Where else can you see the Grounds Crew Gorilla spank Padres catcher Eddy Rodriguez during game play against the Kansas City Royals?
Nowhere but The Diamond Stadium ...
that was a prelude to Thursday night’s Storm Baseball season opener against the Stockton Ports.
“It’s not very often that you get to see two major league teams play at a minor league stadium,” said Canyon Lake resident Jim Wagoner, who turned out for Wednesday’s exhibition game with his wife and three young children. “I’m glad we came. This is very cool.”
That’s music to Storm Baseball General Manager Chris Jones’ ears.
“The biggest compliment I hear is when somebody says, ‘I don’t know what the score was, but we sure had a good time at the game.’”
Tearing around the stadium during Wednesday’s game, Jones -- now in his 10th season with the Storm -- kept a frenetic pace. Between keeping tabs on his two youngest sons, Tanner and Bryce, who were all about the stadium’s Fun Zone -- “Tanner, how much of this game have you watched?” “Um, one inning.” – and receiving a couple of game bats from former Storm player and now-Padres outfielder Kyle Blanks, Jones looked like he always does: An All-American baseball-loving dad.
“You get caught up in the rut of everyday life,” Jones said. “But you come here with the kids, and you smile. Sometimes we lose that.”
Jones said the Storm Baseball organization is about crazy family fun.
Crazy sometimes being key.
Take “We’ll give you Rally Cop and the Grounds Crew Gorilla for Tim.”
“We have one of the most creative staffs in Minor League Baseball,” Jones said with a big grin. “Ownership has a lot to do with that.”
Jones said Storm owners Gary Jacobs and Len Simon, along with Storm President Dave Oster, give staff a great deal of creative freedom. The loose reins paid off last year when Storm Baseball
The top brass also encourage staff to give back to the community, something Jones takes very personally.
“The community supported me when Bryce needed a bone marrow transplant,” Jones explained. “They were there.”
On Wednesday, little brother Bryce was busy goofing off like any other kid at The Diamond.
In Lake Elsinore, Storm Baseball has made an impression. Reading programs, blood drives, food drives, and support for the school district are just a few of the many Storm programs that give back to the community.
Not all Storm fans know about the organization’s good deeds, but there’s a vibe in The Diamond that’s different.
“We can’t control whether the team wins or loses, but we can control the atmosphere here. I saw it during last year’s championship run. It was very powerful,” Jones reflected of the fans and
The emotion was present Wednesday afternoon when Blanks stopped by the office to give Jones a couple of game bats. Ice packs over his shoulders, the big-leaguer handed Tanner a cracked game bat that got a hit, and the three guys – pro player, general manager, and 9-year-old kid – talked baseball.
The boys of summer are back …