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At Padres home opener, organ player, celebs are on top of their game

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The stars weren’t all on the field on March 29 at Petco Park — some were in the stands.

One of the best seats for Padres Opening Day was on the south side of the upper deck where an aging 1978 Yamaha wood organ sits atop its own raised stage. At the keyboard was musician Bobby Cressey.

This is his ninth year of playing tunes before the start of daytime home games — between innings, during the Seventh Inning Stretch, and whenever the Padres hit a foul ball. Cressey loves opening day because fans are in such a good mood. “They are so excited to be here.”

He tries to include music that appeals to a mix of generations. On Opening Day, he shifted from The Doors, to Frank Sinatra, then a song from the ’90s, followed by a Beatlestune. If it rains, he’s apt to switch to Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

Cressey wears only one shoe because he needs to work the organ pedals with just a sock on his left foot. Although he refuses to accept “tips” from Padres fans, upon occasion he has discovered money deposited in his unworn shoe at game’s end.

The organist is less circumspect when it comes to food, though. Cressey is happy to accept culinary contributions from fans. “I love to eat,” he grinned.

Jerseys bearing the names of Eric Hosmer, Trevor Hoffman and Kazuhisa Makitawere top sellers at the Padres gift shop. The retro ’90s uniform design of orange, blue and white pinstripes is proving to be the hot color combo this season. But the most popular sales item Thursday was the Padres/Brewers Opening Day pin. They were so in demand, in fact, that the main store sold out early in the game.

Jackie Foster, a TV contestant on “The Voice,” won praise for her respectful and solid, no frills-and-trills rendition of the national anthem. The day before she had returned to her alma mater, Poway High School, to visit teachers and students.

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Rob Kaechele, her former digital media production teacher, told followers to keep watching “The Voice” on NBC. “Who knows, maybe today’s visit may find its way on there!” he tweeted.

The stars weren’t all on the field. Some were in the stands. Tom DeLonge, co-founder of blink-182 and now lead singer and guitarist for Angels & Airwaves, was another musician from Poway at the game. Former Charger player Nick Hardwick, now a radio host on XTRA1360, was in the stands, and so was new Padre first baseman Eric Hosmer’s girlfriend, Kacie McDonnell, a New England Sports Network host.

During a salute to the military, World War II veteran, Petco Park fan Sydney Walton, 99, was highlighted on the Jumbotron.

Major Garrett, the chief White House correspondent for CBS News, who grew up in San Diego, remains a huge fan of the Padres.

He tweeted a ballpark photo of himself wearing a Padres cap and shirt, accompanied by a note of support:

“It’s #OpeningDay2018 @realDonaldTrump is heading to #MaraLago and I say GO @Padres.”

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To read Diane Bell’s full column, go here.

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