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As another season comes to a close for a cellar-dwelling ball club, fans have little to cling to.
Sure, the Padres have a young corps. But until it reaches its potential, there isn’t a lot to root for, or a lot to enjoy during the depressing fall months. The respite is regaling friends with stories of Tony Gwynn, or basking in the memories of former greatness and age-old traditions of the grand old game.
One of these traditions was the appearance of a live organ player underscoring the highs and lows of the game. Most teams did away with the tradition in the 1990s in favor of slickly produced video packages and hi songs. But back in 2010, the Padres decided to reintroduce the organ player, albeit on a limited basis, and Bobby Cressey was ready to take the job.
“I had just moved back to San Diego and had no gigs lined up. I was playing a few places here and there, and then a friend told me the Padres might be looking for an organ player and I thought – I need that gig,” Cressey said.
In 2010, the Padres held a season ticket-holder forum to talk about promotions for the upcoming season. One of the main speakers was then-president Tom Garfinkel, who announced the team would be doing Throwback Thursdays and bringing in an organ player.
Cressey introduced himself and handed Garfinkel his card. The next day, he called the Padres’ office to make sure the right people got his information. Then he waited for a call that never came.
“So I sat down and started making a demo tape with songs I thought would sound cool on the organ, like the theme from ‘Super Mario Bros.,’” Cressey said. “I sent it in, and a few weeks before the season started I got called in to audition.”
A few days later, Cressey was hired to be the first semi-regular organ player for a Padres game since Danny Topaz left the job for health reasons in 1985.
He played fewer than 10 games during that first season.
“But it was awesome,” Cressey said.
The Padres and fans agreed — and every season since, the team has added Cressey to more games. In 2016, the team added all Sunday games to his schedule, then asked him to be available for every event at Petco during the 2016 All-Star Game Weekend.
Cressey’s organ setup is very accessible to fans. Season ticket-holders and people from the Padres Twitterverse often come up and chat during games. Some request songs, some just want to say hi or take a photo with “the organ guy.”
“There’s one older fan, Ed – he’s a disabled Vietnam vet who takes the train down from Anaheim for almost every home game,” Cressey said. “He sits and waits for me to set up. We talk for a minute, and then he heads to his seat. He just likes to catch up.”
Traditions keep baseball stable in our ever-changing world, and Cressey said he understands how important his role is to the game and fans.
“Baseball is so much about history, and I’m just honored to be a part of it,” he said.
— Dallas McLaughlin
You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.
DIY Projects on Display
Local and traveling makers — or tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers and other DIY-type folks — will be showing off their projects at this weekend’s Maker Faire San Diego in Balboa Park.
The ticketed family-friendly event will include a wounded veteran who’s built prosthetics for cats; new works by San Diego Code Kitchen, a collective of new media artists whose recent pieces explore the perceptual phenomenon called synesthesia; San Diego’s beloved bionic giraffe and more.
Artist and writer Richard Gleaves is also among the hundreds of exhibitors. Gleaves, a provocateur whose projects often include a bit of mystery, intrigue and social commentary, says he’ll be exhibiting an interactive project titled “Real-Time Generative Modeling of Large-Scale Public Artworks with Integrated Seating.”
“I’ll be demonstrating an open-source analog modeling system, which can be used to generate a virtually infinite number of models for large-scale public artworks which incorporate public seating as a functional element,” Gleaves wrote in a description about his project. “Faire attendees will be given the opportunity to use the modeling system themselves, to create their own designs for public art.”
Building a Theater Company, Remembering Bat Boy and Other Arts and Culture News
• In the latest episode of VOSD’s “I Made it in San Diego” podcast, VOSD contributor Dallas McLaughlin talks to Kristianne Kurner about the ups and downs of building a successful theater company in Carlsbad.
• Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer gave the Union-Tribune 10 things to love about the San Diego Symphony’s upcoming season.
• Remember Bat Boy of ’90s tabloid fame? Now there’s a musical about him, and it’s playing at the OB Playhouse. (KPBS)
• San Diego Musical Theatre’s production of “Billy Elliot” has scored yet another positive review. The show closes Sunday. (Times of San Diego)
• Listen to an interview with musician and community organizer Real J Wallace, who’s active in the Barrio Logan arts scene, in the latest episode of “Cura Caos,” the Voice of San Diego Podcast Network show that features interviews with creative folks from both sides of the border.
• The La Jolla Art & Wine Festival is happening Oct. 7-8. (Pacific Magazine)
• See works by San Diego State University faculty and students at a gallery in Logan Heights on Friday.
• Howard Kushner, professor emeritus at SDSU, has written a new book on the history and myths of left-handedness. (KPBS)
• Street artist JR installed a large image of a child’s face on the Mexican side of border wall, and lots of people have been trekking to Tecate to take their picture in front of it. Here’s the story behind the kid featured in the work. (CityBeat)
• A collaborative art exhibition featuring artists with developmental disabilities from San Diego and across the United States is opening at Sophie’s Kensington Gallery on Saturday.
• The lack of affordable places for artists and other creatives in San Diego is a problem. (T.Vivant)
• The San Diego Opera just announced a new series of cool-sounding events meant to demystify its 2017-2018 season. Meanwhile, the San Diego Ballet is offering dance and desserts at an event to introduce its upcoming season.
• Archtoberfest is in full swing with its array of interesting architecture and design events happening across the city all month.
• South Park is still one of San Diego’s most charming little neighborhoods. Scope out some of its offerings during the fall walkabout event Saturday.
• The art pros at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego are leading casual talks about contemporary art at The Lot in La Jolla.
• The Port of San Diego pulls out all the stops for its ongoing series of cultural events along the waterfront (the last one I attended had free espresso drinks and ice cream). At noon Saturday at Pepper Park in National City, Fern Street Circus will perform, and gourmet popcorn and other goodies will be served.
Beer, Booze and Food News
• If you’ve never treated yourself to the inventive craft cocktails at Grant Grill, now is the time. (San Diego Magazine)
• Mission Brewery is offering fans a chance to own a stake in the business. (Union-Tribune)
• Learn more about Craft Beerd, a local beer art company, in the latest episode of Voice of San Diego Podcast Network show “Beer Talk Radio.”
• Chef Accursio Lota of Solare Ristorante just won a big competition, and you can taste the pasta dish that won him his prestige this week. (Eater)
• The Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido is closing, but not for good. The 37-year-old theater will reopen in fall 2018 with a return to live musical theater. (Union-Tribune)
• The Dusty Rabbit is a signature cocktail contest happening in the Gaslamp that invites y’all to be the judge.
• This French bistro is nearly perfect. (San Diego Magazine)
• There’s no shame in enjoying bite-size cake balls. (Reader)
• Whoa, a San Diego duo has raised nearly $40,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to fund their project making vintage measuring cups used to measure fancy craft cocktails.
• Drink old beer this weekend.