Padres Pics #9.

WRIGLEY.Cito Gaston WrigleyThis photo of the Padres playing the Cubs at Wrigley Field is great; even though the call did not go San Diego’s way. One thing that puzzles me though, is that I can’t figure out who the player sliding into home is? Based on uniforms, I’m lead to believe that this photo was taken in 1974 or 1975 and the player in question is either Jerry Turner, John Scott or Bobby Tolan. If anyone knows for sure, definitely let me know. One thing I do know is that the catcher is future-Padre, Steve Swisher and that’s obviously Cito Gaston standing in the background.

GWYNN & ROSE.
Tony Gwynn 1st Career Hit Pete Rose
On July 19th, 1982, Tony Gwynn made his major league debut, in a game against the Phillies at Jack Murphy Stadium. Pete Rose, who was playing first base that night, met Tony at second base after his first major league hit. Rose congratulated him and jokingly said something along the lines of “Don’t catch me in one night.” This may be a well known story, but I still don’t think I’ve ever seen video of his first hit, let alone his interaction with Rose. Needless to say, I was happy when @BenHigginsSD shared this screenshot on twitter earlier this year, which captures Gwynn right after he rolled into second base with Rose right behind him. 

After looking over the box score from that historic night, two interesting things crossed my mind:

  • Gwynn’s first plate appearance may not of been a hit, but it was productive; as he hit a sacrifice fly against future Giants broadcaster, Mike Krukow. You may ask yourself who scored on that sacrifice fly? Well, that would be the one and only Tim Flannery, who one day would have the interesting honor of being number #2 on games played list for players who spent their entire playing career on the Padres. He “only” trails Tony Gwynn by close to 1500 games.  (Thanks to @ChangeThePadres for this little fun fact)
  • Gwynn had 5 at-bats that night and didn’t even get his first hit until the bottom of the 8th inning, against Sid Monge, who would later be his teammate in 1983 & 1984. Tony later came up again in the bottom of the 9th, where he hit a single against Ron Reed. An interesting thing about Reed is that just like Gwynn, he was also a college basketball star who got drafted by an NBA team. I can’t imagine there being an incredibly long list of MLB players who were also drafted by NBA teams, so this caught my eye. With that said, unlike Gwynn, Reed actually pursued professional basketball and played for the Pistons during the ’65/66 & ’66/67 NBA seasons.
  • Gwynn went 2 for 4 that day and all three of the balls he successfully put into play (sacrifice fly, double and single) were hit to centerfield. Both of his “unsuccessful” at-bats took place against Sid Monge and resulted in a lineout to the shortstop and a strikeout. Not a bad day for 22 year old kid making his major league debut.

GWYNN & GRANT.
Tony Gwynn & Mark Grants Padres
I recently came across this photo and it warmed my heart, as it captures two of the most beloved individuals in organizational history. Tony Gwynn, Mark Grant and Padres brown?? it doesn’t get much better than this!

Speaking of Mudcat, did anyone catch on to the fact that he’s been part of the Padres broadcasting team now for over 20 years? I don’t remember the Padres doing anything to celebrate this. It would be awesome if the team honored him with a promotional item next season, just to bring attention to the time he’s spent in San Diego. I suggest a Grant #55 brown jersey giveaway or Grant bobblehead from his playing days. I’d prefer the bobblehead, but eh, we know how the team feels about them. (Image Source: Getty Images)

Padres Pics #8.

PEAVY.
Jake Peavy 1948 Throwback
On May 6th, 2006, in a game against the Cubs, the Padres first wore their 1948 PCL throwback uniforms, during a two day celebration of the Negro Leagues. You may ask why would they wear Pacific Coast League uniforms during a Negro League celebration? Well, they wore the throwbacks to honor John Ritchey, the former Negro League catcher who broke the PCL color barrier with the Padres in 1948 and became known as the “Jackie Robinson of the Pacific Coast League.”

While I love the old PCL and the uniforms from that era, I find it a little odd that they didn’t go with the San Diego Tigers of the West Coast Negro Baseball League. I assume it’s because the league was short lived not much is known about the league to casual fans, but then again, that’s what would make it interesting and fun.

Jake Peavy was the starting pitcher that day and he did it in style, wearing high stirrups and saluting the Negro Leagues in a way that makes baseball history nerds like myself very happy. Before the first pitch of the game, Peavy did a Satchel Paige-esque double-pump windup before delivering a strike to Juan Pierre. You can read about it HERE. (Image Source: Dandy’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Blog)

PENA.Roberto Pena PadresRoberto Pena was the starting second basemen for the inaugural 1969 San Diego Padres, and based on this photo of him diving to lay a tag on a Phillies player, he also spent some time at first base. Oh yeah, he also played shortstop and third as well, so he was quite versatile. Pena only played one of his six big league seasons in San Diego and later wrapped up his playing career in the Mexican Leagues with the Tampico Stevedores and Yucatan Leones. Awhile back, I did a write up on Pena on Bridging the Gap: The PCL Padres & MLB Padres (Part 1), due to the fact that he played for both the PCL and MLB Padres. (Image Source: Mears Auctions)

USHER & COLAVITO.
Bob Usher & Rocky Colavito PadresA 1956 San Diego Union photo featuring PCL Padre outfielders, Bob Usher and Rocky Colavito. Here is the original caption to the photo:

“Padre, Bob Usher, left, inspects throwing arm of Rocky Colavito, new outfielder on option from Cleveland. Colavito’s throwing arm is termed by many veterans as the finest in organized baseball while Usher’s is one of the best in the Pacific Coast League. Colavito is subject to 24-hour recall”

Rocky Colavito’s legacy as a baseball player is largely associated with the Indians, and rightfully so, as he spent 8 of his 14 big league seasons in Cleveland. Still, it’s interesting to know that Colavito spent 35 games with the Padres in 1956, during the team’s time as the AAA affiliate of the Indians.

Usher, on the other hand, spent parts of two seasons in San Diego, in addition to playing 4 seasons with the PCL Angels and bouncing around 4 teams during his 6 seasons in the big leagues. I previously wrote about Usher HERE, which I suggest checking out. The guy lived an interesting life in baseball, which lead to him being present at some notable moments in the history of the game. (Image Source: The J.G. Preston Experience)

Padres In The Hall Of Fame.

With Mike Piazza’s recent election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I’m certain that everyone who loves Padres baseball got a little excited on some level, due to one of “our” guys getting in. I got to thinking that it’d be fun to do a post dedicated to former Padres enshrined in Cooperstown. On top of that, I decided to have some fun with it and add managers, coaches, broadcast members and PCL Padres as well. 

I’d assume that in the next year or two, I’ll be adding Trevor Hoffman to this list; but outside of Hoffman, there are others who’ve represented the Padres that can still potentially get in one day. Names such as Steve Garvey, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield, Bruce Bochy, Minnie Minoso, Lefty O’Doul, Ted Leitner and even possibly Alan Trammell or Mark McGwire all deserve consideration. Yes, some of these guys may be long shots, but still, based solely on their San Diego connection, I’ll always be excited that at least some of our guys are in the discussion for baseball immortality.

Roberto Alomar
Roberto Alomar Padres
Alomar was the Padres second basemen from 1988-1990 and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2011. While he only spent his first 3 seasons in the big leagues with San Diego, those years were solid, as he earned Rookie of the Year votes and was also an All-Star. After being traded to the Blue Jays after the 1990 season, I always followed his career and in my opinion, he was the best defensive second basemen of my lifetime. In fact, he may be responsible for me wanting to learn how to play the infield, after growing up playing outfield for the most part.

As much as I loved the Alomar due to the Padres connection, it was always bitter-sweet to watch him, due to the fact that he was flipped during the Padres fire sale of 1992 & 1993. I’ll always remember my dad telling me to keep an eye on both Roberto and Sandy Alomar. l’ll also always remember my dad’s disdain for Padres ownership during this time; specifically Tom Werner. It’s not an exaggeration to say that he’s still mad about what Werner and that ownership group did to the team. (Image Source: BaseballHall.Org)

Sparky Anderson
Sparky Anderson 1969 Padres
I’m not sure if it’s still like this, but during my childhood, collecting baseball cards went hand in hand with being a baseball fan. As far as my circle of friends were concerned, you could not just play or watch baseball, you HAD to collect cards as well. If not, you were missing a key component of what it was all about. If you didn’t take part in collecting and trading cards, you were going to be left out of a LOT. You may be curious as to why I bring this up? Well, because when I first discovered baseball, outside of players on the Padres and A’s, there were a handful of individuals in the game that fascinated me for some reason or another and based on his 1987 and 1988 Topps baseball cards, Sparky Anderson was one of these people.

I was mesmerized by the white haired manager of the Tigers. He looked as if he had an aura of baseball wisdom surrounding him and I remember looking at his cards and thinking “THIS is what a manager is supposed to look like!” Years later, I discovered that Sparky was the third base coach on the inaugural 1969 San Diego Padres, which is obviously cool, but what I thought was really cool is that he pretty much looked exactly the same in 1969, as he did in the late 1980s. Honestly, if you watch his Hall of Fame induction in 2000, you can make the claim that he stopped aging in the late 1960s.

Jerry Coleman
Jerry Coleman San Diego Padres
The Colonel became the voice of the Padres in 1972, and with the exception of his stint as the Padre manager in 1980, he never left the booth. Yes, as he aged, his workload became lighter, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t relevant or contributing. In fact, I loved him even more, as it made his segments and the games he actually did work even that more special. In 2005, he was awarded with the Ford C. Frick Award and while that may not make him a “Hall of Famer” by definition, he’s still immortalized for eternity in Cooperstown. While I surely have countless Jerry memories that I could express here, I’ll pull this excerpt from my post on 90 Feet of Perfection, entitled “Goodbye, Jerry Coleman.”

I associate Jerry Coleman with my love of the game. I’ve watched and listened to Padres games since I was a kid and Jerry Coleman has always been the one constant in that organization through my entire life. Along with Tony Gwynn, there’s not a person involved in the game of Baseball that’s meant as much to my family and myself and that’s the honest truth. I’ll always associate family with Jerry Coleman and to this day, my dad still quotes Jerry’s trademark “Oh Doctor, You can hang a star on that baby!” If I ever have children, I know that I’ll continue this tradition and while telling them of great (and not so great) Padres of the past, much like my parents and Grandmother did with me. Rest assured, Jerry Coleman will be at the top of that list.

In ways, Jerry Coleman was the heart and soul of the San Diego Padres and still continues to be. The Colonel is a Hall of Famer on so many levels and I hope this is not lost on future generations of both Padres fans and baseball fans in general.

Larry Doby
Larry Doby
The man who integrated the American League played for the PCL Padres for a short period of time in 1959. In the twilight of his career, with his baseball skills deteriorating, Doby bounced around a number of teams. During this period of time, the Indians decided to take another chance on their former slugger and reacquired him from the White Sox. Cleveland optioned Doby to the Padres; their AAA affiliate at the time. Unfortunately, Doby only played 9 games with the Padres, due to breaking his ankle in a game against the Sacramento Solons. The injury was essentially the nail in the coffin of Doby’s playing career.

In 1998, almost 40 years after his last game as a player in the big leagues, Doby was elected by the Veteran’s Committee to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of Larry Doby from his time in San Diego. If anyone ever finds one, let me know and I will update this photo.

Bobby Doerr
Bobby Doerr 1936 PCL Padres
Bobby Doerr will forever be known as a member of the Red Sox, and rightfully so. He spent his entire major league playing career as the second basemen of the Red Sox, later becoming a scout, instructor and then first base coach for the team. Hell, his #1 uniform number is retired with the team and he’s (obviously) wearing a Red Sox cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, where he was inducted in 1986. In fact, with the exception of being the Blue Jays hitting coach from 1977 to 1981, and his years in the Pacific Coast League prior to the big leagues, he’s never not been affiliated with the Red Sox.

Doerr broke into professional baseball at the age of 16 with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League. He spent his first two seasons in Hollywood and when owner, Bill Lane decided to relocate the team to San Diego and re-brand them as the Padres, Bobby Doerr came to town as the team’s 18 year old second basemen. In his first, and only year with the Padres, he hit .342, with 238 hits over 175 games. Doerr joined the Red Sox the following season and the rest is history. If you watch the documentary, “The First Padres,” there’s some great interview footage with him regarding his time with the Padres and as a teammate of Ted Williams. It’s easily my favorite part of the film.

Dick Enberg
Dick Enberg Padres
In 2010, Dick Enberg took over as the Padres play-by-play broadcaster and the sportscasting legend quickly dove into the world of San Diego Padres baseball. To anyone listening to Dick, it’s apparent that he’s both passionate and well versed regarding San Diego sports. It was no surprise to anyone that his years in the Padres booth, on top of his years in the Angels booth (1969 to 1981) lead to him being awarded with the 2015 Ford C. Frick Award.

I think I speak for all Padres fans, when I say that Enberg’s time in San Diego has been frustrating at times, as he often shows his age, which leads to him making incorrect calls. However, in the end, I think we all adore him. Honestly, I think some fans (including myself) were initially resistant to him, solely based on the irrational fact that his name isn’t Matt Vasgersian, the fan favorite that he essentially replaced in the booth. Still, with that said, I love seeing him wear a Padres button on his suit and his Padres cap while he’s out on the field or in the dugout. The guy really does love the game of baseball and the San Diego Padres. (Image Source: Sports Illustrated)

Rollie Fingers 
Rollie Fingers Padres
Rollie Fingers and his famous moustache pitched for the Padres from 1977 to 1980 and during those four seasons, he lead the league in saves twice, earned MVP votes on two different occasions and pitched in the 1978 All-Star Game. Fingers was eventually elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992 and with the rise of advanced stats and sabermetrics, it can be debated if he’s actual Hall of Fame material, but what can’t be debated is that he was an excellent professional baseball player. As a kid, Fingers was one of those San Diego athletes I’d hear stories about from my family members. While I never personally saw Fingers pitch in San Diego, my older brothers did and for one of my older brothers, he got to meet him under interesting circumstances.

Some of my details may be off, as I havent talked to my brother about it for awhile, but the gist of the story goes like this…When Fingers was in San Diego, my older brother and some of his friends were hired by the Padres star to help him move (I assume this was after the 1980 season). Pretty normal stuff I believe, he probably just hired neighborhood kids to do some packing, lifting, etc. The deal was that they’d help him move for couple days, likely through a weekend, and then Fingers would pay them afterwards on a specific day and location. Well, after my brother and the other kids finished, they went to the decided location to collect payment from one of their baseball heroes, and guess what? He left without paying them. That’s right, Rollie Fingers ripped off a bunch of kids. Whether it was intentional or not, or simply a misunderstanding, this is a 100% true story and due to this, anytime Rollie Fingers has been brought up, my older brother always makes sure to include some not so nice words regarding the Hall of Famer.

Goose Gossage 
Goose Gossage Padres
Like Rollie Fingers before him, Rich ‘Goose’ Gossage was also a relief pitcher who played for the Padres for 4 seasons (1984-1987). During his tenure with the Padres, Gossage was an All-Star twice and most certainly lead the National League West in intimidation, as he was moustached closer with a fastball that could hit 100. More importantly, he helped anchor down the bullpen on the 1984 team that won the National League Pennant.

I can honestly say that the ’84 team is probably my favorite baseball team ever, which is kind of odd, since I was too young to even remember the team. Still, when I think of that team, Gossage is one of the first names that come to mind. Reason being is that Goose Gossage was my late-mother’s favorite baseball player and that had to do with his time with the Padres. Like every family member I have, she also loved Tony Gwynn, but she had a thing for Gossage and continued to follow him after he left the Padres. In fact, whenever I’d get Gossage baseball cards, I’d always offer them to her first. She’d always politely say that’s ok and thank me for offering, but you can sure as hell bet that whenever I’d get duplicate Gossage cards, she had to take them. Gossage was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008, and it’s always been a bit saddening that my mother was not around to witness his induction.

Tony Gwynn
Tony Gwynn Padres Brown Uniform
What can I say about Tony Gwynn that hasn’t been said before? From 1982 until 2001, he represented the Padres in every way possible. Through thick and thin, he stayed loyal to San Diego; even when larger checks were available elsewhere. As a kid, I pretty much worshipped him and he’s the reason that I still wear #19 on my jersey. It’s safe to say that he’s my favorite baseball player of all-time. Even if he was not a Padre, it’s quite possible that I’d still feel the same way.

I can go on forever about the man known as Mr. Padre and his career, which lead to him being elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007, along with Cal Ripken Jr. Instead, I’m just going to leave a link to a post I wrote after his death, entitled “Remembering Tony Gwynn.” (Image Source: SBNation)

Rickey Henderson
Rickey Henderson Padres
Much like Tony Gwynn, what can I say about Rickey that hasn’t already been said countless times? The all-time leader in stolen bases and runs scored played for the Padres twice; the first being from 1996-1997 and then again in 2001. While Rickey is obviously wearing an A’s cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, and rightfully so, you can’t be deny that Rickey had some pretty unforgettable moments in San Diego. I recently discussed The Man of Steal’s time with the Padres in a post entitled, “Rickey Henderson in San Diego.”

Greg Maddux
Greg Maddux Padres Throwback
Mad Dog was a Padre from 2007 to 2008, and while he was past his prime, he was still productive and a lot of fun to watch. It can and is often argued that Maddux is the best pitcher of his generation, so I feel lucky that I was able to see him pitch on two different occasions. Maddux was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014 and while his time in San Diego was brief, he still mentioned his time with the Padres, specifically mentioning both Bud Black and Darren Balsley in his speech.

Willie McCovey
Willie McCovey Padres
Like Rollie Fingers, there were a number of San Diego athletes I grew up hearing about from family members. Willie McCovey was one of these guys. Even though his time in San Diego was short lived (1974 to 1976), he was still productive for an aging slugger. 52 home runs in a little under two and half seasons is respectable. McCovey will forever be known as a member of the Giants, but I’ve always thought it was cool that he spent three seasons with my two favorite big league teams (Padres and A’s), before returning to San Francisco, where he finished out his career after the 1980 season. McCovey was a member of the 1986 Hall of Fame class and was the first MLB Padre to be inducted. With that said, the 1986 class also included one-time PCL Padre, Bobby Doerr.

My dad told me a story regarding McCovey and the his time in San Diego. He said that the Padres held a promotion where if you attended a game that McCovey hit a home run, you could redeem your ticket it at McDonalds for a free Big Mac hamburger. This makes total sense as Ray Kroc owned the team during this time and Big Mac was McCovey’s nickname. I’m just curious as to how long the promotion lasted? (Image Source: Topps)

Tony Perez
Tony Perez PCL Padres
That’s right, you’re not seeing things; that’s THE Tony Perez from the Big Red Machine. Perez, or “Big Dog” as he was often called, played for the PCL Padres from 1963 to 1964, during the team’s time as the Reds AAA affiliate.

Perez was promoted to AAA at the end of the 1963 season and played 8 games with the Padres before wrapping up the season. While it was a small sample size, Perez hit at a .379/.419/.655 clip with 11 hits. He surely gained some attention due to this, but he really made his presence made in 1964, when he hit .309/.374/.597 with 34 home runs over 124 games. As they say, the rest was history and for this Cuban baseball legend. Perez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000, along with Carlton Fisk and his former manager from Cincinnati, Sparky Anderson. (Image Source: Beckett)

Gaylord Perry
Gaylord Perry Padres
The king of doctoring baseballs played for the Padres from 1978 to 1979 and during that time, he pitched pretty damn well. Perry won 21 games 1978, which lead to him winning the National League Cy Young award and in 1979, at age 40, he had another solid campaign and represented the team in the All-Star Game. Unfortunately, that was the end of his time in San Diego, as he demanded a trade after the 1979 season and actually threatened to retire if the trade was not granted. Perry ended up playing until 1983 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991, along with Bill Veeck, Tony Lazzeri, Fergie Jenkins and Rod Carew. (Image Source: NY Daily News)

Mike Piazza
Mike Piazza San Diego Padres
Mike Piazza terrorized National League pitching for years, and while I don’t remember a specific instance off the top of my head, I’m quite certain he did more than his fair share of damage against the Padres. I do know that during his career, he hit 27 home runs against San Diego, which is tied for 5th in teams he hit dingers against during his 16 years in the big leagues. With that said, I still remember the day he signed with the Padres. A buddy of mine sent me a text that simply said “Piazza???” I hopped online and sure enough, Mike Piazza was now a Padre. It was weird, and in retrospect it still is kinda weird.

I liked Piazza as a Padre and he had a pretty good year, as he played in 126 games and hit at a .283/.342/.501 clip with 22 home runs. For a 37 year old catcher in the twilight of his career, that’s awesome. I have three Piazza memories that stick out from 2006:

  1. The home run he crushed on opening day against Jason Schmidt of the Giants. I was sold on him from that point forward. There used to be a video of this online, but unfortunately I can’t find it anymore.
  2. The two home runs he hit against the Mets in his return to Shea Stadium. I remember him almost hitting a third, but the ball caught at the warning track. It was crazy to see the love that Piazza got as a returning player.
  3. Now this is something that I unfortunately remember quite vividly. In the 4th inning of Game 1 of the NLDS, Jake Peavy got Albert Pujols to pop up behind the plate at a crucial point of the scoreless game. However, Piazza misread the ball and did not catch it. Pujols made them pay for this mistake and took the next ball deep for a 2 run blast. The Padres never recovered and ended up losing the game 5 to 1. I remember Peavy being pretty frustrated with Piazza afterwards. It’s crazy to think that this was 10 years ago and it’s been a decade since the Padres were in the post-season.

Later this year, Mike Piazza will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with Ken Griffey Jr.; a player who at one point almost became a Padre, if not for Phil Nevin exercising his no-trade clause. Junior in a Padres uniform would have been AWESOME.

Ozzie Smith
Ozzie Smith Padres
If I didn’t know better, based on the praise my father and other family members give Ozzie Smith, you’d think that he played his entire career in San Diego. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as he only spent the first four seasons of his Hall of Fame career (1978 to 1981) as a member of the Padres.

I remember when I first started collecting baseball cards and my dad telling me about Ozzie after I got my hands on a card of his. He told me that Ozzie was the Padre shortstop prior to Garry Templeton, the man whom he was traded for. This blew my mind, due to the fact that I thought Tempy was awesome. I mean, he was THE shortstop of the Friars for the majority childhood, so in my eyes he was a stud. Obviously, as I got a little older, I realized that Tempy was no Ozzie and the Cardinals won the now infamous trade. At least we got THIS during Ozzie’s time in San Diego, which some say is the best defensive play in the history of Major League Baseball.

The Wizard of Oz was the sole player elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002. However, Phillies announcer, Harry Kalas received the Ford C. Frick Award and entered Cooperstown with Ozzie. While watching the Hall of Fame induction that year, I vaguely seem to remember a fair amount of fans wearing padres gear in the crowd during his speech. But then again, there may have been just one or two people and my memory is playing tricks on me.

Dick Williams
Dick Williams Padres
Dick Williams managed the Padres from 1982 to 1985, and guided the team to their first postseason berth and subsequent World Series appearance. For that in itself, he will forever be accepted, respected and adored by Padres fans. Which is something I believe can be said about all the members of the 1984 team.

Williams had a .520 W-L percentage (337-311) during his 4 years in San Diego, and lead the team to the 1984 World Series. Still, I feel his time in San Diego is often overlooked; which is not surprising due to the fact that this is San Diego we’re talking about. Hell, when he passed away in 2011, outside of San Diego media outlets and Padres related social media accounts, his time in the brown and yellow was barely acknowledged due to what he accomplished with the Red Sox and A’s. Oh well.

Ted Williams
Ted Williams PCL San Diego Padres

If you follow me on twitter and/or read this blog or 90 Feet of Perfection, you quickly pick up on the fact that I’m a big fan of Ted Williams and the PCL Padres. As a kid, ever since I got my hands on THIS 1992 Upper Deck card, which features the Splendid Splinter in his Padres jersey, I’ve been infatuated with the guy. I had heard about the “original” Padres from family members, but really knew nothing about the history of the team; let alone the fact that the greatest hitter of all time started his professional career with them. Add the fact that shortly after this, Ted Williams took to mentoring Tony Gwynn, and I was forever a fan.

I don’t know much else to say about Williams that hasn’t been said before, especially by myself, but I will repeat my favorite fun fact about him: Ted Williams wore #19 in San Diego, just like Tony Gwynn did over 45 years later. For some reason, I think that’s so cool and uncanny, due to the connection and similarities between both players.

Ted Williams played for the Padres from 1936 to 1937 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966, along with Manager Casey Stengel via the Veterans Committee. Ted’s Hall of Fame speech in one of the more memorable speeches in the game’s history due to the fact that he acknowledged and called for the induction of Negro League players into the Hall of Fame as well. This is obviously incredible and admirable on so many levels, but along with this, even though it has no social implications, I love the fact that he also mentioned Frank Shellenback in his speech. Who is Frank Shellenback you may ask? Well, he was the first manager of the Pacific Coast League Padres, and Ted’s first manager in professional baseball. (Image Source: San Diego Union Tribune)

Dave Winfield
Dave Winfield Padres
It can be argued that Dave Winfield was the MLB Padres first legitimate star. Yes, both Randy Jones and Winfield joined the team the same season, but it was the slugger from Minnesota who bloomed first. Some people outside of San Diego may have a hard time associating Winfield with the Padres due to the fact that he played with various teams, but here are a few refreshers regarding his connection to the Friars:

  • He played in San Diego for 8 seasons (1973 t 1980), and was an All-Star for four of those seasons.
  • He was elected to the team Hall of Fame in 2000.
  • In 2001, his #31 jersey was retired by the Padres.
  • In 2001, he was elected to the Hall of Fame along with Bill Mazeroski, Kirby Puckett and Hilton Smith. In a somewhat controversial move, Winfield choose to wear his Padres cap on his plaque, making him the first Padre to do so.
  • From 2001 to 2013, he worked as the executive vice president/senior advisor (whatever that means) for the Padres, before moving on to work with the Major League Baseball Players Association.

What I’m saying is that Dave Winfield is a Padre. Hell, you still see him wearing his Padres cap during the All-Star celebrity softball games. Also, according to wikipedia (so take it with a grain of salt), this is taking place during the 2016 All-Star Game:

“The 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, played at Petco Park in San Diego, is expected to be dedicated to Winfield. He had represented the Padres at the first All-Star Game to be played in San Diego.”

Who knows if this is true, but if so, I have no problem with it, as long as other notable Padres from the past get their respect as well. We don’t want another Tony Gwynn debacle to go down. I doubt this will happen though, due to the game being held in San Diego…but then again this is MLB and current ownership we’re talking, both which are tone deaf at times. (Image Source: 30-Year Cardboard)

If I Ran The Padres.

Like most people who read The 5.5 Hole, I’m passionate about Padres baseball. And like most people who are passionate about Padres baseball, I have strong opinions in regards to the organization. This is due to the team’s ups, downs and the overall inconsistent nature that fans have grown accustomed to over the years. With that said, I’d like to think that with the current ownership group, things are stabilizing. However, you can never tell with this team; and due to this, fans have the right to be apprehensive, bitter and opinionated.

For the most part, I trust the current direction of the organization and believe that A.J. Preller is creative and bright enough to put together an on-field product that’s up to par with the growing expectations of the team. I’m just telling myself to be patient; even though I’m not sure what I’m being patient for, as fans are largely being left in the dark in regards to the team’s direction this offseason. Still, I back the “In Preller We Trust” frame of mind. However, what I don’t have patience for are a handful of things that are not relevant to A.J. Preller’s job and the on-field product. I’m talking marketing, branding, public relations, fan experience and whatnot. I often find myself thinking what I’d do if I was in Mike Dee, Ron Fowler or Wayne Partello’s shoes. 

These seem like no-brainers to me, but then again, many things related to San Diego sports that you’d assume are no-brainers, often go out the window. Also, I’m aware that I should have finished this post ages ago, as some of these issues are starting to slowly change. With that said, here are 5 things I’d change if I “ran” the Padres.

1. Bring Back The Brown

A couple months back, when I first started writing this post, I knew this would be first on the list. Yes, a team’s uniform does not matter all that much, but you can’t deny that it does reflect identity and tradition and we all know that the Padres have had little to no identity since the turn of the millennium. Yes, they’ve been better in recent years with throwback days, and the way they pushed the “Way Back Wednesdays” in 2015 was respectable, but in the end it’s all been nothing but teases.

When the Padres introduced the new brown & yellow uniform last month, it was bittersweet, due to it being an alternate just to be worn on Friday home games. I do believe that it’s a step in the right direction and that the blue & yellow All-Star color scheme isn’t as bad as the blue & white we’ve had shoved down our throats for years. Let’s hope that it was a good sign when Mike Dee said they considered making brown their primary color scheme in 2016 and that they will look back into this matter after the season. If you read between the lines, I think it’s apparent this is the beginning of brown becoming the primary team color. I just assume that this is how they chose to start the process.

With all that said, two things have crossed my mind in regards to the 2016 uniforms:

  1. Why would the team leave the road uniforms untouched?? Seriously, if you’re going to move in a different direction in terms of branding, then why not introduce either brown or yellow to the road uniforms as well. The road uniforms are so incredibly bland as is, so why not spice them up with some accents to get the changes moving across the board? Sometimes, I honestly think the Padres are afraid to put themselves out there. I believe they are comparable to a shy kid who choses to sit in the back of class and never raises his/her hand in fear of the unwanted attention.
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  2. With all the complaining I do and continue to do in regards to this matter, I have to give the organization props for the new brown & yellow alternates. This uniform is what I wanted, and while it may not be perfect (That honor would go to John Brubaker’s mockups), they still fulfill something that I’ve been craving for years. I’ll definitely be buying the cap.

2. Padres Of The Past
Garry Templeton & Benito Santiago
This one ties directly into the above mentioned topic of bringing back the brown, but it also warrants its own section. With that said, I don’t think it can be denied that Petco Park is an incredible place to actually watch a baseball game. Baseball fans in San Diego are quite lucky to have such a great venue in their backyard. I don’t live in San Diego, but I make it a point to go there often and I’m always amazed at how great Petco Park is. With that said, I feel that something seems to be missing while walking around Petco.

If you’ve been to Citi Field in New York, they have the Mets museum and a lot of Jackie Robinson/Brooklyn Dodgers items/information on display. If you’ve been to AT&T, the whole ballpark is a nod to the history of the Giants. Even the Coliseum in Oakland, which is an old multi-purpose stadium, it’s hard to not run into something on display which reflects the history of the A’s and baseball in the East Bay. In my opinion, Petco Park has not been utilized correctly and for the most part, these things are missing.

Yes, we have Jerry and Tony’s statues and the retired numbers on display (which are being moved for some silly reason); but everything else is few and far between. You have to venture to areas not always easily accessible or well known to find display cases and anything else that reflects the history of baseball in San Diego. Hell, I even remember on two different occasions when Petco employees had no idea where to find what I was looking for. This is all unfortunate and I’ve always felt unfulfilled while visiting Petco Park.

What I’ve always desired in Petco is an actual Padres Hall of Fame and more images/plaques/representation for individuals that are important to the team’s history. Also, while it may be a stretch for some, I’d love more nods to the Pacific Coast League Padres. San Diego have never won a World Series, but there’s a rich history of baseball here that some people know little to nothing about, and until recently, the organization has done very little to rectify this.

If the organization got creative, they could do some really cool things. For starts, how about retiring a new number such as Jerry’s #2 or Colbert’s #17? How about something that recognizes the years of service that guys like Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery put in with the Padres? Whether you wanna admit it or not, these guys are important to the history of the team. Alternately, they can go the PCL route and build a Ted Williams statue to reflect the decades of Padres baseball in San Diego prior to 1969. Or they could simply just name more areas around Petco Park after Padres of the past or things relevant to San Diego baseball? These are just random ideas off the top of my head, but really, it wouldn’t be difficult to make this stadium ALL about the Padres.

Along with bringing back the brown, Benito Santiago and Garry Templeton being elected to the team Hall of Fame in 2015 and the recent news that the Padres are finally building an actual Hall of Fame at Petco Park in 2016, I think things are going in the right direction. My question though, is why now and not years ago? I get that ownership issues have plagued the team and things are only now stabilizing, but this is not an excuse. Really, all this should of been done in the early days of Petco Park, or even before it opened. With all this said, I look forward to the continued changes at Petco Park and I tip my cap to Dee and company for making them happen. Let’s just hope they’re not done in a half-assed manner.

3. Minimize Obsession With The Military
Padres Camo Unis
I’m aware that this may be controversial and polarizing to some, but I can’t help but voice my displeasure with it. In the 2000s, when the team started wearing camo uniforms, I thought they were irrelevant and forced, but I assumed they would disappear as the novelty wore off. Boy, was I wrong. Since 2007, the Padres have worn military alternate uniforms during Sunday home games and this isn’t going to change anytime soon, especially with the release of the Navy camo uniforms for 2016. If I ran the Padres, I’d put a stop to these ASAP.

I get it, I really do. San Diego is a military town, and even though I have many issues with the military and I’m firm in my political stance of anti-war, I believe the troops deserve additional support here at home. However, dressing up the hometown baseball team in uniforms that are associated with war and violence is NOT the way to go. Let the troops into games at a discounted rate or even free and keep the organization involved with military related-charities and whatnot, but for god’s sake, don’t dress up Major League Baseball players as soldiers and throw them on the field to play a game. It’s silly, embarrassing and frankly, one day I believe people will look back at this trend and shake their heads in shame.

The Padres are to blame for the rise of camo in baseball and now it’s spreading through the league like wildfire. People need take a step back and realize what they’re doing when they support camouflage in baseball. In war and conflict, camouflage is used to give an upper hand on the battlefield and that means violence and lives lost. I want this association out of the game and I’d like baseball to find more creative ways to support the troops.

4. Stadium Giveaways
Chris Denorfia Bobblehead
Stadium giveaways may be an arbitrary thing to complain about, but I think the Padres have done a poor job in regards to this. With the exception of the Padres themed Knockaround sunglasses of the last few years and the Santiago/Templeton throwback jerseys last season, most of the SGAs in the last half-decade or so have been incredibly lackluster. You may disagree with me on this and you may be a fan of some of the stuff they’ve given out, but I think they’ve been generic, stale and certainly don’t add an extra incentive to going to Padres games.

SGAs are largely meant to entice fans to come to games they’d normally not go to. This often means weekday games, in-division games against opponents they play often and games against teams that have little to no fan base in the area (i.e. when less people are in the seats). I may not live in San Diego, but when I do visit, I always book my trips when the team is in town and I always look and see if there’s a decent SGA. More often than not, the SGA is something I just end up tossing in the trash or say “no thank you” to as I enter the stadium.

My personal favorite SGA is the bobblehead, so naturally I’m going to whine about this a little. If you take out Tony Hawk’s bobblehead in 2011 and the canceled Denorfia bobblehead in 2014, the Padres have had only two player bobblehead giveaways in the last half-decade (Bud Black in 2011 and Chase Headley in 2013). With that said, I still think it was lame giving Headley the 2013 bobblehead, as he was present in the 2010 set, which included 5 players. I LOVED those SGAs. They may not of been “star” players, but they were fun and I feel like everyone I knew was into them.

Up here in San Francisco and Oakland, bobblehead giveaways are BIG events. People literally wait in lines for hours to get their hands on them. I think this can be the case in San Diego as well, if they did the right bobbleheads and did them often. Honestly, I think regularity is the key to get people stoked on them, as people tend to want complete sets of things such as SGAs. Yes, many of us have all heard the old “Bobbleheads don’t do well in San Diego” rebuttal against this, but as RJ’s Fro proved in 2013, this is a load of crap and he put together the numbers to back it up.

With all this said, the Padres need to be more creative with their SGAs and whether they include bobbleheads or not, they should have fun with them. SGAs can tie directly in with paying respect to Padres of the past, or reflect Padres of the present, as long as they are  creative and are not afraid to get a tad absurd with them. Hell, if you look at the A’s, they are planning a Metallica- themed Sean Doolittle bearded garden gnome in 2016. Something like this can totally go over well in San Diego, solely based on how weird and funny it is. You can never go wrong with anything related to Gwynn, Coleman, Hoffman, etc. And whether you’re a fan or not, Kemp and Myers are not going anywhere and are sure to put butts in seats in 2016, so why not do something related to them? Hell, they don’t have to be player oriented either, as the team can get creative with something related to the 2016 All-Star game. Anyways, you get the picture, get creative and have fun and people will recognize this and embrace SGAs.

Again, I tip my cap to the Padres due to how awesome last year’s Santiago/Templeton giveaway jerseys were, but for the most part, good SGAs that actually put people in the seats are few and far between in San Diego. Until I see the promo schedule for this upcoming season, I’m going to stay critical, especially if I see another beach towel or fedora giveaway.

5. Bud Selig Hall Of Fame Plaza
Bud Selig Plaza
In all the years that I’ve been a Padres fan, I’ve seen many highs and lows. If I’m being honest, I’d say there have been more lows and than highs, and that’s by a longshot. With that said, I can’t ever that I’ve ever been quite embarrassed to be a Padres fan until August of 2014, when the team announced that they’d be naming a section of the Western Metal Supply Building after Commissioner Bud Selig. To make matters worse, I believe this is where the team’s Hall of Fame will be, which is scheduled to open by the All-Star Game this July.

When I first heard about this, I laughed because I thought there was NO way it was true, as it was so absurd and borderline offensive. I was very wrong and judging by the public backlash of everyone I interacted with and from what I read online, I was FAR from the only one who felt this way. Honestly, I wanted to crawl into a hole and not think of Padres baseball, as this seemed to be the icing on the cake of another disappointing season. I was seriously embarrassed when friends, family or coworkers wanted to discuss it and it still makes me cringe when I think about it.

To make matters even worse, Mike Dee’s response to the public backlash was ridiculous and I hate to say it, but he was tone deaf in regards to this issue. There is NO way that Bud Selig saved baseball in San Diego, and if he did have his hand in the matter, he was not important enough to the process to warrant an area in Petco to be named after him. After this all went down, I remember Dee going on Padres Social Hour to discuss the naming of the plaza and the way he came off was incredibly off putting. For the majority of people who support this organization through thick and thin, it was incredibly frustrating.

I think it goes without saying that if I ran the Padres, I’d put a stop to this as soon as possible and erase it from the history of the organization. Not long ago, I heard that the area to be named after Selig may be moved or minimized, but until I see something official that backs this up, I’m assuming Selig Hall of Fame Plaza is still happening. I’m not one for vandalizing property, but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t mind seeing something vandalized in Petco Park that has Selig’s name attached to it.

Padres Pics #7.

1984.
1984 Padres World Series
I believe this photo was taken prior to Game 1 of the 1984 World Series, at Jack Murphy Stadium. While this specific photo only seems to include bench players, bullpen guys and coaches, it’s still pretty cool if you ask me.

GWYNN.
For ages, I’ve looked for video of Tony Gwynn’s 1997 inside the park grand slam against the Dodgers and today I finally found it. Skip forward to 0:37 in the video and you will find Tony going oppo in the grandest of ways. The only downside to this clip is that after the hit, it only shows Tony coming down the third baseline and sliding into home. I would LOVE to see him running the bases, even at that stage in his career.

LYNN.
Fred Lynn PadresRecently, while looking through some old Padres cards from my childhood, I came across a few Fred Lynn cards from both 1990 and 1991. I’d forgotten that Lynn was a Padre at one point and after during a little research, it turns out that San Diego was the last stop of his seventeen year career. Lynn played only one season in San Diego (1990) and the 38 year old didn’t fare all that well, as he put up a .240/.315/.357 clip with 6 home runs over 90 games.

I guess Lynn could’ve done a lot worse in 1990 and since there are Padres cards of him for the 1991 season, I’m lead to believe the team considered bringing him back the following season on a minor league contract or spring training invite. With that all said, it’s odd seeing Lynn in a Padres uniform, but wow, does that brown looks great or what?