2014 Over The Line (OTL) World Championship!

Arriving at the long-time OTL venue on Fiesta Island.
Arriving at the long-time OTL venue on Fiesta Island.

Shame on me. I’ve lived in San Diego a good chunk of my life, and I’ve never headed to Fiesta Island to experience the legendary fun of OTL. Well, I finally went early this morning!

Over The Line, commonly called OTL, is a San Diego original, a unique beach game that every year seems to gain in popularity. Played on the sand, it resembles a simple version of softball with no baserunners. You must hit the ball over “the line” and between two foul lines, and not have it be caught, which would result in an out. Three innings, three outs. While the rules are a bit more complicated, that’s the gist of it.

The OTL World Championship has become a local institution.  It’s played on Fiesta Island, which is located near the center of Mission Bay. It’s put on by OMBAC, the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club. The highly anticipated annual summer event is now 61 years old! But you might never guess this spectacle was so venerable, given its outlandish party atmosphere and the sheer raunchiness of the crowd.

Team names are often juvenile and sexually explicit, to the extent you’d probably just roll your eyes. But it’s all very good-natured and amusing. The crowd is composed largely of males in their 20’s and 30’s, and beer is chugged freely everywhere, as it’s BYOB. I suppose as the day progresses, the crowd becomes more randy–I’ll admit that’s one reason I swung by so early in the morning. That and the avoidance of a hot afternoon!

The tournament goes on for two weekends. This first weekend is for the amateurs; on the second weekend the teams and the play become more serious.

I’m glad I checked it out. Now I know what I’ve missed all these years!

Follow me as I arrive from the shuttle bus around seven in the morning. The sun hasn’t broken through the clouds yet…

Old Mission Beach Athletic Club truck and banner.
Walking past an Old Mission Beach Athletic Club truck and banner.
People stand as day begins with the national anthem.
People stand as day begins with the national anthem.
Official OTL programs for sale near the entrance.
Official OTL programs for sale near the entrance.
Miss Emerson Headquarters is on sandy Emerson Street.
Miss Emerson Headquarters is on sandy Emerson Street.

As you might guess, there’s a bikini contest, and every year the winner is titled Miss Emerson.

Scoreboard for 61st World Championship of Over The Line.
Scoreboard for 61st World Championship of Over The Line.
Players and teams check the official schedule board.
Players and teams check the official schedule board.
Early in the morning many people are arriving.
Early in the morning and many people are arriving with chairs and coolers.
The OTL tournament doesn't begin until seven thirty.
The OTL tournament doesn’t begin until seven thirty.
San Diego Parrot Head Club lounge is still empty.
San Diego Parrot Head Club lounge is still empty at this early hour.
Guy checks out some silly, raunchy posters.
Guy checks out some silly, very raunchy posters.
A player practices fielding a batted ball.
A player practices fielding a batted ball.
The huge tournament finally begins in earnest!
The huge OTL tournament finally begins in earnest!
OTL ball is to be struck into a narrow outfield.
Ball is to be struck into a narrow outfield.
Lots more people will arrive throughout the day.
Lots more people will arrive throughout the day.
Some old guys just kicking back on the sand.
Some old guys just kicking back on the sand.
Marines from color guard pass on an OMBAC cart.
Marines from opening ceremony color guard pass on an OMBAC cart.
The t-shirt gardens shack is becoming more active.
The t-shirt gardens shack is becoming more active.
Hundreds of games of OTL will be played here over two weekends.
Hundreds of games of OTL will be played here over two weekends.
San Diego's sunny Fiesta Island is the home to Over The Line.
San Diego’s sunny Fiesta Island is the home to Over The Line.

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Gaslamp shops prepare for 2014 Comic-Con.

Horton Plaza has display cases welcoming Comic-Con.
Horton Plaza has display cases welcoming Comic-Con.

Two weeks to go until this year’s San Diego Comic-Con! During my walk downtown today I saw that a few shops, bars and restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter have begun to get ready. A couple signs are up and a few windows are painted. Horton Plaza shops have many wares ready to sell. I suspect in the coming week, major preparations will seriously get underway. I’m looking forward to see what surprises pop up!

Batman and Star Wars showcased for coming shoppers.
Batman and Star Wars showcased for coming shoppers.
Bookstore in Horton Plaza has cool stickers and posters in their window.
Bookstore in Horton Plaza has cool stickers and posters in their window.
Justice League appears ready to fly off a shirt!
Justice League appears ready to fly off a shirt!

I altered the above photo a bit to make the superheroes really jump out!

Superman in Gaslamp window with Doctor Who salt and pepper set.
Superman in Gaslamp window with Doctor Who salt and pepper set.
The Dark Knight watches from a historic Gaslamp building.
The Dark Knight silently watches from a historic Gaslamp building.
Gaslamp bar painted with Superman and POW word balloon.
Gaslamp bar window painted with Superman and POW word balloon.
The Chuck Jones Gallery really doesn't need more.
The Chuck Jones Gallery really doesn’t need anything more.
These San Diego Comic-Con signs will be everywhere!
These San Diego Comic-Con signs will soon be everywhere!

UPDATE!

Here come more pics taken in the days leading up to Comic-Con! You’ll notice the Chuck Jones Gallery finally got a funny sign up!

Boom Shop seems to be created for San Diego Comic-Con.
Boom Shop seems to be created for San Diego Comic-Con.
Even ACE Hardware is feeling heroic!
Even ACE Hardware is feeling heroic!
Wile E. Coyote holds Chuck Jones Gallery sign!
Wile E. Coyote holds Chuck Jones Gallery sign!
Batgirl costume on mannequin in local shop.
Batgirl costume on mannequin in a typical local shop.
Yogurt sign with Hulk, Supergirl, Spidey and Batman!
Yogurt sign with Hulk, Supergirl, Spidey and Batman!
Wolverine comic book on a t-shirt.
Wolverine comic book on a very cool t-shirt.

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Most patriotic San Diego on the Fourth of July.

Uncle Sam invites passersby into a Gaslamp bar.
Uncle Sam invites passersby into a Gaslamp bar.

San Diego recently made the news as America’s most patriotic city, according to a popular social media network. It doesn’t surprise me. San Diego has more military installations and a higher concentration of veterans than any other city in the United States.

So on the Fourth of July you might expect to see a whole lot of patriotism. You’re right!

Tonight one of the biggest firework displays in the country will take place on San Diego Bay. Right now, people are filtering into the area around the bay to claim viewing spots, have barbeques and picnics, and get themselves ready for the Big Bay Boom, until the number will reach hundreds of thousands.

This afternoon I walked around the Gaslamp and the Embarcadero. Here come some pics!

The streets of San Diego filled with patriotic sights.
The streets of San Diego’s Gaslamp District filled with patriotic sights.
Shop window in the Gaslamp filled with American flags.
Shop window in the Gaslamp filled with American flags.
Friendship and brotherhood on an American pier.
Friendship and brotherhood on the Embarcadero Marina Park South  pier.
Boat decked with Fourth of July bunting.
One of many boats decked with Fourth of July bunting.
The bayfront parks are crowded with tents and celebrating Americans.
The bayfront parks are crowded with tents and celebrating Americans.
Thousands along San Diego Bay enjoy barbeque and play.
Thousands along San Diego Bay enjoy barbeque and play.
People have claimed spots to watch tonight's fireworks on the bay.
People have claimed spots to watch tonight’s fireworks on the bay.
Street performer poses with red, white and blue.
Street performer poses with red, white and blue.
Many in the crowd are wearing patriotic clothing.
Many in the crowd are wearing patriotic clothing.
USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strung with festive colors.
USS Carl Vinson, an active aircraft carrier, strung with festive colors.
A display on the Embarcadero of historic diving equipment.
A display on the Embarcadero of historic diving equipment.
Young man near USS Midway speaks to retired Navy diver.
Young man near USS Midway speaks to retired Navy diver.
Just kicking back on a beautiful Independence Day.
Just kicking back on a sunny San Diego Independence Day.
The Patriot speed boat is fit for the occasion.
The Patriot speed boat is fit for the occasion.
Cool pedicab driver gives a peace sign on Fourth of July.
Cool pedicab driver gives a peace sign on Fourth of July.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Comic-Con banners!

Gamora of Guardians of the Galaxy on a banner.
Gamora of Guardians of the Galaxy on a cool banner!

I took these quick photos this morning during a meandering walk through downtown. 2014 San Diego Comic-Con is only three weeks away!

A couple days ago I saw a San Diego trolley with an awesome Gotham television show wrap. I didn’t whip out my camera fast enough, unfortunately. Next time I have a chance, I’ll snap a pic and post it!

I started this blog last year, just a few weeks after Comic-Con had ended, so this year I plan to get a load of interesting images! Stay tuned!

Star-Lord in action on a San Diego Gaslamp street lamp!
Star-Lord in action on a San Diego Gaslamp street lamp!
Groot and Rocket are ready to fight cosmic evil.
Groot and Rocket are ready to fight cosmic evil.
Drax on a cool San Diego Comic-Con sign.
Drax on Comic-Con banner near San Diego Convention Center.
Big Hero 6 banners line Broadway in downtown San Diego.
Big Hero 6 banners line Broadway in downtown San Diego.

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Tony Gwynn’s Memorial Tribute at Petco Park.

Tony Gwynn on video screen at Petco's Park at the Park.
Tony Gwynn on video screen at Petco’s Park at the Park.

Tonight I joined thousands of other San Diegans at Petco Park to honor the late Tony Gwynn, the greatest Padres player ever…and one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the sport.

I apologize that my camera takes very poor long distance shots. There were many speakers paying tribute to Tony, and my photos of the distant stage and podium came out terribly.

A few photographs seem to have captured the spirit of the occasion. Here they are…

San Diegans pay their respects at the Tony Gwynn statue.
San Diegans pay their respects at the Tony Gwynn statue.
Flowers, messages and memorabilia from loving fans.
Flowers, messages and memorabilia from loving fans.
Child reaches up to touch number 19.
Child reaches up to touch number 19.
Padres fans enter the stands before Tony Gwynn memorial begins.
Padres fans enter the stands before Tony Gwynn memorial begins.
Anthony Keith Gwynn, the greatest Padre ever.
Anthony Keith Gwynn, the greatest Padre ever.
Thanks for the memories, Mr. Padre.
Thanks for the memories, Mr. Padre.
Thousands gather long before the memorial tribute starts.
Thousands gather long before the memorial tribute starts.
Thank you signs and poignant gestures from the crowd.
Thank you signs and poignant gestures from the crowd.
White doves are released near the stage as program begins.
White doves are released near the stage as program begins.

Nineteen doves were released after a choir opened the service, singing: “I’m not here, but I’m not far. My spirit lives on.”

Ted Leitner remembers Tony and introduces many guests.
Ted Leitner remembers Tony and introduces many guests.

Ted Leitner, long-time Padres radio announcer, said that we’d never forget the greatest hitter of his generation. He then asked the crowd to provide one last standing ovation. During the memorial tribute, Ted played a recording of Tony’s unforgettable laugh from a cell phone.

There were scores of distinguished guests, and several speakers remembered Tony Gwynn for the cheering crowd.

Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, gave a Yankee salute to Tony and his family. San Diego’s mayor spoke, and so did the Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball. Tony La Russa and Joe Torre stood up in the VIP section to loud applause. On the big video screen, tributes were offered by former teammates and opponents alike. In old videos, Tony Gwynn was treated with respect by contemporary baseball greats, including Mike Schmidt, Cal Ripken, Greg Maddux, Tommy Lasorda and many others.

Every guest speaker at the memorial seemed to agree that Tony was an inspiration to all those around him. To many he was a mentor, and to all he was a friend.

Tony Gwynn is remembered as a great player and great man.
Tony Gwynn is remembered as a great player and great man.
After the ceremony, number 19 remains on field.
After the ceremony, number 19 remains on field.
Petco Park slowly empties after tribute ends.
Petco Park slowly empties after tribute ends.

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Anthony Newman plays the Spreckels Organ.

People arrive early to get good seats for tonight's organ concert.
People arrive very early to get good seats for tonight’s organ concert.

Mere pictures and words are inadequate to describe the fantastic concert I enjoyed this evening in Balboa Park. Tonight was the first Monday concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion of the Summer International Organ Festival.

The special guest organist was Anthony Newman, widely considered one of the foremost Baroque musicians in the United States. He’s made countless recordings, won numerous awards, performed at New York City’s prestigious Lincoln Center more than 60 times, and was described by Wynton Marsalis as “The High Priest of Bach.” Tonight’s concert, I’m glad to say, was jam packed with Johann Sebastian Bach–my absolute favorite composer!

Anthony Newman seemed superhuman at times. He played difficult pieces with ease, crispness and energy.  It was flawless poetry and simply amazing.  The concert was over much too soon!

Here are a few pics!

Spreckels Organ Society membership table and a smile.
Spreckels Organ Society membership table and a smile.
Anticipating first concert of Summer International Organ Festival.
Anticipating first concert of the Summer International Organ Festival.
Big banner on Organ Pavilion's colonnade announces the event.
Big banner on Organ Pavilion’s colonnade announces the free event.
Rolling out the red carpet for great organist Anthony Newman.
Rolling out the red carpet for great American organist Anthony Newman.
Flag and a bronze plaque of the historic pavilion.
Flag and a bronze plaque of the historic pavilion.
Beautiful pavilion is a treat for the eye in changing light.
Beautiful building is a treat for the eye in changing light.
Elegant peek by organ assistant at the growing crowd.
Elegant peek by organ assistant at the growing crowd.
Dr. Carol Williams, civic organist, announces guest musician.
Dr. Carol Williams, San Diego’s Civic Organist, announces guest artist.
Famed Baroque organist Anthony Newman greets audience.
Famed Baroque organist Anthony Newman greets audience.
A masterful performance on the Spreckels Organ begins.
A masterful performance on the Spreckels Organ begins.

Those pipes you see on the left side of the stage form the new Centennial Tuba rank, soon to be added to the Spreckels Organ for its one hundredth anniversary on New Year’s Eve!

Anthony Newman acknowledges enthusiastic applause.
Anthony Newman acknowledges long, enthusiastic applause.
KUSI television cameraman records a portion of the event.
KUSI television cameraman records a portion of the event.
The lights come on in the twilight and the pavilion becomes magical.
The lights come on in the twilight and the pavilion becomes magical.
There are 1400 embedded lights in the main structure and colonnades.
There are 1400 embedded lights in the main structure and colonnades.

The Spreckels Organ Pavilion was built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. You can observe similar plaster ornamentation on the Spanish Colonial Revival style buildings that line El Prado, in the center of Balboa Park.

Night descends and people stretch their legs during intermission.
Night descends and people stretch their legs during intermission.

My camera is worthless at night, so I recorded only half of the evening.  But the music throughout was amazing!  What a brilliant start to the 2014 International Organ Festival!

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Lots of yummy food at San Diego County Fair!

Every kind of yummy food at the San Diego County Fair.
Every kind of yummy food at the San Diego County Fair.

Holy macaroni! I want to eat everything in sight! Much of it is deep fried, most is super sugary, and it all appears delectably scrumptious! At the big San Diego County Fair, which takes place every year at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, all sorts of tasty food are easily found. Food stands are waiting for you in every direction! It’s a shame my blog doesn’t feature savory smells. You’d press your nose right up next to the screen!

Fresh squeezed lemonade in the Fun Zone.
Fresh squeezed lemonade in the Fun Zone.
Funnel cakes and bacon donuts!
Funnel cakes and bacon donuts!
Tecate beer at Plaza de Mexico.
Tecate beer at Plaza de Mexico.
Visitors feast at picnic benches during the 2014 Fab Fair.
Visitors feast at picnic benches during the 2014 Fab Fair.
Lots of ribs, burgers and colossal curly fries.
Lots of ribs, burgers and colossal curly fries.
Caramel apples, cupcakes, and Indian fry bread.
Caramel apples, cupcakes, and Indian fry bread.
Hot dogs and sausages on sticks!
Hot dogs and sausages on sticks!
Eating on the run with so much to see and do!
Eating on the run with so much to see and do!
Giant smoked turkey legs and roasted corn.
Giant smoked turkey legs and roasted corn.
Turkey legs are popular at the San Diego County Fair.
Turkey legs are popular at the San Diego County Fair.
Chicken and waffles, fried Oreos, zucchini curls!
Chicken and waffles, fried Oreos, zucchini curls!
Gotta sit down my stomach is so full!
Gotta sit down my tummy is so full!

Is your stomach growling yet?

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