Padres unveil Joe Musgrove no-hitter mural at Grossmont High School
Team worked quickly with artists, school district to commemorate historic achievement
The calls started around the third inning Friday when Darryl Mendoza, Padres director of fan engagement, noticed starting pitcher Joe Musgrove was having little trouble retiring Texas Rangers batters.
“I thought to myself, ‘He might be able to do this,’ ” Mendoza said, referring to the chance of a no-hitter.
He immediately floated the idea of commemorating the moment with a mural at Grossmont High School in El Cajon, Musgrove’s alma mater. He ran it past Chris Connolly, Padres senior vice president of marketing, and CEO Erik Greupner, who gave his approval to commission the mural after the history-making final out. A call was made in the seventh inning to Paul Jimenez and Signe Ditona of Ground Floor Murals, who furiously loaded their car with paint (and the next morning, loaded themselves with coffee) before getting the approval from the Grossmont Union High School District to begin work on one of the quickest projects they ever created.
On Wednesday, the Padres unveiled the mural, a 30-foot high brown-and-gold piece on the back of the school theater. Based on a picture taken immediately after the final out, the mural features Musgrove in a triumphant yell, celebrating the first no-hitter of his career and the first in Padres history. A gold chain moves across his neck as he pumps his right fist, the No. 44 emblazoned on the wrist of his uniform. The words “…Meant to be...” are written to the right of him, an ode to his hometown roots.
“What’s so special about this image in particular is that’s how we all felt,” said Ditona. “All of us who were watching the game felt that way when it happened. To see the passion, the ferocity, it’s really nice that we’re able to encapsulate that.”
Musgrove was able to see the mural via FaceTime with his family Sunday morning, a call the Padres arranged.
“It’s so cool,” he said. “It’s such an honor to be recognized in my own city but also at my high school, where I continue to go back and try to have an impact on the baseball organization there and teach some guys some of the things I learned at that age, that I felt took my game to the next level. And it’s just a cool thing, to be able to tell my friends and tell my kids one day. … I was extremely thrilled to see it.”
The mural was completed 48 hours after the no-hitter ended, a testament to the work put in by the artists as well as the ability to cut through the red tape involved — everything from insurance to the type of paint — which often slows the process of new installations in school districts.
“This definitely was a project that happened a lot faster than most,” said Grossmont High School principal Dan Barnes, who noted it wouldn’t have been possible without the collaborative efforts from Theresa Kemper, superintendent of the Grossmont Union High School District, and the Padres. “Literally minutes after the final out, the Padres reached out to us. It was great to work together.
“The mural is incredible and it’s going to be here for a long time, so it’s an opportunity for our students to see a quality person find success and be a champion,” Barnes added. “That means a lot for our community and our students.”
Musgrove visits his alma mater as often as possible, making a point to speak to the baseball team and also donate cleats, a gesture important to him as he remembers how difficult it was to afford new equipment when he was in high school.
“He comes out all the time when we have practices and we all go say hi to him,” said Max Cadwalader, a senior who plays center field for the Foothillers. “He’s a really nice guy. Being in major league baseball, it takes a lot, and being able to take time out of your day and help other kids and your community, it’s a huge thing. ... There’s such pride to all of it. I can say, ‘Joe Musgrove played at this school and we’re carrying on his legacy. We’re going to keep playing hard.’ ”
Added Carissa Pinnix, who went to school with Musgrove: “Joe was always one of those guys that you knew was going to make it far. He was always so humble and friends with everyone. He was a role model to many. It’s definitely a great week to be a Foothiller.”
The Padres noticed artists Jimenez and Ditona, both native San Diegans and Padres fans, when the couple created a popular mural of Tony Gwynn in City Heights last fall. The two worked to execute the Musgrove piece as quickly as possible, getting four hours of sleep the first night before finishing Sunday evening. It was the quickest they ever finished a mural of that size.
“It was a beautiful 48 hours,” said Jimenez. “We just want to say thank you to everybody and thank you to San Diego. The response has been amazing. As an artist, just our artwork being seen, it means so much to us. For us to be able to commemorate such a historic event, it’s an honor. This is a dream come true.”
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