Picture this, It’s a gloomy Wednesday night on March 11, 2020. The boys had a split game that day, one at Cubs and one at home against the Mariners. The weather in Peoria was not the best that night with on and off again heavy rain, but to our surprise, the game went on! I remember thinking how much I just wanted to be home that night after working all day at the Padres Spring Training facility, cuddled up in bed, Skittles in one hand, and watching the game on tv… DRY. Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather be at a ballpark in person, again- Skittles in hand, and rooting for my boys… but not when it’s hailing and your sweatshirt and jeans are drenched and hair is beginning to look like a Chia-Pet (not very comfortable or flattering). Padres are down, but hey, the crowd got to see McKenzie Gore AND Luis Patiño that night—win for the crowd so far I would say! Rain starts getting heavier, umps call the game after the bottom of the 7th, Mariners 4 Padres 2…ouch. But that’s okay, it’s JUST Spring Training, we have another game tomorrow against the Indians (Helllllllllllo Franmil) and the rest of the 2020 season!
Fast forward to today, May 4th (may the force be with you—sorry had to), sitting poolside in sunny California. What’s the problem with that you may ask? I SHOULD BE WATCHING THE PADRES WHOOPING THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS AT BUSCH STADIUM TODAY!!!! Sorry Miss Taylor Hood, but it’s the truth. I would give anything to go back to March 11th, sitting drenched in the rain, getting pounded by hail, late night at work, I’ll even settle with Padres being down, but at least I would have baseball. If I would have known that almost rained out game would have been my last, I would have held on to those stadium chairs a bit a tighter and longer.
It’s extremely weird to think that we are reaching the two-month mark without baseball. What even is life anymore?! I grew up in a Mexican household in San Diego, California. Mom from Sinaloa and dad from Jalisco. My mom is the furthest thing from being described as athletic (I take after her on that) and my dad was the epitome of what some would call a meat head. One thing that would bring them together was the love for baseball—which I inherited. My mom is from Culiacan, Sinaloa—so of course she reps her Tomateros, and my dad’s dad raised him in Michigan, so he became a Detroit Tigers fan. They divorced when I was very young, but they continued to share the love for me and baseball. Baseball was the distraction that would keep them together to make me happy. December 25th 1998, I gained an angel in the outfield. I was only three days into turning seven. I am not one to share my emotions or to cry in public. I didn’t know how to take the loss of my dad, my best friend. I was his princess, his little wild hair spaz, his sports buddy. My world turned upside down, yet I didn’t know how to handle it. I missed him. I just wanted him back.
March of 1999 came around and I remember flipping through the channels and seeing the Padres were playing. At that moment, it was as if I felt my dad with me, next to me on the bed, watching the game. Comparing everyone on the Padres to the Tigers. Especially Tony Gwynn and Al Kaline—which he would get a kick out of it now knowing that Gwynn became known as Mr. Padres and Kaline as Mr. Tiger. From then on, I knew that baseball was my connection to my father. That the ballpark was our halfway mark from heaven and earth. He would forever be able to see his wild hair spazzy child living her best life at any ballpark and now on any field—just look for the big hair daddio. But most importantly, that he will forever be my angel in the outfield, along with his new pals, Mr. Padre and Mr. Tiger.
Not only does baseball connect me with family, it gives me a purpose for life. All my life I have dreamed of working in the sporting industry; I love sports and I love to talk—I would say it’s a perfect fit. It wasn’t common to see females in the sporting industry back then, especially in baseball. My first female sports broadcaster I grew to idolize was Erin Andrews. She is the GOAT for NFL broadcasts—in my opinion. I wanted to be her. I needed to be her. So, I turned to football field reporting. Loved it but found so many nights that I would go home annoyed of football. Like what??? For those that know me personally, know I am a huge football girl and diehard Chargers fan (yes, we still exist). From season tickets, to attending as many college games as possible (Fight On and Go Blue). I had been interning for several local newspapers since high school covering Prep Football and other sports. In college I was blessed to bring my passion for sports reporting on to San Diego local cable every Tuesday and Friday night! Dream come true as a college student! But there would be many nights where I would go home upset, or unsatisfied with my work. I would even turn down going to football games because I felt as if I were to be doing something wrong by enjoying the game and not paying attention to the exact play that happened, the formation in which he ran, etc. I thought to myself, maybe this industry isn’t for me.
My life would forever change in April of 2016. My producer at the time knew that I was bilingual with Spanish. He came up to me after a Tuesday night show and asked if I knew anything about baseball, I immediately replied with, YES GO TIGERS. Trusting me, he told me to be at Petco Park that Thursday. I have only covered prep sports and some, very few community college games, so I assumed it was for a special tournament that one of the private schools like Mater Dei was having at the home of the San Diego Padres. I showed up and boy was I wrong!!!!! I remember walking up to the Media line and getting handed my credential. It was so professional looking, and it gave me access to the ENTIRE stadium… WHAT!?!? Getting directed to the Lexus Premier elevator and upstairs exiting and see a huge sign that said Broadcasters on one side and Print Media on the other. Pinch me… was I in heaven? I walk to my directed booth, and BAM, my life would forever change. My producer trusted me with assisting in a live…yes LIVE, play by play professional Spanish broadcast for my very first time… EVER. That night the Giants broadcaster asked me to finish the series with him, and the rest is history!
I went home that series excited for the next. Researching old games, researching future games. Everything. I just couldn’t get enough of baseball. It became my drug. Football who?? I’m kidding on that part, but I do remember reminiscing on how good it felt to be at the ballpark once again, speaking of different teams, smack talking, laughing, and forgetting that I was even working! This was true definition of living the motto “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I worked alongside with the San Francisco Giants for two almost three years shadowing the best Spanish commentator Erwin Higueros who took me under his wing. Boy did I give him grey hairs, but I thank him for his patience and guiding me along the way every day.
Today I am thankful to say I am (well on pause for right now), continuing my journey with the San Diego Padres and their minor league affiliates for my second year. I have been blessed to wear many hats within this organization such as operations, radio broadcast, translator, social media, pre/post game interviews, and many more. I can’t thank baseball enough for taking a chance on a girl who has had such a huge passion for the game, but for a girl who shares a bigger meaning with baseball. It’s where I feel a part of a family. Where no matter your background, beliefs, what you look like, or if you’re even a Dodger fan (gag), we all are there for the love of the game. Baseball is what unites us and makes us forget about our outside problems. Although it may hurt sometimes when our teams are losing, I’d much rather experience that hurt than the hurt I am experiencing now without it.
Thank you baseball, for so so so much. For connecting me to my angel in the outfield; for finding my passion for broadcasting; for introducing me to some of the bestest friends a girl could ask for (especially my Ballpark Vibes girls); for giving me a reason to look forward to for tomorrow.
We are all in this together, and I can’t wait to be reunited with the smell of fresh cut grass, Skittles in hand, headset squeezing the mane, friends and family in the stands, and the sound of My House by Flo Rida firing up my Friar Faithfuls.
We miss you baseball. Thank you. You will never know how much you mean to me. I’ll see you soon my baseball family! Until then, keep up with your favorite baseball players and memories with the girls at Ballpark Vibes!