On the third day of our Dominican Republic trip, we took a bus to the San Diego Padres academy in Najayo just in time for their game against the Blue Jays. When we first arrived, I was blown away by the complex. The academy has multiple practice fields as well as a beautiful complex where the players eat, sleep and train. We watched the game and unfortunately the Padres fell to the Jays 4-3. I could not believe the passion that these kids played with. After the Blue Jays held on to their one run win, they celebrated on the field like they had just hit a walk off home run at their own field. Apparently the Blue Jays are a Dominican League rival to the Padres and as expected the Padres players were not happy about the loss or the celebration on their field. After the game, we had a tour of the facility which ended with a little batting practice. I believe my classmates and I all embarrassed ourselves on that field as we could barely hit the ball out of the infield if we made contact with the bat at all.
We were able to return to the Padres facility again on day 5 of the trip for a BBQ dinner with the players. This was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. It was great to be able to sit with the players and just talk about baseball and life. All the players have a story to tell and it was fascinating to learn about their backgrounds and how they got signed by the Padres. After dinner, a game of stick ball broke out that included my classmates as well as the Padres players. This was my favorite night of the trip and we are very grateful to the Padres organization for letting our class visit their academy.