As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, when I travel out of town – especially during baseball season – I always try to find something baseball-related to do. So, when I was in San Diego, besides looking for the former home of the San Diego Padres, I went looking for some minor league baseball. Fortunately, the Lake Elsinore Storm were in town and only about 60 miles from San Diego. In California-traffic terms, that’s two hours away (though it only took an hour to get back). But the journey was well worth the time.
The Lake Elsinore Storm likely has its roots in the 1979 Santa Clara Padres, which was a co-op team in the California League. Although not affiliated with any one team, the team received players from the Mariners, A’s Padres, Angels, and Cardinals. While some sources say there is a direct link, the record shows that the Santa Clara team was not in the league after the 1979 season and the Redwood Pioneers appeared in 1980. The Pioneers were another co-op team, with players from the Indians, Padres, A’s, Angels, White Sox, and Pirates. In 1981 the Pioneers became the Class A affiliate of the California Angels. The team moved to Palm Springs for the 1986 season and became the Palm Springs Angels. In 1990, they were upgraded to Class High-A. In 1994, the team relocated to Lake Elsinore, California, about an hour north of San Diego. They switched their affiliation from the Angels to the Padres in 2001.
This week they were hosting the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes – an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Years ago, on another one of my baseball adventures, I’d gone to see the Quakes at their own stadium, then known as the Rancho Cucamonga Epicenter. Since I’d seen them before and love the Los Angeles Dodgers, heading out to Lake Elsinore to add another stadium to my list all-time list of stadiums visited was a no-brainer.
It turned out to be a really good game. The Storm scored first in the bottom of the 2nd inning, but the Quakes scored a run in the top of the 4th. In the top of the 6th, the Quakes tied the game. In the bottom of the 8th, the Quakes scored again – on a home run by Edward Olivares. The Storm’s lead would not last long, however. Cristian Santana tied the score again in the top of the 9th with a single. The next player doubled him in for what would turn out to be the winning run.
My Lake Elsinore baseball experience reminded me a lot of my many trips to see the Frederick Keys, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The stadiums are similar, as is the 1-hour drive from civilization. I guess I found my home away from home!