SAN DIEGO — Thursday will mark the 50th consecutive Padres home opener a San Diego mother and son will attend together. It’s a tradition they didn’t know they started, but has stood the test of time.
The Padres joined Major League Baseball in 1969, and just a few years later, Carole Salazar and her son Vic started a tradition, which will hit a huge milestone at this year’s opening day.
“The streak started at Opening Day in 1974 and the Padres were under new ownership with Ray Kroc, there were 37,000 people at San Diego Stadium and we were among them,” Vic said.
They both agree the feeling and energy on opening day is magical.
“Everyone has the same hopeful anticipation that this is the year, no matter how bad it was the previous year, and I just feel that every time,” Carole said.
“We’ve been through a lot of bad teams over the years, and the greatest thing about opening day is you have that hope that this is going to be the year,” Vic said.
The mother-son duo has made countless memories to last a lifetime and recalled an iconic moment from their very first home opener together.
“There was a streaker who came out from left field,” Carole laughingly said.
Vic corrected her, “right field.” Carole added, “and the only thing he was wearing were shoes.”
They’ve also witnessed history.
Fifty years is a long time for one tradition, but there is still one more tradition they are still waiting to make together, a World Series win.
“I hope the team wins a championship before I go to the big Padres in the sky,” Vic said.
Carole was emotional when asked what it means to have this tradition with her son. The bond they share is indescribable. “I love you boy,” Carole said, “still a boy.”
Carole and Vic have seen a lot change in 50 years, from the stadium, players, managers, coaches and how technology has changed the way you attend a baseball game, including buying tickets.
Carole said she remembers when she had to call the Padres and request a form in the mail to buy tickets, she would send a check, and get tickets in return, but she never knew where the seats would be ahead of time.
That’s also a time when tickets were much, much cheaper.
“I have a ticket stub that Randy Jones signed when he clinched the National League ERA title and that ticket stub shows I paid $1.50 for the game,” Vic said.
Carole said in the 70s, the whole family could park and attend the game for about $10.
Even when the Padres were on a losing streak, Vic and Carole never broke theirs, although there were a few years it was difficult to maintain, including when Vic’s son had a swim tournament in Texas. Luckily, it ended up being an early opening day game and they were able to catch a flight out the same day to make it to the swim meet.
There was one other year where it was physically impossible to attend opening day at Petco Park, but still they worked around the impossible.
“We were determined to document the fact that we were here even though we couldn’t be inside, but that we were actually at Petco Park for opening day,” Vic said.
They took a photo outside Petco Park, wearing masks, to document the unusual opening day, still holding the number signs, but with an asterisk.
It’s a tradition neither of them plan to ever break.
“It means everything, he wants to be with mom, that’s a gift in itself, we will keep it going, his dad is gone, so it’s just us,” Carole said.
Vic, Carole and their family and friends have a suite for their 50th Opening Day on Thursday at Petco Park as the Padres take on the Colorado Rockies at 6:40 p.m.