MEXICO CITY — It was a long way from Petco Park in a number of ways — from the stadium at more than 7,000 feet above sea level to the food and culture of Mexico’s capital city.
People from across the two countries, and media from all over the world, were there to watch the Padres play the first-ever regular season Major League Baseball games in Mexico City.
“It means so much because here in Mexico City baseball is growing so much,” said Mexico City resident Alex Garcia. “There are so many leagues here in Mexico. And so many people want to play more.”
The atmosphere was thrilling on the field, with the barrage of home runs — and in the stands, with sombreros, mariachi, luchador masks and loud celebrations. Garcia called it “one big party.”
“You hear the chorus of all the people singing the song at the same time,” he said. “Also so many people are dancing around all of the ballpark. It's like they put on a song and everyone is dancing and singing and things like that, I think that's very cool here in Mexico.”
Fans supporting a number of MLB and Mexican baseball teams filled the sold-out Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú, but the majority were in Padres colors.
The stadium was covered with the Padres’ yellow, pink and teal City Connect jerseys inspired by Baja California.
“This is my people man, it takes me back to when I first broke into the business,” said WWE star and Chula Vista native Rey Mysterio Jr.
The professional wrestler was among a number of celebrities from both countries in attendance. He called the Padres the team of Mexico.
“Coming here and supporting my Padres, my home team, who I saw play when I was a kid, my dad used to take me all the time — it's very emotional,” Mysterio Jr. said. “It's very, very cool. It's a dope feeling.”
Oceanside resident Faviola Rodriguez flew out of the Tijuana International Airport for the two-game series.
“Even to try and get from the airport of Tijuana it was so packed and just seeing so many Padres fans, I was like ‘wow, this is amazing,’” Rodriguez said. “And I hope that they continue doing games out here."
Faviola Rodriguez’s father, and Tijuana resident, Juan Rodriguez said this series is a tipping point for the Padres and MLB baseball as a whole in Mexico.
He said Mexican Padres fans want to see this type of special event happen more often, in various cities throughout their home country.
“Tijuana is the other half of the Padres. If they make another game over there, all the people are going to be happy,” Rodriguez said. “Because a lot of people over there are Padres fans.”
For now, he and his cross-border family have their Mexico City memories.