Padres Petco Opener Surprises Galore

The San Diego Padres have big plans for opening day at Petco Park vs. the San Francisco Giants on April 8. Among the activities will be a post game fireworks show and the first pitch will be thrown by former United States President and 2002 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jimmy Carter. The biggest question is whether Tony Gwynn will be in attendance.

The former San Diego resident, naval officer, farmer, state politician, and 39th President is a lifelong baseball fan, having the boyhood distinction of attending Jackie Robinson's Major League debut. Carter's participation will mark the first time a President has been involved in ceremonies surrounding a baseball game in San Diego since then-President George H. W. Bush delivered a ceremonial pitch prior to the 1992 Major League Baseball All-Star Game hosted by San Diego at then-Jack Murphy Stadium.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy will also deliver ceremonial pitches.

"We are pleased and honored to have someone of former President Carter's stature, along with Commissioner Selig and our honorable Mayor Murphy, on hand to help celebrate the Opening Night of the inaugural season at PETCO Park," said Dick Freeman. "The day will provide a tremendous series of celebrations for PETCO Park and downtown -- many of which are uniquely San Diego -- that are befitting of such a memorable day for our region."

In addition, longtime San Diego resident and platinum recording artist Jason Mraz will present The Star-Spangled Banner. Mraz, who began performing at local coffeehouses in San Diego, is enjoying international success from his debut album "Waiting for My Rocket," which has sold more than one million copies, and includes the chart-topping single "You and I Both."

All fans in attendance for the 7:05 p.m. game will receive a commemorative Opening Night ticket holder and enjoy a postgame fireworks demonstration, the first of six scheduled this season.

The Padres encourage guests in attendance to be in their seats by 6:15 p.m. for the pre-game ceremonies. All gates open at 4 p.m.

The inaugural regular-season game at PETCO Park comes exactly 36 years after the debut of the Major League Padres at then-San Diego Stadium on April 8, 1969. The opening homestand features three games each with the Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Other notable Opening Night activities include:

• The presentation of the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl flag, one of the largest U.S. flags in the world, by a representative number of uniformed personnel from San Diego-based military installations during the National Anthem.
• A Navy aircraft fly-over and a special message from Navy and Marine troops stationed aboard the U.S.S. Boxer, which is currently deployed overseas.
• Participation by "Mr. Padre" Tony Gwynn and other prominent former players in franchise history.
• The singing of "God Bless America" by Gwynn's daughter, recording artist Anisha Gwynn, followed by "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" sung by country musicians Rhett Atkins, Chad Brock, and Daryle Singletary.
• A look back at the previous three Padres ballparks and a Navy-style Launching and christening of PETCO Park by Padres and PETCO officials.

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