It was a perfect sunny Thursday afternoon on April 1, and the fans could not keep their excitement in as they flocked into Petco Park for the first time in 553 days.
After a 2020 season that saw the San Diego Padres earn their highest win-percentage in franchise history, fans could not be more excited about finally getting to see their first of the new-look Friars.
“Just walking around the concourse, it felt packed… It felt like this place was jumping,” photo teacher Aaron Jaffe said.
San Diego fans were only at a 20 percent capacity, with 10,350 in attendance, but it sounded like 40,000+ with fans cheering loudly for each player, including star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. who signed a 14-year, $340M contract extension in February.
April 1 marked the first game with fans in attendance for many new Padres, including catcher Luis Campusano, outfielders Jurickson Profar, Tommy Pham, Jorge Mateo, and 2020 Rookie of the Year finalist Jake Cronenworth.
2021 Opening Day also included newcomers Keone Kela, Tucupita Marcano, Ha-Seong Kim, Victor Caratini and starting pitcher Yu Darvish.
The Padres’ biggest threat is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have won the National League West division every year since 2014, and are coming off their first World Series championship since 1988.
“Dodgers have always been the top dog in the west. We’ve always been the little brother. It’s good to see this rivalry of San Diego and LA actually feel like a rivalry now,” sophomore John Douglas said.
Since joining the orange tier, the capacity has reached 33%, and the Padres have added vaccinated or tested-negative sections for fans who have their vaccination card or proof of a negative test before sitting in the half-filled seats around the stadium and on each level of the ballpark.
Nonetheless, the Friar Faithful are very excited to return to Petco Park as 2021 is the most anticipated season in Padres history.