SAN DIEGO – Opening Day for the San Diego Padres was a historically empty affair with only cardboard cutouts of fans in the seats to take in the team’s 7-2 victory over the Diamondbacks.
But there was little difference for Chip Messenger, perched high above Petco Park’s left field scoreboard to take in a game few will be able to see in person this year.
His condominium in the Legend building on Seventh Avenue has a private balcony with a view right into the stadium, prime real estate in a year of modified professional sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Messenger recently shared a photo of his view on social media, prompting calls from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
“The minute I walked in, I knew this is the place I needed to be,” he said.
Messenger said he typically watches much of the Padres regular season slate. His vantage point likely is to be the envy of baseball fans across the country due to a sightline to see the sport in person, even in a pandemic-shortened season.
That makes the games a little sweeter this year, knowing that he and a few dozen others in the city will be able to take in the sport they love.
But he’s also willing to share the view. Messenger recently reached out to longtime Padres broadcaster Bob Chandler to assist the team’s No. 1 fan continue a streak that dates back decades.
“This is the start of the Padres’ 52nd season, so this is my 52nd Opening Day,” Chandler said.
Chandler has been a mainstay in the San Diego market for many years, having covered local sports full-time since 1963. He joined broadcaster Jerry Coleman in the booth in the early 1970s and was associated with the team through 2003. He’s also written a book about the franchise: “Bob Chandler’s Tales from the San Diego Padres Dugout.”
Chandler said the Padres are fielding a great team for 2020, currently tied for first place in the National League West division with only 59 games left to go.
“Enjoy just enjoy the season I’m sure the television ratings will be great,” said Chandler.