Padres FriarFest 2006 a success

A chance to stroll the basepaths of Petco, patrol the warning track and test the play of the wall as you make the catch that saves a homer while mingling with your favorite Padres, past and present – that was the scene at PETCO Park and FriarFest 2006.

Besides the great scenery of the park and being able to access the field, the real joy for many was getting assorted items signed by their favorite players.

Four players and/or coaches per session were available to sign bats, balls and hats. And one man had his dog's hat, yes, dog's hat signed. Right-handed newcomer Chris Young was a little scared of taking that plunge but eventually came close enough to scratch his name on the cap.

It was a day filled with laughs in the sun as fans mulled about and waiting patiently through each line. The biggest problem during the day was Oggi's Pizza running out of. . .pizza.

On display were two of Tony Gwynn's Gold Glove Awards and Padres memorabilia, and assorted booths that included the Lake Elsinore Storm and the Navy SEALS. Fans also had the opportunity to have their face put on a baseball card or magazine cover for $1 and $5, respectively.

One of the more exciting moments for fans was an interactive question and answer session with players and coaches, both former and current.

Kurt Bevacqua, who had two stints with the Padres and spent the final four years of his career in San Diego, provided some colorful commentary in response to one question from a fan.

The question was in regards to the best rookie pranks:

"It didn't come as a rookie but came in my third year in the league while I was with the Pirates," Bevacqua explained. "It started in spring training when our trainer made a bet with us that he could lift any three players on the team.

"It was impossible."

Impossible, Bevacqua continued because the team held players such as big Willie Stargell and David Parker with the trainer still insisting he could dead lift any three off the ground.

"The day finally came and stupid me is in the middle to balance the weight," he continued. "Need less to say, they pin me down, cut off half my mustache, put peanut butter in my hair and put hot balm where it should not be.

"And this is 12 minutes before game time."

Outfielder Dave Roberts recanted his own tale. He remembered his first purchased suit, given to him by Sandy Alomar, and coming back to his locker one day and finding a miniskirt where his suit should have been, along with lipstick.

"We had to serve the veterans on the plane ride," Roberts explained. "Then I got a phone call from someone who told me a picture of me made it on the Internet!"

Those stories made the event feel cozy and brought you inside the dugout, chewing on sunflower seeds and taking in the game, chatting lightheartedly with your fellow players - major league players.

FriarFest 2006 was a success and it was easy to see why.

It also reminds that baseball season has arrived.

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