Day 1 of Spring Training Trip: March 6, 2014
We traveled to Yuma on Wednesday night (arriving just before midnight Arizona time) and got up early Thursday to drive the remaining way to Peoria – we were in texting communication with the Freisleben’s and knew they had landed in Phoenix.
When we pulled up to the hotel, Dave was outside with his son David Jr. We shook hands and headed into the Springfield Suites and check into our room. After settling in, we headed over to the Peoria Sports Complex to watch the Padres vs. Rangers game.
We knew the facilities had been remodeled and were curious about the changes. The outside of the Padres’ Offices looked great. The only problem was that they had moved the BASEBALL! For years we have made our picture in front of “that” ball … we would need to start a new tradition this year. We all took turns posing in front of the ball – let the new tradition commence!
We showed the Dave the Minor League and Major League practice facilities. We were looking for Jamie Quirk, who Dave wanted to say hi to, but we had no luck locating him.
We then walked over to the main field and got some Bloody Mary’s for the adults … found out Dave loves his Bloody Mary’s spicy (ah, a man after my own heart). We walked past the all-you-can-eat stand and of course, we couldn’t pass it up. $15.00 for all the burgers, hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, soda, and bottled water your stomach can inhale before exploding. After lunch, we walked around the park so Dave could check things out.
There was a stand in the ballpark that gauged how fast and how accurate you could throw a pitch to a mannequin hitter wearing a Dodger helmet. Wayne paid $5.00 and proceeded to throw 3 pitches like Ian Kennedy tossed to Zack Greinke… right in the head, which caused everyone to laugh. His last pitch was down the middle and his highest speed was 52 MPH (a big drop from his teen years). David Jr. got up and tossed fastballs that were at 71 MPH. We couldn’t get Dave to throw a pitch as he was saving his arm for bigger and better things.
We got to our seats right behind home plate and settled in for the game. Our phones started vibrating as we were getting Tweets from Gaslamp Ball, Padres Teri, Corey Menotti, Lincoln Timson and Mickey Koke that we were on TV with almost every pitch! We Tweeted the Padres to let them know Dave Freisleben was in the stands. Rebecca used her DirectTV app to record the game remotely and we snagged this pic of us at the game when we got back home to San Diego:
The game was a bit of dud as the Rangers scored 3 runs off Ian Kennedy in the first, helped by a ball lost in the sun and an infield hit. But – hey – it’s baseball! Life is good! We left our seats in the 5th inning to get some more all-you-can-eat stuff and came back in the 8th inning to finish the game from our seats. When the game ended, we caught up with Randy Jones, who was thrilled to see Dave and meet his son David. To see the smiles on Randy and Dave’s faces was heartwarming. You could tell they were more than former teammates, they were friends. We took some pictures and made plans to eat dinner the next day. We left the ballpark happy in spite of the Rangers winning 8-4.
After a very forgettable Mexican dinner at a local restaurant (Arriba – can’t really recommend anything but perhaps the 99 cent happy hour margarita), we came back to the hotel and invited Dave and David up to our room for some wine, which they happily accepted. Dave brought each of us his 1974-1980 baseball cards signed and we gave Dave a black and white negative of him on the field at San Diego Stadium along with prints of the negative.
Rebecca opened a bottle of 50 Barrels 2011 Cab Franc and we settled in and started talking about his career.
We turned on the recorder as Dave discussed his 13 shutout innings in 1974 against the Reds. He threw 230 pitches that day, a feat no current major league pitcher would even attempt today. Dave talked about the team, Padres owner Ray Kroc, Randy Jones, his trade to Cleveland, and his last year in Toronto, where he started the season as their closer. Dave discussed how an arm injury ended his career. He also talked about The San Diego Chicken and how the team enjoyed watching his antics in the stands and couldn’t wait to see what he would do next.
After retiring from baseball, Dave became a police officer and then went back into coaching with the Texas Rangers for 2 seasons but decided to go back into law enforcement because as a coach “I didn’t see my kids for 9 months of the year.” David Jr. sat there and listened the whole time taking it all in. Some of what his dad told us David hadn’t heard before and he was happy to hear it and were blessed to be a part of it all. Based on how David turned out, Dave made the best decision. It touched our hearts to know a man who loved baseball as much as Dave would step away to be at home more with his kids. That thought was with us all weekend of the trip and Wayne’s respect for his boyhood hero grew more and more.