While support of the military community has been a priority and year-round effort of the Padres, the club's Sunday afternoon tribute to the armed forces has become a staple at PETCO Park.
"Our goal in wearing these uniforms is to honor the military," said Padres President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Garfinkel. "We couldn't imagine a more appropriate place to unveil these than at the Military Appreciation Luncheon, where the service men and women we pay tribute to were able to get the first look at our new jerseys. This was a great opportunity to thank them and show that we appreciate their sacrifice."
Mat Latos, Will Venable, Heath Bell and Nick Hundley made a surprise visit at the luncheon, putting on a mini fashion show for all in attendance.
As the "Team of the Military," the Padres have proudly donned camouflage jerseys since 2000, beginning with the Army woodland design from 2000-05 and the Navy Seals pattern from 2006-10. New in 2011, the club is wearing digital camouflage jerseys, modeled after the pattern currently worn by U.S. Marines.
Replicas of the new camouflage jerseys are available at the Padres Store in PETCO Park. Each one features an official approval from the Marine Corps.
Padres' staff, players and alumni were in attendance throughout the weekend at Torrey Pines, including manager Bud Black and 1976 Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones, along with current players. Sporting their new duds, they enjoyed the tournament from the Military Appreciation Pavilion, overlooking the 14th Green on Torrey Pines' South Course.
The grandstand, open only to active duty military and their families, provided a spectacular view of the weekend's action. Spectators enjoyed complimentary food and beverages while taking in the sights and sounds of a PGA tournament.
"It was a really good time and an incredible experience," said Venable. "The Padres recognize all the military does for our country and as players, we are grateful for the chance to show our appreciation in any way we can. The tournament allowed us to thank them face to face."
Padres fans of all ages were able to enjoy the experience as well, with a special Padres grandstand located adjacent to the Military Appreciation Pavilion. The grandstand was open to all spectators who wore their Padres gear to the tournament.
Bubba Watson took home the victory at this year's tournament, shooting a final-round 67 on the South Course to edge San Diego native and local favorite Phil Mickelson. Mickelson finished the tournament one stroke back in second place.
"I had a blast," says Bell, whose father was a Marine. "It was really cool to meet with the service men and women and show them how much we appreciate them. You could see their faces light up when they saw us wearing their uniforms. There is a sense of pride when you take the field in the camouflage."
"I think we made a few new Padres fans that weekend."