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Mike Downey

No Place Is Quite Like San Diego

January 27, 1988|Mike Downey

SAN DIEGO — San Diego. Gateway to Ensenada. City of the big sailors. Butcher of infield grounders. Metropolitan area where La Jolla is pronounced as if a Frenchman were discussing a Georgetown basketball player. Home of Shamu, who is a whale, not a soccer player. Home of the America's Cup. Home of Super Bowl XXII. Los Angeles Jr.

San Diego is the city with the woman from the zoo who brings ocelots and wombats and marmosets and baby yaks that leave fur balls and go potty on Johnny Carson's lapels.

San Diego is the city that made its greatest single contribution to the world of professional sports when a local radio station hatched a giant promotional chicken.

San Diego is the city where the Chicago Cubs were kept from going to the World Series, which probably makes it the meanest city on God's green earth.

San Diego is the city that gave Los Angeles a professional basketball team known as the Clippers, a gift on the order of Rosemary giving the neighbors her baby.

San Diego is the city whose most heroic individual in the history of international athletics is a guy who smears zinc oxide on his nose and considers it a good day when his yacht doesn't hit a rock.

San Diego is the city that serves as host either to the Andy Williams Shearson Lehman Brothers San Diego Golf Classic or to the Robin Williams Righteous Brothers San Diego Golf Classic, I forget which.

San Diego is the city in which Tony Gwynn could be blindfolded, led to home plate and spun around three times, then single between short and third.

San Diego is the city that once a year provides superior college football entertainment when the fifth-place team from the Big Ten tackles some 6-5 outfit from Utah or Wyoming in the Holiday Bowl, which, as Dick Enberg traditionally reminds us, is the Great Grandson of Them All.

San Diego is the city that still doesn't have a song, even though San Francisco, San Jose, Galveston, Allentown, Kalamazoo, Atchison, Topeka, Santa Fe, Buffalo, Kansas City, Phoenix, Wichita, Jackson, Memphis and Pasadena have songs.

San Diego is the city where Ray and Joan Kroc, Burger King and Burger Queen, dressed up their baseball players in brown and yellow uniforms that, in the words of Steve Garvey, made them look like tacos.

San Diego is the city that named its multimillion-dollar sports stadium after a sportswriter, which ought to tell you something.

San Diego is the city where, when pitcher LaMarr Hoyt tried to sneak one across, it wasn't at home plate; it was at the U.S. border checkpoint.

San Diego is the city where Bill Walton once played. Or maybe it was twice.

San Diego is the city where baseball broadcaster Jerry Coleman once said, "Rich Folkers is throwing up in the bullpen."

San Diego is the city where baseball broadcaster Jerry Coleman once said: "There's a fly to deep center field. Winfield is going back, back! He hits his head against the wall! It's rolling toward second base!"

San Diego is the city where baseball broadcaster Jerry Coleman once said: "If you ask what the Achilles' tendon of the team is, it would have to be the pitching."

San Diego is the city that once appointed, as manager of the baseball team, Jerry Coleman.

San Diego is the city where Buzzie Bavasi, president of the Padres, once looked at another small crowd and said: "Heck, in Los Angeles 20,000 people would show up at the park accidentally, just to see why the lights were on."

San Diego is the city where, baseball broadcaster Bob Prince once said: "You have the Pacific Ocean to the west, Mexico to the south, the desert to the east and Vin Scully to the north."

San Diego is the city where former San Diego State basketball coach Smokey Gaines once said: "We were so poor, every time my mother tossed the dog a bone, he had to signal for a fair catch, or else us kids would beat him to it."

San Diego is the city where quarterback John Hadl of the Chargers, when asked if the crowd's boos bothered him, said: "No, I'm strictly a beer drinker."

San Diego is the city that once had a professional basketball team called the Conquistadors, which is still better than those goofy names they came up with for the expansion teams in Miami and Orlando.

San Diego is the city where at least one baseball pitcher belongs to the John Birch Society, and the rest of the team belongs to the John Doe Society.

San Diego is the city that is close to Del Mar, where the surf meets the turf, as well as close to Tijuana, where, if he's not careful, the tourist meets the jurist.

San Diego is the city that should have the Super Bowl again and again, since it will always be a neutral field.

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