March 16, 2014 by Wayne McBrayer & Rebecca Herman
The journey began about 16 months ago while researching pictures of Washington Padres cards. I happen to have two of them in my card collection: Dave Hilton and Dave Freisleben. During my research I found a picture of Dave Freisleben (Freisy) wearing a jersey of what was going to be the Washington Padres uniform. To the best of our knowledge, no other Padres player was ever photographed in that uniform.
As a kid, I had a poster on my wall that was part of a 1974 giveaway and Dave Freisleban was on it and always a Padres player that I remembered fondly. I started thinking more about Dave and decided to see if he was on Facebook. I located him and he accepted my friend request and also Rebecca’s. I also sent him a link to my Casual Fan and our Padres360 Fan Page and he started following our posts and stories about the Padres.
Last spring, we went to spring training and stopped at Yuma at the old ballpark. We posted the pictures and Dave responded saying it brought back some great memories. We suggested that next year he should join us at Spring Training for some games.
Over the year, we kept in touch with Dave … chatting occasionally on Facebook and sometimes just though posts. Just after Dave’s birthday in November, he said he would like to join us for Spring Training. As soon as we started planning our trip, we sent him information about hotels and tickets. By the end of January, we had everything squared away. Dave was going to bring his son David Jr. on the trip. This would be David’s first spring training trip and the first one for Dave since his retirement. Knowing that Dave would be coming, we decided to see if the Padres would do something special for one of their former players.
I mentioned to Rebecca that it would be neat if the Padres would let him throw out the first pitch at the March 8 game. The Padres would be playing against the Indians (which was the team the Padres traded Dave to in 1978) so Rebecca went to work contacting the Padres. On January 16, Rebecca contacted Sarah Farnsworth, Senior VP of Public Affairs, explaining that Dave – a Padres Alumni who pitched 13 shutout innings against the Reds on August 4, 1974 (a record that will likely never be broken) – was going to be at Spring Training and that we would love him to have the opportunity to throw out the Ceremonial First Pitch on March 8. Sarah said she would connect us with Dave Holtzman, Director of Communications. Dave Holtzman e-mailed Feb 15 to confirm that it was approved and there would be more info to come. Rebecca asked me to contact Freisy about throwing out the first pitch. I sent Dave a message on Facebook to call me regarding details for Spring Training. When Dave called, I told him about what we requested and that the Padres said he would throw out the first pitch for the March 8 game. Dave was excited and told me that he got “goosebumps” over the thought of being able to do it. All was set up. I would meet and spend 3 days with one of the Padres I grew up watching play ball and his son and my kids and my best friend Rebecca. I couldn’t wait!