When told to shout “Gerstle Park! Sun Valley!” to get the Padres’ 2013 team MVP’s attention during batting practice, my friends and I were clearly blinded by baseball fever … or perhaps obscured by optimism. For there we were 2 hours before game time, noses poked through the outfield fence, hands full of baseballs and San Diego memorabilia and just the right pens for autographs scanning the field for Will Venable. And, when we spotted the guy who looked like it might be him trolling center field, the chant begun. And on this beautiful day in April, the baseball gods were with us. In the first verse of our song Will turned, waved and jogged over.
Will’s hometown (which happens to be my current neighborhood) and grade school (my kids go there now) did the trick. And while the 20/20 season Will had in 2013 is a rare achievement, my friends and I were as impressed by his humility, kindness and intelligence. Some say this comes from his Princeton education … I’m sure it comes from his family and hometown of San Rafael. The San Diego Thrill took the time to talk with us and made autographing keepsakes for our children, children’s children and current Little League teams look like it was his pleasure. To Gerstle Park’s own Will Venable, mahalo for being a ballplayer and a gentleman.