Day 3 of Spring Training Trip: March 8, 2014
Return of the Ace
Waking up, we knew this would be a busy day. Our mission before the game was to find Jamie Quirk and introduce him to David Jr. Jamie and George Brett were with Dave Freisleben the night he met his wife Melinda and Dave wanted to show the results of that wonderful night – his son, David Jr. We walked to the minor league fields only to find the French baseball team practicing. Walking off from the group, Wayne noticed there were players on the corner field and that the gate was opened. He looked inside and saw a group of Padres minor leaguers huddled up in a meeting. The meeting broke up and the players walked off to do their drills and 2 coaches walked toward the dugout. Wayne asked them if Jamie was out yet. One coach said he wasn’t due until 10 and the other said he was on the field. He asked if they would go get him because a friend was here to say hi. A couple of minutes later Jamie walked up and Dave introduced himself and Jamie knew right away who Dave was. Dave reminded Jamie about that night and that he married one of the girls from that night and that David Jr. was his son. Dave and Jamie talked for a few minutes and then we took some pictures of the three of them. Jamie told us to come visit Lake Elsinore this season and that he looked forward to seeing us there.
As we walked off, we noticed a couple of guys with backpacks that said 9 Inning Know It All and wondered if they were the same guys we did the web show with. We continued to walk and look at things and of course, Dave found Randy Jones. They were chatting away about baseball when we walked up. Wayne asked Randy if he would sign a ball we bought for Dave’s daughter, Linsey – one of those commemorative Spring Training balls. We handed it to Randy and he said, “There is no room to write on it, why didn’t you get a real ball?” LOL! Randy walked off and got a “real ball” and signed it to Linsey and gave it to Dave. Randy confirmed that he would be catching Dave’s ceremonial first pitch. We had mentioned to Randy the day before about it and he liked the idea so Rebecca asked Dave Holtzman about arranging it and it was confirmed.
When we walked away, we saw the guys with the 9 Inning Know It All bags again and approached them and told them who we were. Kelly and Josh were surprised we noticed them but they knew who we were and were happy to meet us. We introduced them to Dave and chatted for a few minutes. We can’t believe we didn’t get a picture together! However, as always, it was fun hanging around the fields, watching the Minor League players working out, observing Glenn Hoffman as he puts the Major League players through the paces, and seeing fans line up to try and get “that” special autograph. It was terrific to see Andrew Cashner spend time with some young boys and talk to them about their baseball playing while also signing autographs for them.
Now it was time for the Platinum Members special event. Rebecca secured our VIP passes and we headed in – with early entry to the ballpark. Alex and Trevor ran ahead to secure us some great tables. Food was provided by the Padres and all the soda and beer you could drink! Josh Byrnes and Mike Dee walked by and we shared our Padres360 business card with them and noted that we had Padres Alumi, Dave Freisleben, with us and that he would be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Josh and Mike got up and spoke about the team. Josh noticed that Wayne was wearing an Andrew Werner #41 jersey and mentioned he hoped someone would wear “a Robbie Erlin jersey” soon.
Randy Jones walked up and put his glove on our table and said, “I know you’re all right-handed and won’t take it.” HA! But it was a pretty sweet glove!
Eric Stults and Tyson Ross came by to sign autographs. Bud Black arrived after practice and spoke to the Platinum Members and fielded questions about the team and the upcoming season. After the Skipper spoke, Randy Jones returned to the mike and introduced Dave. He talked about the years they played together and how good of a pitcher he was in the 1970’s. It was pretty emotional and touching to listen to Randy brag about his friend and teammate. When Randy finished people applauded and approached Dave to chat and get autographs. Randy Jones is an incredible blessing to the Padres organization – always takes time with the fans and is a fantastic ambassador.
Dave, David Jr. and Rebecca were told that they needed to go to the field. Rebecca was going to take pictures for the Freisleben family and Wayne would stay in the stands to video the pitch. Dave and Randy stopped to pose for a picture before heading out to the field … they said, in many ways, it felt like old times.
They got out to the field, just in front of the dugout, and Buddy Black came out to chat. Bud noted that he was going to San Diego State University when Freisy was pitching for the Padres … he remember him. Buddy said he would come to games when possible and loved it. Dave introduced his son to the Skipper and they had a great chat. Randy joined in as well. As an observer (and photographer) it was really fun to watch the guys just talk baseball like it was any other day of the week – even though it was quite special for Dave and David. David Jr. told Rebecca that he hadn’t been on a field pre-game before and it was so cool … and he was thinking about how awesome it was that his dad used to do this all the time and that it was his job!
David was encouraging his dad and soaking in the moment – we got this picture of them to commemorate this special occasion.
Meanwhile, in the stands, the Padres fans were excited to see Dave. Several said things like, “I wish I knew Dave was going to be here because I would have brought my baseball cards of him.” Excitement was building … September 30th of 1979 was the last time Dave had walked toward a major league mound to throw a pitch in a game, now he would throw another pitch in front of his son, the fans who love him, and to his best friend Randy Jones. The scoreboard displayed his 1976 Padres card and the announcer told the crowd that Dave Freisleben was throwing out the first pitch and he stated, “Dave Freisleben threw 13 innings of shutout ball against the Reds on August 4th, 1974.” Dave walked toward the mound and Randy crouched behind the plate. Dave stepped up and tossed a pitch low and outside and Randy caught it.
Randy walked to the mound toward Dave and handed him the ball and they walked off giggling like they were kids. Love these pictures as they capture a bit of the joy that was felt on this special day.
How about a blast from the past? The Padres have had a tradition of photo days and 1975 was no different. Wayne captured a picture of Randy during that event and our friend, Jan Crocker, happened to have one she took of Dave!
The game ended in a 4-4 tie after 10 innings and there was one thing left to do. Pat Murphy was there as a coach for the Padres. He was the manager of the Tucson Padres last season and we got to know him. Wayne bought Rebecca a Tucson Toros jersey Pat Murphy wore during the season and she wanted it signed. Pat started to leave the stadium and Wayne grabbed the jersey and pen and ran in between people down to the last row of the stadium and held the jersey up. Pat walked over he was happy to to sign the jersey. A fan said, “Tucson Toros? I am surprised to see that. Weren’t you guys the Tucson Sidewinders?” Pat responded, “We’re all Toros at heart!” Loved the comment made by the last Tucson Padres manager… at least for now.
Arriving back at the hotel, we waited to hear back from Randy Jones to see what time he would be ready for dinner. He contacted Dave and told him to have us all meet at his hotel at 5:30PM. We drove there to find Randy and his lovely wife, Marie, waiting outside for us to arrive. Randy was smoking a cigar and Marie was sporting a big smile. She hugged Dave and introduced herself to us, making us feel immediately welcomed. We walked over to the Red Robin, where David bought us drinks while we waited to be seated. Pretty quickly, they called our party and we walked over to our seats. Randy walked up to Wayne and thanked him for getting Dave and David to come out for spring training, which was our pleasure.
After ordering our food, Randy and Dave started telling baseball stories to David while Marie talked with us about wine and baseball life. Marie was charming, funny, and an absolute sweetheart to all of us. We told her we would love to take her to Fifty Barrels Winery to try their wine and she said to call her and we’ll set a date. After dinner, Randy ordered mud pie for the boys to eat and boy, did they eat it (with a little help from the rest of us). Randy ordered a small sundae for himself and said, “happy birthday to me.” We all laughed – it wasn’t his birthday but we had been hearing the birthday song sung almost continuously throughout the restaurant. It was a great dinner and it was great to hear the many stories both Randy and Marie told. David Jr. sat there wide-eyed, listening to Randy talk about the many things he and his dad did as players and friends. Outside the restaurant, we took pictures, chatted more and walked toward Randy and Marie’s hotel. It was a night to remember – one we will always cherish.
With one bottle of wine left back at the room, we went down to our hotel’s pool to sit and drink and chat about the last 3 days as well as to hear some of Dave’s great fishing stories … Dave now runs fishing guide business: Major League Guide Service with Capt. Dave Freisleben.
We had such a wonderful time and asked David Jr. what he liked best about the trip. He looked at us and was emotional and sincere when he said, “This was the greatest time of my life.” We hugged one another and we were all feeling the same way. We wrapped the night and headed inside the hotel and into the elevator. Our floor was before theirs, so when the doors opened Dave told us to keep in touch and David hugged us and thanked us again for the “greatest weekend of his life” and we walked into our room to catch the rest of the SDSU game via our phones.
This weekend we will treasure as long as we live. We got to watch 3 baseball games, hang around with 2 fantastic Freisleben men, witness one great first pitch, and have dinner with a former Cy Young Award winner and his wife. The best part of all was making friends with the Freisleben family. To quote former MLB player, Barney Mussill, “Baseball Friends Are Forever” and that is what the family became to us; friends. We look forward to more games in the future with the whole Freisleben family.
We hope you enjoyed a small look inside of our 2014 Spring Training experience. We wish everyone a wonderful baseball season! Go Padres!
All our best …