the movie TItantic,he was in a life raft scene[filmed in ensenada mexico] he s a pt time actor And.he s in Angels in the outfield too,in the stands above the dugout scene..He s lost the spare tire too.and the girl in blue shirt has slimmed down ,and she is a security gaurd now at charger games.I was in RF that game waiting for a KLesko hr im sure..today im goig in royals stadium in 20 minutes. out here in AZ caught 4 in spring tr BP, GOT WARNED BY THE SURPRISE COPS FOR USING MY GOLF BALL SNAGGER .PUTTING IT THRU THE FENCE IS CONSIDERED TRESPASSING….just got my first ball using it,and motorcycle cop ran my name for warrants.strict out here in SURPRISE

BRIAN-
Eh, you just don’t know who’s using steroids — skinny guys, huge guys . . . everyone’s a suspect. It sucks.

BLOGGING ‘BOUT BASEBALL-
1) Is the water bottle adding to his ripped-ness?
5) You’re welcome, pal!

CH1088-
He was wearing them to show off dat bicep.

TOMMY-
It’s not dumb at all. In fact, your comment is one of the most touching that I’ve ever received. I’m really glad to hear that you enjoyed this entry, and you’re very welcome.

LIZ MERRY-
Even though I probably won’t ever wear that shirt again, I feel like keeping it. As for Hoffman . . . yep. I had a man-crush on him. Whatever. I’ll admit it.

BEN-
The world sucks. Every injury results in a damn lawsuit. I feel terrible for this guy, but I cringe at the thought of this ruining it for everyone.

TC-
Very cool about Bruce. I had no idea. As for the cops, what the hell? They need to go find better things to do. That’s seriously lame.

Do you know if you are going to any Brewer games this year?

Zack – How do you ask for people for their ticket stubs after the game?

BEN ZITOUNI-
In Milwaukee? No idea. Last night I looked at the 2013 schedule for the first time and made tentative plans to attend some games in April in New York. That’s all I got so far.

BR-
I don’t do it anymore, but I used to hang out in the concourse and casually walk up alongside people as they were leaving and say, “Excuse me, do you guys have any extra ticket stubs that you’re not saving?” Lots of people would look at me funny. Some folks accused me of collecting them in order to redeem those coupons on the back. (Okayyyy.) Some people said they left their stubs at their seats. Some people said that they save ‘em. Some people would say yes and hand some to me.

Seth Etherton. 2005 Oakland Athletic. Oh! So I found out that my math teacher is a ballhawk! His brother is an usher for the San Jose Giants. His cousin used to umpire in the minor leagues. Here’s a good story (He did not ballhawk at the time of this story). You know how Fernando Tatis is the only MLB player to ever hit two grand slams in the same inning? Well my math teacher was at that game. Want to know where that 2nd GS landed? In the lap of the person behind him! He was eating nachos at the time. Ball hit and he couldn’t find a place to put them. Bounced off his fingertips into the lap of the guy behind him. How crazy/cool/FAIL is that?
-Nick
http://nbbaseball.wordpress.com/

Hey Zack, what do you think of this foul ball ruling? It has to do with the Boise Hawks.

http://tinyurl.com/a8ktrre

- Chris
http://ballhawker.wordpress.com

I’m going to a Brewer game in June. I’m gonna go into the stadium early and use the glove trick to snag some extra balls

NICK-
That Tatis story nearly made me sick. It cool in a twisted way. Oof.

CHRIS-
A fellow named Ben asked me about it up above. Check out all the comments.

BEN ZITOUNI-
Good luck. Let me know how it goes.

Zack,

I was at this series! It was the only time I ever saw a baseball game at Qualcomm. I went to the Holiday Bowl there last year (Go Bears!) They gave away a padres night light at one of those games and I had it in my room for years. Good to see guys like Erstad, Percival, and Molina in their younger days.

Very cool. I wish we’d known each other then.

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