It might not have been a sell-out, but it felt like one.
Nearly 4,000 baseball fans came to Diamond Stadium, home of the 2011 California League Champions the Lake Elsinore Storm, for an afternoon exhibition game between the San Diego Padres and Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
It was a unique lineup of Big League players and Minor League theatrics. And the crowd, indulging in the fare and fun of any ballpark, were keyed in.
“It’s beautiful. Great time. Sun shining. Nothing like sunshine and baseball,” Lake Elsinore resident Mike Golovich said.
Temecula resident Oscar Alatorre, 28, was holding his 5-month-old son Oscar while both were sporting Padres gear.
“I’m a huge fan,” Alatorre said.
As for little Oscar, well, “he will be,” Alatorre said.
“I’m actually happy they had a preseason game here in Elsinore,” said Alatorre, thanks to its proximity to his home. “I think (the Padres) are going to make playoffs.”
The Padres lost 7-6 to the Royals, but Big League plays, perfect weather and excitement for the start of the season kept local fans content.
“It’s just neat to come out and watch some real live baseball,” Menifee resident Sarah Morris, 50, said.
“We always try to come out and watch as many games as we can,” said Morris, a staunch Storm supporter.
In addition to ticketholders, Storm executives were happy with all of the baseball enthusiasm visible at the game.
“Today was great,” Storm president Dave Oster said. “It was great to have the Big League guys up here. Beautiful day at the ballpark. Great way to start the season.”
Storm assistant general manager Tracy Kessman agreed that the exhibition game featuring two Big League teams — a first at the Diamond — was a nice way to jumpstart the season at the local ballpark.
“I think there was good energy,” Kessman said. ” There was a lot of excitement. It was a stadium full of baseball fans. It was just a good way to start our 2012 season.”
The Storm’s season begins Thursday with the 7:05 p.m. game against the Stockton Ports.
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