Baseball flags debut at historic Lane Field Park!

Two of three huge banners that celebrate the history of baseball at San Diego's Lane Field. On the left you can see Ted Williams, one of the greatest Major League Baseball hitters of all time, taking a swing.
Two of three huge flags that celebrate the history of baseball at San Diego’s old Lane Field. On the left you can see Ted Williams, one of the greatest Major League Baseball hitters of all time, taking a swing.

Three huge, colorful flags will soon be flying above Lane Field Park. They were created by local artist Lisa Schirmer in a coordinated effort between the Port of San Diego and the Hensel-Phelps Construction Company. They celebrate the history of baseball at Lane Field.

The vivid banners, which Lisa calls windglyphs, are titled Spirits of the West Wind. They feature two images of baseball legend Ted Williams and one of Eddie Erautt. Both played baseball at long-vanished Lane Field, which was located in downtown San Diego right next to the water.

Ted Williams was perhaps the greatest Major League hitter of all time. The baseball legend was born in San Diego. Early in his baseball career he played for the Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres at Lane Field, helping his team win the PCL pennant in 1937.

Eddie Erautt pitched three and a half seasons for the PCL San Diego Padres. He went 16-12 in 1954 when the Padres were PCL champions and 18-10 in 1955.

Images of the players on two windglyphs were based on photographs in Bill Swank’s book Echoes from Lane Field.

I love how large, bright and colorful these flags are, and how they celebrate an important page in San Diego baseball history. Bill Swank says the way they billow reminds him how the wind would blow off San Diego Bay and carry home runs over the right field wall of Lane Field, to bounce onto Pacific Highway. Many great memories where made here.

This Wednesday, there will be an official unveiling of the colorful banners at 8:30 am. I was fortunate to get a preview today, during a flag-raising rehearsal for the coming event.

Enjoy some photos!

Three colorful windglyphs created by San Diego artist Lisa Schirmer fly above Lane Field Park.
Three colorful windglyphs created by San Diego artist Lisa Schirmer fly above Lane Field Park.
Rehearsal of a flag raising. The public art unveiling ceremony takes place later this week. That unfurled banner shows Ted Williams fielding a ball. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Rehearsal of a flag raising. The public art unveiling ceremony takes place later this week. That unfurled banner shows Ted Williams fielding a ball. Artist Lisa Schirmer stands on the left. Photo courtesy of Bill Swank.
Local baseball expert Bill Swank shows his book Echoes from Lane Field, which recounts the early years of San Diego baseball and the Padres.
Local baseball expert Bill Swank shows his book Echoes from Lane Field, which recounts the early years of San Diego baseball and the Padres.
The banner depicting pitcher Eddie Erautt is based on one of these old baseball photos.
The banner depicting pitcher Eddie Erautt is based on one of these old baseball photos.
On the center banner, Eddie Erautt pitches the ball.
On the colorful center banner, Eddie Erautt winds up to pitch the ball.
The wind adds life to a wonderful baseball memory. Ted Williams is taking his classic swing.
The wind plays with a baseball memory. Ted Williams seems to come alive as he takes his classic swing.
Action photo of Ted Williams used by Lisa Schirmer in one windglyph. Photographer: Heber Epperson. Courtesy of Autumn Durst Keltner.
Action photo of Ted Williams used by Lisa Schirmer in one windglyph. Photographer: Heber Epperson. Courtesy of Autumn Durst Keltner.
Baseball memories take flight in the San Diego sky at Lane Field Park!
Baseball memories take flight in the San Diego sky at Lane Field Park!

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Strength and determination in wheelchair rugby.

Today I watched some of the world’s best athletes compete. I headed up to Balboa Park to experience the 28th Annual Best of the West Quad Rugby Tournament in the Municipal Gymnasium. Most people know the sport as wheelchair rugby, or murderball. That last name sounds rather tough, but it’s for a good reason.

The quad rugby players that participated in this tournament are among the best in the world. Some have competed in the Paralympic Games. There were teams from California, Arizona, Texas and Minnesota, and even from London and Australia. The amazing team from Australia was this year’s Best of the West champion.

At the very top level, wheelchair rugby players are unbelievable athletes. They are strong, fast, agile, and can turn and accelerate on a dime. To block opposing players, trap them defensively, or upset an unfolding strategy, players will literally smash their chairs into one another. As if in some sort of crazy demolition derby, the bashing wheelchairs sometimes tip sideways, even turn over. And the players don’t seem fazed in the least. Each is an irresistible force, determined to assist their teammates and find a way through the opposition to score, no matter how.

Here are a few photos that capture a bit of the action.

The composition of one photograph turned out to be exceptionally dynamic, but the image was completely unfocused, so I altered it to appear like a cool oil painting.

You really have to see quad rugby in person to appreciate the heart of these players.

Raw human determination can be unstoppable.

Watching quad rugby is inspirational.

For an explanation of quad rugby, click this photo and it will expand for easy reading.
For an explanation of quad rugby, click this photo and it will expand for easy reading.

The victorious Australian quad rugby team celebrates by joining hands.
The Australian quad rugby team celebrated their championship by forming a circle, joining hands and rocking the gymnasium with a spirited, victorious shout!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Photos of Extreme Sailing on San Diego Bay!

Super fast GC32 catamarans fly through and above San Diego Bay during an Extreme Sailing Series 2017 race!
Super fast GC32 catamarans fly through and above San Diego Bay during an Extreme Sailing Series race!

Today I headed over to Harbor Island to check out the Extreme Sailing Series races out on San Diego Bay. The exciting Ultimate Stadium Racing Championship takes place over eight weekends, in eight international cities. Elite teams from countries around the world sail identical, super fast GC32 catamarans, which at their highest speed actually fly above the water!

I was amazed at how close some of the action was. A good crowd of people watched a sequence of relatively short races from the shore of Harbor Island, and from the Race Village, while announcers described exactly what was happening out on the water. When the catamarans flew by, many cheered for their favorite team!

The event continues through Sunday. Except for the VIP section, everything is free and open to the public!

I got a few decent photos!

Boy points toward fleet of high-tech foil-equipped catamarans manned by elite level teams. Another wild race is about to begin.
Boy points toward fleet of high-tech foil-equipped catamarans manned by elite level teams. Another wild race is about to begin.
A crowd watches the free Ultimate Stadium Racing Championship event from Harbor Island's festive Race Village.
A crowd watches the Ultimate Stadium Racing Championship event from Harbor Island’s temporary Race Village. Viewing is free!
Some of the best sailors in the world, many who've won Olympic Gold, various world championships, and the America's Cup, vie for supremacy in San Diego.
Some of the best sailors in the world, many who’ve won Olympic Gold, World Championships, and the America’s Cup, vie for supremacy in San Diego.
The Extreme Sailing Series includes stadium racing competition in eight international cities. San Diego is Act 7.
The Extreme Sailing Series includes stadium racing competition in eight international cities. San Diego is Act 7.
The race announcers add character and deep knowledge to an already exciting scene.
The race announcers add spice and sailing knowledge to an already exciting scene.
The SAP Extreme Racing Team out of Denmark seemed ahead of the pack nearly every race. They've already been the winner in 3 cities.
The SAP Extreme Sailing Team out of Denmark seemed ahead of the pack in nearly every race. They’ve already been the winner in 3 cities.
Once the catamarans attain sufficient speed, they become airborne, maintaining control with foils!
Once the catamarans attain sufficient speed, they become airborne, barely maintaining control with foils! Gusts of wind in the sails can really make these racing craft sway!
Lots of people were enjoying the VIP section.
Lots of people were enjoying the VIP section.
The Race Village features many vendors and organizations. US Sailing has a scavenger hunt for kids.
The Race Village features many vendors and participating organizations. US Sailing has a fun scavenger hunt for kids.
Young people compare how different sail arrangements produce speed.
Young people compare how different sail arrangements can produce speed.
A large diagram provides a guide to the amazing GC32. Each team's vessel is exactly alike. Skill and strategy determine victory.
A large diagram provides a guide to the amazing GC32 catamaran. Each team’s vessel is exactly alike. Skill and strategy determine ultimate victory.
Legend beneath the diagram explains various key parts of the GC32, including the J-Foils, which create lift.
Legend beneath the diagram explains various key parts of the GC32, including the J-Foils, which create lift. (Click image to enlarge.)
Our local Team Extreme San Diego was making a great showing! San Diego has produced many of the world's top sailors.
Our local Team Extreme San Diego was making a great showing! San Diego has produced many of the world’s top sailors. (Need I mention Dennis Conner?)
Beautiful sailboats do battle on San Diego Bay, with the downtown skyline providing a picturesque background.
Beautiful sailboats do battle on San Diego Bay, with the downtown skyline providing a picturesque background.
The crew of each vessel is a highly skilled athlete. The action is wild and fast-paced!
The crew of each vessel includes many highly skilled athletes. The action is wild and fast-paced!
A dance upon sparkling water.
A dance upon sparkling water.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Star Wars lightsaber combat at Maker Faire!

This member of the San Diego Sabers has personally made many lightsabers. Some examples lie on the group's table during Maker Faire in Balboa Park.
This member of the San Diego Sabers has personally made many lightsabers. Some examples lie on the group’s table during Maker Faire in Balboa Park.

The last couple of years at Maker Faire San Diego I’ve watched a group of Star Wars enthusiasts entertain audiences with lightsaber duels. They have engaged in their elaborate play on the main stage, swinging their illuminated lightsabers in mock combat, to rousing music from the Star Wars movies.

This year, as I walked around Maker Faire, I happened upon this group’s cool lightsaber exhibit. These local Star Wars fans call themselves the San Diego Sabers. They are one of many similar groups all around the world that make their own lightsabers and engage in mock combat.

I asked all sort of questions and learned more than I expected. Most of the extremely elaborate lightsabers used by the members produce colored light, illuminating a long clear tube that can be attached, thereby appearing much like the Jedi and Sith weapons made famous in the movies. Most of the mock weapons also generate that distinctive lightsaber sound. I learned that it’s also possible to order a variety of lightsabers from several online vendors.

Regional competitions are often held between groups, and the method of scoring is similar to that used in fencing. The sport is lightning fast, highly athletic and incorporates various styles of martial arts. The San Diego Sabers provide demos free to the public, teach all ages including kids (often using foam lightsabers for safety), and encourage acceptance, respect, and a positive attitude.

And it’s obvious they have a lot of fun!

Many DIY lightsabers are surprisingly elaborate, generating light and sound, while appearing as authentic as any movie prop.
Many DIY lightsabers are surprisingly elaborate, generating light and sound, while appearing as authentic as any movie prop.
The San Diego Sabers provides full contact lightsaber training based on fencing, HEMA, Kendo and Wu-shu. Kids are welcome and it's free!
The San Diego Sabers provides full contact lightsaber training based on fencing, HEMA, Kendo and Wu-shu. Kids are welcome and it’s free!
Someone picks up one of the cool lightsabers on display.
Someone picks up one of the cool lightsabers on display.
Members of the San Diego Sabers demonstrate mock combat using foam attachments. Together they've got enough lightsabers to take on General Grievous!
Members of the San Diego Sabers demonstrate mock combat using foam attachments. Together they’ve got enough lightsabers to take on General Grievous!
A kid checks out one of the cool lightsabers. As you might have noticed, I took these photos on two different days during Maker Faire San Diego.
A kid checks out one of the cool lightsabers. As you might have noticed, I took these photos on two different days during Maker Faire San Diego.
Kids have a lot of fun with the foam lightsabers.
Kids have a lot of fun with the foam lightsabers.
Members of the San Diego Sabers arrive at the Maker Faire main stage in the Plaza de Panama. A combat exhibition is about to begin.
Members of the San Diego Sabers arrive at the Maker Faire main stage in the Plaza de Panama. A combat exhibition is about to begin.
As Star Wars music plays, two members of the San Diego Sabers simulate an epic battle between the Jedi and Sith.
As Star Wars music plays, two members of the San Diego Sabers simulate an epic battle between the Jedi and Sith.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Cool art at the Washington Street Skate Park!

Look at these photos! You’ll be surprised by some of the super cool art that greets local skateboarders at the Washington Street Skate Park!

I’ve always known there was some sort of outdoor art near this public skateboard park–many times I’ve glimpsed it while passing by on the trolley. So this morning I finally decided to check it out.

And I was blown away!

In addition to some simple metal rebar art along the enclosing fence, there’s a bunch of awesome mosaic tile artwork near the skatepark’s east entrance and on a dark, seldom seen wall along unused railroad tracks under Interstate 5. The above photo with the large word RESPECT was taken as I stood on the other side of the tracks. The additional photos you see were taken from a closer range.

There’s even more cool art inside the Washington Street Skatepark (which is also known as WSVT) and my camera captured one example of it. But unfortunately the park was closed this morning, so I couldn’t explore further.

In case you want to see this surprising art for yourself, the Washington Street Skate Park is located under Interstate 5 between historic Mission Brewery Plaza and Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Look for the intersection of West Washington Street and Pacific Highway, northeast of Lindbergh Field.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

9/11 Firefighter’s legacy: Two Sons and Stickball.

Tampa Chargers huddle up during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers huddle up during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy. Photo by Margie Jones.

An important event in San Diego history took place over the Labor Day weekend. It involved a firefighter hero who saved lives during 9/11, his two sons, and the game of stickball.

The following inspirational article is contributed by Margie Jones of 4 Heroes 4 Life:

The 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy was one of the largest in its 19 year history with a field of 16 teams, four from New York and one from Tampa Bay, Florida. New York transplant Bob Ortiz and a group of players brought the Bronx-style tradition of street baseball to California in the early 1990s, later passing the torch to brothers Louie and Joey Centanni.

This year’s tournament held a special meaning for the San Diego and New York stickball communities, bringing the return of Skylar and Austin Mercado, sons of former Emperor’s Stickball League President Steve Mercado. Mercado and his family brought the team to San Diego from the Bronx in 2001 when the boys were 6 and 2 years old. The Mercado family made a lasting impression on many San Diegans, including SD City Firefighter and Stickball League Commissioner Willie Blas and Fire Marshal Mark George. After saying their goodbyes, Steve returned to NYC and went straight to work on 9/11, courageously saving lives. He was one of 12 of 13 from Engine 40 and Ladder 35 to lose their lives on that day, along with over 400 NYC first responders.

This weekend, Skylar and Austin Mercado brought the legacy of their Dad and Grandfather to Stickball in San Diego. Their team, the Tampa Chargers, was undefeated going into the Championship Game on Monday but could not best the local Sultans of Swat, who took home the trophy this year. We hope the Mercados experienced the outpouring of love and support for these two fine young men, their family, and the entire NYC community of heroes.

So that Steve and all heroes on that day will be NEVER FORGOTTEN, Mark and Willie as sponsored by 4 Heroes 4 Life and Veteran Adventures will be hosting a 9/11 NEVER FORGOTTEN Charity Golf Tournament and Community Extravaganza on September 11. Proceeds of the event will benefit the Steven Mercado Foundation, and funds for Engine 40 and Ladder 35, and the NYC Emergency Fund. This is the first of an annual event on 9/11 as an opportunity to bring community together in support of our fallen heroes and for our nation’s healing. Please join us. Register or donate here.

Commemorative bat honoring 9/11 firefighter Steve Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Commemorative bat honoring 9/11 firefighter Steve Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers' Austin Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers’ Austin Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers' Skylar Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers’ Skylar Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Power hitting. Photo by Margie Jones.
Swinging with heart on a San Diego street. Photo by Margie Jones.
2017 Championship Game final score. Photo by Margie Jones.
2017 Championship Game final score. Photo by Margie Jones.
Stickball family. Photo by Margie Jones.
Stickball brings many together. Photo by Margie Jones.

Photos from the Labor Day Stickball Tournament.

Batter gets ready to swing during the Labor Day Stickball Tournament in San Diego. Sixteen teams, including five from the East Coast, played over two days.
A batter gets ready to swing during the Labor Day Stickball Tournament in San Diego. Sixteen teams, including five from the East Coast, played over two days.

I watched some of the action today at the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy. This annual San Diego tradition–which has been going on for 19 years now–includes West and East Coast stickball teams competing for glory. Even a slight drizzle couldn’t stop the intense street action!

I took some photos while enjoying a few of the games. A good crowd lined the sidewalks to watch play on three different street blocks in Little Italy. Stickball in San Diego seems to be growing in popularity–at least it appears that way to me!

Every year the event seems to grow. Many were lining the sidewalk watching a very exciting stickball game.
Every year the event seems to grow. Many people were lining the sidewalks watching action-packed stickball games. The dog barked excitedly with every great play.
Banner for the Nineteenth Annual Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy, sponsored by Mission Federal Credit Union.
Banner for the Nineteenth Annual Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy, sponsored by Mission Federal Credit Union.
Cars head down the nearby street as a game is in progress. It rained a little bit today, as you can see.
Cars head down the nearby street as a game is in progress. It rained a little bit today, as you can see.
Running for home in front of the San Diego Firehouse Museum during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament.
Running for home in front of the San Diego Firehouse Museum during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament.
Playing hard, with a smile. Good times, good people.
Playing hard with a smile. Good times, good people.
A big grid of teams this year for the stickball tournament. Just from personal observation, the event seems to grow every Labor Day weekend.
A big grid of 16 teams this year for the stickball tournament. Just from personal observation, the event seems to grow every Labor Day weekend.
A player stretches, a team huddles.
A player stretches as a team huddles. The play on hard asphalt is blazing fast and fierce.
Getting ready to be a stickball hero!
Getting ready to be a stickball hero!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!