|Florida Marlins - June 26, 2010
Sunday, June 26, 2010 From Miami Florida
Final score: Padres defeat the Marlins 4- 2
STRIKE! I threw out the ceremonial first pitch this afternoon at the San Diego Padres vs. Florida Marlins game at Sun Life Stadium.
This time my pitch was more of a softball strike - with a higher arc - but landed right in the glove of my catcher, Billy the Marlin
Photos available now - blog entry to follow tomorrow (Monday). Right now I need put on my travel agent hat and find a hotel in
Boston for tomorrow night!
Wednesday, June 30 from Silver Spring, Maryland
My apologies for not keeping you up to date on the tour. It's quickly becoming a blur of airplanes, hotels, and searching th Internet
looking for hotels and flights. And my biggest obstacle was the lack of free wi-fi at Tampa and Boston's airports.
My flight from Tampa to Miami was uneventful, and I took a shuttle to the El Palacio hotel - located about 2 miles from Sun Life
Stadium, home of the Florida Marlins. The hotel was also located next to the Calder race track (horses) and casino - so after I
arrived and settled in I braved the heat and humidity and walked over. It was obvious that it wasn't race season as there was no
activity anywhere on or around the track. As it was quite a long walk to the casino, I took a short cut across the race track and
quickly slipped under the rail. I thought I was home free until I ran into a chain link fence. This obstacle required a short detour and I
was soon walking through the front door. Air conditioning! How did people ever live without it?
Since I was just in Las Vegas a few weeks back, I wasn't overly impressed with the place. It was a typical casino, but unlike Vegas,
it was a smoke-free facility. They had a special section for "high limit" slots and the machines were mostly $1, $5, and $10 slots... as
well as three $100 machines. I didn't drop a penny in any of the machines. Good times in south Florida!
I walked through the casino - then through the poker room - then through the race track area where you could bet on other races
via simulcast - then out the far side of the facility. I grabbed a free soda inside and enjoyed the AC before I ventured out again.
Always one for a challenge, I decided to walk back to the hotel by walking around the far end of the race track. I again ducked
under the rail and scooted across. Other than an angry bird that swooped down on me - I must have been too close to a nest - the
rest of the walk was uneventful. By then the sun was setting and I returned to my room wearing clothes that were soaked with
Sadly the hotel was north of Miami and a long haul from South Beach so my dreams of clubbing the Saturday night away were
Sunday, June 27, 2010 - Miami, FL
I took a cab to the stadium and was greeted by Boris Menier of the Marlins. Boris was the person who invited the tour to Miami. He
provided me with a Marlins hat to wear and took me out to the field. Because of the heat (mid 90s with humidity) neither team was
taking outdoor batting practice, so the field was empty. He asked if I wanted to warm up and I said "sure". Next thing I knew he had
a glove and went to home plate. So I went to the pitcher's mound and got to throw a few warm-ups. Then one of the announcers
from the Marlins' TV broadcast took over as catcher while the station recorded me in action. (During the game he came to my seat
and interviewed me while they re-played the video.)
Needless to say warming up on a professional field was a far cry from the local park where I threw 100 pitches a day to get in shape
for the tour.
We then went back into the building and I got to watch the visiting team - the San Diego Padres - during indoor batting practice.
This was something I had never seen before.
Soon it was time for the game to start and I made my way to the mound. I looked around the enormous stadium - built for football
and home of the Miami Dolphins and the University of Florida - and saw barely a trickle of fans, less than 5,000 would be my guess.
My catcher was Billy the Marlin, the team mascot. He stood at the plate and I delivered a strike right into his glove.
After the pitch I made my way to my seat to watch the game - 3rd row directly behind home plate! After the first inning I moved to the
far left end of the section - that was sparsely populated - right next to the visiting team's dugout. So I literally sat right next to the
Padres dugout. I could hear almost every word they said. In the 7th inning, game tied 2-2, Will Venable (Padres right fielder) was at
the plate when he popped up a pitch behind home plate. "That's the best pitch he'll see all day," the manager said. "Dare them to
throw it to him again." Sure enough he threw it again and Venable smashed a 2-run homer into the right field bleachers.
Final score: Padres - 4, Marlins - 2
Because of the great seat I stayed in the stands for the entire game despite the heat. In the later innings I swapped out my Marlins
hat for a wet washcloth over my head (see photos). Not the greatest look but it did help keep me cool.
A special shout out to Boris from the Marlins. He was, by far, the most cooperative person I've worked with during the tour to date.
He scheduled my appearance to coincide with my trip to Tampa, he hooked me up with hotel info, got me a great seat, and checked
back with me throughout the game to make sure everything was ok. He even offered to move me to a seat in the shade, but I opted
to stay near the dugout. So thanks Boris - I had a great time in Miami.
On to Boston!