Baseball fans got closer to the action at Petco Park Saturday than any seat in the ballpark would normally give them.
More than 17,000 visitors turned out for the Padres FanFest, an annual event that gives fans a chance to meet the 26 of the players.
The team expanded the free event, so fans were able to roam the ballpark, run the bases, catch fly balls in the outfield and pitch in the bullpen. Pitcher Tyson Ross gave a youth pitching clinic, while Yonder Alonzo assisted youngsters in a batting clinic.
"Well, while you're down here, you kind of feel like you're an actual baseball player, you know? You get to throw the ball; you get to run the bases. You're on the field, you know?" said Padres fan Marcelino Silva.
More than a dozen players were on hand to sign autographs, and plenty of rare memorabilia was available at the team “garage sale.”
There was also a tribute to legendary broadcaster Jerry Coleman, who passed away over the offseason. Fans could record their tributes to Coleman at the statue erected in his honor at the East Village gate.
FanFest was also the first chance for fans to guarantee their Opening Night tickets through the purchase of a Padres Pack, with options for three, six or nine games. The purchase of any Padres Pack at FanFest comes with first access to also purchase Opening Night tickets.