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COMMENTARY: America’s Finest City Shined for Major League Baseball’s Midsummer Classic

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

 

Perfect chamber of commerce weather splashed down on the 87th Major League Baseball All-Star Game this past Tuesday night at Petco Park in San Diego. And please forgive me if I use this redundant cliché that every host city of this event uses, but San Diego indeed did it right and was ready to show the rest of the league how to put on such an event.

Needless to say, I wish I could have been there this time to see the stars of my favorite sport enjoy everything that the midsummer classic has to offer. Everything from the ever-so-popular FanFest at the San Diego Convention Center to the Home Run Derby to batting practice and beyond, the city of San Diego has been waiting for this since 1992.

As someone who grew up in San Diego, and I still love the city, I had the opportunity to go to the midsummer classic in 1992. Back then, it was held at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium in Mission Valley. There were no spectacular views that you’ll find at Petco Park, but the 1992 event was indeed a high scoring affair, won the American League 13-6.

I felt like “The Murph”, as it was affectionately called, was my home for five straight days. I went to the San Diego Padres-Philadelphia Phillies game the previous Friday night, Saturday afternoon (a nationally televised game), and Sunday night ESPN game. Then I went to the batting practice and Home Run Derby events on Monday before sitting in left field on the loge level for the game.

San Diego needed this game in 2016 for several reasons. For starters, the late, and great, Tony Gwynn passed away a little over two years ago. Mr. Padre was loved by all of San Diego and to some outside of San Diego, even if you weren’t a Padres fan. He would have loved the all-star game at one of baseball’s newest jewels, which opened in 2004. He would have loved the fact that before the game, Padres television play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg, along with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, announced that the name of the trophy that goes to the National League batting champion would be named the Tony Gwynn National League batting champion award. When that was announced, chants of “Tony, Tony, Tony” cascaded down from the seats. I have to admit, it was a bit emotional. The American League batting champion will receive the Rod Carew American League batting champion award.

San Diego needed this game because, well, quite frankly, it hasn’t been one of the more successful cities for professional sports. The Padres have been to the playoffs twice since Petco Park opened-2005 and 2006. The San Diego Chargers, who still reside in the same facility where the Padres played from 1969-2003, are still waiting to see if the will get a new downtown football stadium, which would be right down the street from Petco Park.

San Diego needed this game because it seemed like all of the other new baseball stadiums built after Pecto Park was opened, has already hosted an all-star game. At least I can still tease my Los Angeles Dodgers fans with the fact that San Diego, and Anaheim, have each hosted this July event twice since the last time the game was at Dodger Stadium (1980).

The old school jerseys, which I called at the time the “Taco Bell” jerseys, were worn throughout this past Monday and even in batting practice before the game. Some like the brown and yellow uniforms and some don’t. But there’s just something about old school uniforms that brings the true fan out of me.

Let’s not forget the awesome display put on by Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins in the Home Run Derby as well as Todd Frazier of the Chicago White Sox and Mark Trumbo of the Baltimore Orioles. There were definitely some lucky fans sitting up in the Western Metal Supply Company building in left field.

Who knows when MLB will bring the game back to San Diego. If every city gets their chance beginning with Miami next year, then the Padres could be hosting it in 2046. Hopefully it won’t take that long. But what’s not to like about Petco Park, downtown San Diego and the Gaslamp District.

Either way, memories were made on July 12, 2016 and even if the Padres don’t make the playoffs for the 10th straight season, this was still an All-Star season for the city and Padres franchise.

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