FMX Meets Baseball in the San Diego Sunlight
It was seven o’clock sharp, dusk in beautiful downtown San Diego. The warm, orange light of the sun was setting over the lush green grass of Petco Park, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I was getting ready to throw out the first pitch of a San Diego Padres baseball game, and I’m not even a mayor, dignitary or major movie star; just a freestyle motocrosser who loves to put on a good show in front of a big crowd. The opportunities I’ve come across in this line of work never cease to amaze me, and events like this were something I used to only dream about.
This whole thing started five years ago, when I had a vision that freestyle moto demos and shows would become more popular than contests. With that vision came the idea to build my own ramps and create a demo tour. I partnered up with longtime friend and fellow rider Tommy Clowers and went to work creating what is now called TNT Action Sports. We have two complete sets of ramps, a 35′ Concept Hauler motor home, PA systems, employees, and a full-blown touring schedule like a rock group or something! We do demos all across the world, but our main focus is a 40-stop Red Bull tour, which is what brought us back to our hometown of San Diego on this perfect summer day.
The Petco Park event was amazing. Just beyond the outfield fence of the baseball field is what’s called “the park in the park.” This is typically a place where kids play catch, or where people throw down a blanket and watch the game. Our ramps were set up on the cobble stone walkway between the field and the actual park, leaving the grassy hill in the park as the perfect viewing area for a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 6,000 people. We were also viewable from about 90% of the stadium and broadcast live on every Jumbotron in the place.
Tommy Clowers, Jake Windham, Jimmie McGuire, and I were the riders for the demo, and we did two shows that day. The first one was a private performance for the baseball team and its accompanying staff. Star players like Trevor Hoffman and Woody Williams were eating it up, and it was an amazing feeling to impress athletes of this caliber. After that first demo, we got a chance to hang out with the players for a bit. They were amazed at the stuff we were doing and gave us major props. Surprisingly, several members of the team ride dirt bikes and had seen FMX on TV before-though never live-and they all agreed that it’s a lot different seeing a FMX demo live and up close.
We went back to the hotel for a while to rest up for the show, then later in the afternoon got back to the stadium and down to our locker room below. The four of us got dressed, listened to some music and got focused for such a big show. We walked to our jump area about 15 minutes before show time, and when we got to the ramps I was completely blown away. The whole viewing area in the park was already packed. As soon as they saw us walking up, they started cheering and yelling. I knew at this point that the demo was going to be off the hook. We had a little time before the show, so we all hung out with the fans and signed autographs before throwing our helmets on.
As soon as we started the bikes, the entire crowd started clapping and yelling; it was obvious that they were more than ready to see some FMX! We warmed up a little bit by riding around the area, and McGuire got the crowd pumped before we started jumping by doing stoppies. After rider introductions, it was time to get the show on the road. From the time we did our first jump to the last jump twenty minutes later, the crowd never stopped cheering. They were so loud and energetic that it made all of the riders push it a little harder. We all rode really well and put on a great show, and it was one of the most entertaining demos I’ve ever done.
After riding around the perimeter of our area and slapping hands with the fans, we put our bikes on their stands and had to head down to the field. Accompanyingg us was a little army of security guards as well as the Padres staff, which escorted us into the underbelly of the stadium. After about a ten-minute walk, we emerged on the field at home plate with about five minutes left before we were scheduled to throw out the first pitch, so we killed some time chatting with the players and taking pictures with the mascot. At this point I was definitely getting nervous about throwing out that pitch. I hadn’t thrown a baseball in at least five years! Luckily, we were all going to line up and throw the first pitch simultaneously, so we would all be embarrassed together…
Once the national anthem was played, the stadium announcer introduced us and called us to the mound. We ran out dressed in full riding gear, and lined up at our designated spots. At this point my heart was racing faster than it was when I was jumping in the demo. I kept telling myself not to throw short of the plate. I’d much rather throw the ball 10 feet over the catcher’s head than deal with the harassment my buddies would give me if I didn’t make it to the catcher. Apparently Jake was thinking the same thing, because when the signal for us to throw the ball was given, Jake almost threw it into the seats! Clowers, McGuire, and I all successfully made it to our catchers. I may not have thrown a strike, but I was relieved when my catcher caught it with no problems.
With all of the riding and PR obligations done, we headed back to our locker room to change and relax for a few minutes. We made it up to our seats around the third inning, and commenced scarfing down hot dogs, drinking beer, and singing “Take me out to the ball game” with the rest of the baseball fans. The night came to a perfect end when our new friend and Padres closer Trevor Hoffman came in and saved the game with a 2-0 Padres win over the Diamondbacks. What a day!
SAN01: Jimmie McGuire takes to the San Diego skies with a huge cliffhanger. Steeerike one!
SAN02: Tommy Clowers fits perfectly into the San Diego skyline with this Indian Air Seat Grab on K Street.
SAN03: Got balls?
SAN04: Watch out, the Red Bull softball team means business…
SAN05: Jake Windham kisses death in front of 6,000 screaming fans.
SAN06: Damn, Tilt, is that a whip or a 360? Jeff Tilton tosses his KTM sideways at Petco Park.