The Final Out 

Some closing thoughts by the creator of
Vincent's Ballpark Photos

April 10, 2004

Now that Petco Park has opened to the public I have mixed emotions.

I am filled with pride at what was accomplished by the citizens and leaders of America's Finest City, along with the management of the San Diego Padres. Petco Park is a precious jewel in an already beautiful city. Often, while driving south along Mission Bay and the Embarcadero, I look to the west and think to myself, “we live in paradise.”

For more than five years I have dreamed what it would be like to sit in the new ballpark watching a game live. Before any buildings were demolished to make way for the construction I would park my pickup truck on the south side of L Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, facing north, sitting directly over what would one day be the pitcher's mound. Thus would I listen to Padre games on the radio and imagine that I was seeing the game happening right in front of me. I my mind I always thought right field would be Tony's territory. Who could have thought then that Mr. Padre would ever hang up his cleats?

I was not a resident of the city of San Diego when Proposition C was placed on the ballot and, so, could not vote for the ballpark. However, I became educated about the financing plans, studied the original Memorandum of Understanding between the Padres and the City of San Diego, and willingly engaged anyone who would listen about the advantages to all concerned. I became a self-appointed, unpaid lobbyist (read: booster) for the cause of Proposition C. I did what I could to dispel myths and rumors among the less informed.

On the night of November 2, 1998, I went to the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego, where the official "Yes on Proposition C" election night headquarters was located. I wanted to be as close as possible to what was happening. You have seen brief video clips of a party room where balloons are descending from the ceiling. I was in that room that night.

The night that former Padres President and CEO Larry Lucchino made the formal multimedia presentation to the City Council I was in the audience. (I even helped myself to the free pizza in the anteroom which the Council had ordered in for a long night of work.)

I tried to attend one of the public meetings held at the Port Commission Chambers but it was postponed beyond my ability to stay as I had to go to work.

When the construction work began I rejoiced with all of you that “It's happening…It's Happening Here!”

Then came the darkest sixteen months in the history of the San Diego Padres, losing seasons not withstanding. The litigation seemed to go on and on, and we thought we would never see our jewel rise from the rusting rebar and silent sentinels that were a few concrete columns.

I encountered then-Councilman George Stevens at a restaurant near downtown, and implored him very simply to "Build my ballpark." He assured me that they were “going to get it done.” Not two weeks later it was announced publicly that the City had sold bonds to restart the construction.

However, the Padres did not put their ballpark webcam back in service and weeks passed with no way of seeing what what was happening to what was then known as “A Ballpark for San Diego.” I saw that their website was quite outdated in the photographic coverage of the construction. I approached the Padres, offering to shoot photos and update their website for them at no charge. My offer was politely declined, and the webcam and website continued to disappoint.

Finally, hardhat and cheap digital camera in hand, I drove onto the construction site, parked in the construction workers' lot, and just started walking around, shooting photos of everything that looked interesting.

At first, I was going to keep the photos for myself, thinking it would cool to be able to say, after it was done, that I had once been inside the bowels of the ballpark. Then, I realized that there were others who would probably appreciate seeing, if only in pictures, what I was seeing in person. There was no media coverage outside the greater San Diego area and it was hard to get information about the progress if you didn't live here.

So, I put up some photos on my free webspace that came with my e-mail account. One thing led to another and, after several months, I began to get responses from people who were visiting the site on a regular basis. Their comments confirmed what I had suspected, and I found myself in a full-fledged public information endeavor.

The Padres seemed determined to keep me at arm's length, but they consented in the summer of 2002 to allow me to tour the site every month with a member of their staff. I am indebted to Mr. Zach Davis who escorted me for a year, and to Ms. Kelly Lim who took over from Zach as my escort in the summer of 2003. Both of these fine folks went out of their way to make time for me every month so I could keep the photos coming. I thanked them profusely each time I saw them, and I here want to publicly acknowledge their contribution to this effort.

I am also grateful to Ms. Stacy Delp and Ms. Sandy Ruff of Omni Hotels for their help in getting photos from the 31st floor of the Omni San Diego Hotel.

And then there is Mr. John Moores, owner of the Padres, who spontaneously invited me and my grandson on a VIP tour of the private areas of the ballpark in September, 2003. If any of you happen to meet this fine man, please thank him again for me.

Now that the ballpark is open I feel that my usefulness has come to an end. What used to be special access can now be had for the price of a ticket to a ballgame. Anyone can do it. So, there is no need for me to document for you all what is happening because that job is being professionally handled by the likes of Matt Vasgersian, Jerry Coleman, and Ted Leitner, and soon the ESPN staff.

It is now time to turn my attention from the ballpark to the team and the game. Believe it or not, this is not easy to do. I have lived and breathed the ballpark for five years now, quite intimately for the past two. However, a ballpark is only a container for the game and the team.

One person who will be extremely happy to see this project come to an end, however, is Mrs. Martin. She is tired of looking at the back of my head while I toil away at cropping, sizing, retouching, laying out, and uploading photos.

I will step back out of the spotlight and enjoy a winning Padres season along with the rest of you.

Time to hit the showers.

Vincent out.