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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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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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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Drama and music in Balboa Park’s Zoro Garden.

Actors rehearse A Nation of Pain in Balboa Park's small Zoro Garden.
Actors rehearse A Nation of Pain in Balboa Park’s small Zoro Garden.

Today during my walk through Balboa Park, I noticed that the small Zoro Garden has become a venue for summer weekend entertainment. Usually the shady, sinuous, amphitheatre-like garden is left to the butterflies, who flutter here and there in sunbeams above ragged beds of colorful flowers.

As I walked down, actors were rehearsing for a comedic play on the bare dirt center of the garden. At two o’clock a musical performance began, and I listened while chowing down on a polish sausage. I love Balboa Park!

Garden Theatre Festival takes place during the summer in Balboa Park.
Garden Theatre Festival takes place during the summer in Balboa Park.
People enter the seldom-used, charming Zoro Garden.
People enter the seldom-used, charming Zoro Garden.
This was a nudist colony during the 1935 California-Pacific Exposition!
This was a nudist colony during the 1935 California-Pacific Exposition!
Butterfly among flowers in the small Zoro Garden.
Butterfly among flowers in the small Zoro Garden.
Zoro Garden dedicated to butterflies in 2007.
Zoro Garden dedicated to butterflies in 2007.
Jennie Buss' Band plays warm-hearted music for onlookers.
Jennie Buss’ Band plays warm-hearted music for onlookers.
Folks enjoy a musical performance in Balboa Park.
Folks enjoy an intimate musical performance in Balboa Park.

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Starlight Bowl sign: A season that never came.

Starlight Bowl sign and the season that never came.
Starlight Bowl sign and the season that never came.

On the south side of Balboa Park, at the edge of a canyon next to the San Diego Air and Space Museum, you’ll find this rusting sign.  It remains hopeful above the shuttered ticket windows of the Starlight Bowl, once home to the San Diego Civic Light Opera.  The sign announces a 65th season that never came.

A couple years ago the San Diego Civic Light Opera went bankrupt.  Which is a shame.  For a long happy time during the warm summer months the outdoor theatre featured musicals and other popular productions.  I remember watching the Pirates of Penzance and the Taming of the Shrew here when I was very young.  The coolest thing I remember was how the actors would all freeze and shows would be suspended for several seconds when noisy, low-flying airplanes approaching Lindbergh field passed directly overhead.

Display glass near entrance which used to show upcoming productions is vacant.
Display glass near entrance which used to show upcoming productions is vacant.
The outdoor Starlight Bowl has an audience of weeds.
The outdoor Starlight Bowl has an audience of weeds.

I walked around to one side for a view of the beloved Starlight Bowl and held my camera above a chain link fence for the above photo.  The outdoor stage now has an audience of weeds.

Side view of the Starlight Bowl, which has been sadly abandoned for years now.
Side view of the Starlight Bowl, which has been sadly abandoned for years now.

Padres fan gear vendor outside Petco Park.

padres fan gear vendor outside petco park

Late this morning, loads of Padres fans anticipating a great baseball game were entering Petco Park from its east side. Before filing through the gate and past the cool new Jerry Coleman memorial, they passed this colorful vendor. All sorts of Padres gear was on display for supportive fans.

Sunny summer days of baseball are full of life, sounds, smells, color and pageantry. Going to a Padres game in San Diego is always a fun experience, win or lose!

Padres fans converge on Petco Park for another baseball game.
Padres fans converge on Petco Park for another baseball game.

I took a couple more related pics at the beginning of the 2015 season…

Any vendors at this entrance on opening weekend of the 2015 season are hidden by lots of excited fans!
Any vendors at this entrance on opening weekend of the 2015 season are hidden by lots of excited fans!
This smiling entrepreneur set up shop on a sidewalk a couple blocks from Petco Park.
A smiling entrepreneur set up shop on a sidewalk a couple blocks from Petco Park.

Beautiful photo of San Diego River.

the beautiful san diego river

This photograph was taken several mornings ago while I walked through Mission Valley. It looks west from Mission Center Road along the San Diego River.

The bright green, I believe, is Yerba Mansa.

People are often surprised that such a beautiful, peaceful scene can be found in a busy city. Had I turned the camera in any other direction, I might’ve captured buildings, shopping centers, cars and several freeways. So much depends on the direction in which we turn…

Here are two more pics which I took in late February 2015…

The San Diego River Trail follows natural beauty through Mission Valley.
San Diego River Trail follows natural beauty through Mission Valley.
Taking a look at the river from the other side of Mission Center Road.
Taking a look at the river from the other side of Mission Center Road.

Blue sky, white clouds reflect on skyscraper.

blue sky and clouds reflected on skyscraper

This photo turned out pretty good! Wish I could say it was the result of incredible photographic skill! But I must admit to being lucky once in a while…

This dazzling downtown skyscraper, not far from the Santa Fe Depot, reflects the deep blue summer sky and broken white clouds in a truly spectacular way! Look closely, and you can also see the reflection of the One America Plaza building which stands directly across Broadway.

I love that most of the newer skyscrapers in San Diego are a shiny silver or blue or green–like gleaming ocean waves rising above the sandy tan-colored buildings at their feet. The color scheme gives the skyline a watery cool, light and inviting appearance.

Here come two fun pics I took of the same building on a later date…

Reflection on glass skyscraper of America Plaza across Broadway.
Reflection on shiny glass skyscraper of One America Plaza across Broadway.
Three tall buildings reflect from downtown San Diego window.
Three tall buildings near Santa Fe Depot reflect from downtown San Diego window.