Padres Pics #10.

WINFIELD VS. RYAN.
nolan-ryan-dave-winfeldDuring a 1980 game against the Astros, Dave Winfield was drilled by Nolan Ryan and Winny decided to take matters into his own hands by charging the mound. According to Winfield, Ryan “had brushed him back twice in the game with inside pitches.” I guess that was more than enough for Winfield, and according to all mentions of the incident, he got the best of Ryan by connecting with the punch he’s ready to throw in the above photo.

I don’t believe there were any other physical altercations between Ryan and Winfield during their careers, but I do know that in the 1985 All-Star Game, Ryan threw high and tight to Winfield, before giving up a hard hit single up the middle. Winfield later admitted to trying to hit Ryan with the ball; but has since publicly said they are now friends, due to being members of the Hall of Fame. 

(Image Source: (Image Source: Associated Press)

GWYNN’S DEBUT.
tony-gwynn-first-game-ticketTony Gwynn made his debut on July 19th, 1982 in a game against the Phillies at Jack Murphy Stadium. This ticket, owned by Fred O. Rogers, is from that historic day. I wonder if anyone attendance that Monday night had the slightest idea that Gwynn would go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time and become the face of the Padres franchise for over two decades? Probably not. Also, the images of the Friar and Jack Murphy Stadium on the ticket make this ticket nearly perfect. If only it was brown instead of red…

(Image Source: Fred O. Rogers via “Baseball 1857 through 1993“)

1978 ALL STAR GAME.
1978-all-star-game-san-diego
A snapshot into the National League dugout during the 1978 All-Star Game, which was held at Jack Murphy Stadium. I love the fact that Padres teammates, Dave Winfield and Rollie Fingers are sitting next to each other This photo was snapped and shared by the Padres former VP of Marketing, Andy Strasburg. This is what he had to say about it:

“When the Padres hosted the 1978 MLB All-Star Game, one of my responsibilities was the pre-game ceremony. I was down on the field directing traffic that included player introductions. Moments before Padres public address announcer John DeMott intros each player I whirl around and snap a photo of the players (Willie, Jack, Winny and Rollie) who have yet to put their game face on.”

This is such an awesome image to capture and memory to have. Since leaving the Padres, Strasburg has put out two books, “Baseball Fantography” and “Fantography – San Diego Baseball,” which I strongly suggest purchasing, as they are filled with many interesting and candid baseball-related images.

(Image Source: Andy Strasburg)

Goodbye, Jerry Coleman.

Following Jerry Coleman’s death back in January of 2014, I posted this on 90 Feet of Perfection. Today marks 3 years since The Colonel passed away, so I’ve decided to share it again here on The 5.5 Hole, as it seems relevant to the blog and is a fitting memorial. I think I speak for everyone reading this when I say that I still miss Jerry in the booth. Padres games haven’t been the same since he left.

Jerry Coleman Tribute Image

Last Sunday afternoon, I received a text message from a friend in San Diego that simply said, “The Colonel died.” Nothing more, nothing less. Immediately, I had to google it to see if this was indeed true and when I saw the reports slowly start to pour in, my heart sank. Someone I’ve admired, looked up to, and who has captured my imagination on many levels for the majority of my life had passed away. It may seem silly saying this, but in a way, it felt like I’d lost a family member. This feeling of loss has only grown since I’ve had time to reflect on my memories of Jerry Coleman.

I often take issue with the word “hero” but I look at Jerry Coleman and that’s the only word I can use to describe him. Looking at just his life in Baseball, which lasted over 70 years, I think it’s safe to say that he had one of the most impressive resumes imaginable. I certainly don’t want this post to be a stat and accomplishment driven tribute, but these are the facts and they paint a picture of how relevant Jerry Coleman was to the world of Baseball. If you were to add his military accomplishments, which lead to him being the only Major League player to see combat in 2 wars and resulted in his playing career getting put on hold both times, this list would be much longer:

-In 1939, he was a bat-boy for the San Francisco Seals of the old Pacific Coast League.
-From 1942 to 1957, he spent his entire playing career in the Yankees organization, where he played on 6 World Series teams.
-Placed 3rd in the 1949 Rookie of the Year voting.
-In 1950, he was voted to the All-Star Game and won the World Series MVP award.
-From 1958 to 1960, he worked in the Yankees front office.
-In 1960, he began his broadcasting career, where he did the CBS MLB game of the week.
-In 1963, he began his 7 year tenure as part of the Yankees broadcast team.
-In 1970, became part of the California Angels broadcast team.
-In 1972, became the voice of the San Diego Padres, which lasted over 40 years.
-In 1980, left the broadcast booth to manage the Padres for 1 season.
-In 2005, was honored with the Ford C. Frick Award inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
-In 2007, was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
-In 2007, was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.
-In 2012, in honor of “Jerry Coleman Day” in San Diego, a statue was built and unveiled in his honor at Petco Park.

Jerry Coleman passed away at the age of 89, yet as anyone familiar with the Colonel knew, he had to be the youngest 89-year-old around as he was still quite active in both the booth and Padres organization. He had the youthful exuberance of a man much younger than him. He was still physically able, sharp, funny, and it was apparent to anyone who listened that he was still very much in love with the game of Baseball. An irrational side of myself honestly thought that Jerry would be around forever due to these reasons. He did not seem like a man approaching 90 years old and that’s a hard pill to swallow due to the fact that Jerry Coleman’s death was a result of a fall he had in December. Not due to age, disease, or whatever mother nature has in store for most people in their golden years. Due to this, I’ll always wonder how long we could have had Jerry Coleman? I’m convinced that some great years were stolen from us.

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.

To some, Baseball may be just another corporate sport filled with millionaire athletes; and this may be true on a level. However, there’s more to Baseball below this surface and that’s why the game is special. Jerry represented this as he reminded me of the raw and genuine love of the game that many of us discover as children. He played in the Golden Age of Baseball and was one of the last remaining people left from that era who was still involved and relevant. I don’t like to generalize and disregard other generations, but the players from the Golden Age brought something to the table not found in generations since.

While watching and reading tributes to Jerry this last week, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t shed a tear. When spring training games start up again late next month, I won’t be surprised if this happens again. Baseball lost someone very special last Sunday and I feel as if I lost someone special as well. Jerry Coleman, you were a good one and will be missed by many.

In typical 90 Feet of Perfection fashion, I pay tribute to Jerry Coleman with some photos I both enjoy and find interesting. I hope you do as well.

Jerry Coleman Billy MartinJerry and Billy Martin relax at second base during a 1950’s spring training. Coleman and Martin are two of my favorite players in Baseball history for various reasons and the fact that they both came from the Bay area certainly contributes to this. Although Coleman was almost 4 years older than Martin and they came from different sides of the Bay, I’ve often wondered if they knew of each other, or crossed paths prior to playing with the Yankees?

Jerry Coleman Padres Manager'In 1980, Coleman left the confines of the broadcasting booth to manage the team. Legend has it that Coleman took the job after the Padres promised that he could return to his job in the booth after his tenure was over. The Friars only went 73-89 that season, but up to that point, it was the best record the club had accomplished in its 11-year existence.

In my opinion, the Padres should retire his #2 that he wore that season solely based on his significance to the team. Everth Cabrera currently wears the number for the team.

Jerry Coleman HOFJuly 31st, 2005. Jerry Coleman during what he described as one of the greatest days of his life. He ended his acceptance speech with the line “On this golden day here in Cooperstown, a journey that started 63 years ago, I feel that finally, finally, I’ve come home. Thank you.” I will always remember this fondly due to the fact that I felt like one of “my” guys made it to Cooperstown.

Dave Winfield may have gone into Cooperstown as a Padre, but not without some controversy, and Tony Gwynn was still a couple years away. Coleman may have played for the Yankees, but he was Padre through and through and it was quite special to see him honored with the Ford C. Frick Award. To watch video of his induction speech, click HERE.

Jerry Coleman double play

“The best second baseman I ever saw on the double play.”Casey Stengel on Jerry Coleman

Jerry Coleman in Booth

I’ll never hear Jerry call a Padres game again and this is saddening. Yes, he didn’t do as many games as he used to, but the fact that I always knew he was there and still calling games, regardless of how often, was comforting.

I came across THIS video of Coleman’s last game in the booth and it made me both happy and sad. Andy Masur shared the booth with Jerry for what was the final home game of this last season, which resulted in the Padres beating the Diamondbacks on a walk-off single in the 11th inning by Alexi Amarista. Jerry finished the game by piping in with an ecstatic “What a finish!” This captured his childlike enthusiasm for the game of Baseball in a very heartwarming way.

The Padres Uniforms: A Tired, Yet Necessary Topic.

The Swinging Friar

(This a lengthy and opinionated post. Consider yourself warned.)

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last month, or just don’t pay attention to baseball during the offseason, then you’re certainly aware that the Padres released new uniforms for the 2017 season. Even if you’re not a Padres fan, you’ve probably come across this information, as the release essentially went viral, due to how underwhelming the jerseys are. And when I say “underwhelming,” that’s a nice way of saying they’re absolutely terrible.

If for some reason you haven’t seen the new home and away uniforms, or need a haunting reminder, here’s the video announcement; which was released on November 22nd. I’m warning you, though, if you think any combination of blue and white the team has worn in the past is bad, just wait until you get a load of these bland monstrosities. In a nutshell, these uniforms blow everything they’ve previously worn out of the water in terms of being forgettable and tasteless.

I don’t get it. There are options available which would satisfy many people and return a unique identity to the team, yet they go with uniforms so boring that they’re basically offensive. It boggles my mind that: A) someone actually designed these and B) someone actually approved them. It just goes to so show that in terms of tradition, branding, and creating a sense of identity, those who call the shots in the Padres organization are tone-deaf and utterly clueless. Going back to brown on a full-time basis, or at least incorporating other colors such as gold or orange, are obvious decisions to make. But hey, leave it to the Padres to screw it up.

Even after a month, criticism has not subsided. Oh and by the way, it’s not just San Diego-related media that’s taking shots at the organization, but social media, blogs, and writers seem to universally hate the uniforms. It’s almost as if the baseball world has united with these opinions, which is weird to me since I’m so used to the Padres going under the radar and without much attention. I’ve even had friends reach out and offer condolences over the uniforms. Each time, the theme seems to be the same, and consists of something along the lines of “Why don’t they go back to brown full-time??” or “Brown is awesome/unique/etc.” or my favorite comment, which is a simple “LOL at the Padres.” Oh, I forgot to mention that these conversations I speak of are usually with NON-Padres fans.

This leads me to the question: How are people, with no rooting interest in the team, aware of the right decision to make in regards to the uniforms, but Ron Fowler, Peter Seidler, Wayne Partello, etc., are completely oblivious to it? This is problematic and representative of many problems the Padres have as a whole.

padres-brubaker-mockup
Brown? Check!  Orange? Check!  Pinstripes? Check!  A beautiful uniform? You know it.

I get it. The Padres have not won a World Series, and while they have gone twice, their winning seasons as a whole are few and far between. I get it. They don’t have a fan-base which is comparable to most Major League teams in terms of size and attention. I get it. There have been major PR disasters in the last few years. I get it. They are in the middle of a rebuild. Really, I can go on (but won’t). What I’m getting at is that the Padres have a number of things that work against them in terms of being a team that is recognizable in a positive, or even neutral light.

Let’s be 100% honest with ourselves here, most people just don’t care about the San Diego Padres. I’d say the general consensus wavers between “Eh, the team sucks, but the weather is nice.” Or, “I liked Tony Gwynn, but don’t know much about the team outside of him.” Oh yeah, you can’t forget about those annual MLB uniform ranking lists, in which friends always seem to tag me in or forward my way. If you’re reading this, then you obviously know that the Padres are always dead last, or near it.

The uniforms have largely been terrible for over 15 years and I honestly don’t think this can be argued. If you don’t agree, then I’d be quick to ask if color-blindness runs in your family? Or maybe it’s not your fault, and you’re just simply unaware of how branding and marketing is detrimentally impacting the team’s legacy. Either way, blue and white has got to go, and something has to be done to make this team stand out in a positive and unique way.

padres-brubaker-mockup
Matt Kemp & Andrew Casher in John Brubaker’s 2015 mockup uniforms.

In the grand scheme of things, I do agree that the on-field product is ultimately what matters the most. Even though it seems insane to me, I’m also aware that some fans honestly just don’t care about uniforms. I know there are other fans who are just entirely burnt out on the topic. I agree that it’s a tired argument, especially when ownership doesn’t listen and shows no signs that they ever will. With all that said, I refuse to hold back my criticism of the team’s uniforms.

I’m very much looking forward to watching the young kids play for the Padres in 2017 (and those coming in the next few years). However, I’m not looking forward to only being able to watch Wednesday throwback games or Friday night home games to visually see a product that can’t be confused with, or looks like, a B-rate version of the Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers, Mariners, Brewers, or Rays. I’m sure I’ve missed another team or two, but that in itself is another sign that blue and white has got to go.

2017 is obviously too late for change, and that’s a defeating feeling. I had high hopes that next season was the return to brown on a full-time basis. Still, as fans, we must demand that the team rectifies this uniform issue, more sooner than later. The Padres need a new uniform that sticks out, is true to the history of the franchise, and has a modern twist that will age well. Enter Gaslamp Ball and “Bring Back The Brown 2018.

padres-brubaker-mockupBring Back the Brown in 2018!

I actually finished this post a couple weeks ago and was sitting on it, due to its length and the fact that it largely consists of nothing but me complaining. Writing it was essentially a cathartic release, so I decided to not publish it. However, this changed last week, when Gaslamp Ball’s “Bring Back The Brown 2018” came up in my social media feeds. It reenergized me to know that the Gaslamp Ball crew were being proactive in their approach for new uniforms. In addition, they called for others to do the same. And with that, I decided to bring this post back to life, in order to lend support to “Bring Back The Brown 2018.”

In a nutshell, the campaign’s goal is to push for a return to brown to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary, and that in itself is brilliant. This is something that Peter Seidler, Wayne Partello, Ron Fowler (and his wife) can’t ignore. The marketing and revenue-generating opportunities that fall in line with an anniversary of a sports franchise are endless and if the team is in rebuild mode, this adds an element of excitement to the ballpark, which may be lacking due to the current on-field talent.

padres-brubaker-mockupIt’s become increasingly evident that the supposed “vocal minority” is not a minority; especially with Ron Fowler not releasing info related to the team’s marketing studies. So now, we as fans, have to assume that the info we have access to, is fact, and use it to kill the vocal minority myth. Social media, articles, and online polls don’t necessarily represent the majority, but it represents something, especially in this digital age.

In the end, the status quo is no longer acceptable and the Padres organization and fans deserve better. In regards to the uniforms, I often think of Tony Gwynn’s quotes in Tom Krasovic’s ESPN article, “Time is right for Padres to bring back brown.”

“Brown is part of who the Padres are, and it’s definitely unique in baseball, because no one else has brown. How many teams have blue? How many have red? But none of ’em have brown.”

“I think a team loses something when it tries to look like someone else or tries to go after some ideal. The Padres, ever since they dropped the brown in ’91, it looks to me like they’re kind of pretending. They should just go all out and be who they are. The Padres should look like the Padres.”

And honestly, I believe that should be the final word on the matter. Sadly it’s not, and that’s why I urge everyone to lend support to Gaslamp Ball and “Bring Back The Brown 2018.

Padres Pics #9.

GWYNN.
tony-gwynn-safeEverything about this photo rules. From the dirt flying in the air, to both team’s colorful and unique uniforms, to the umpire’s expression and Tony Gwynn‘s body language, this photo is incredible. Oh yeah, if Gwynn said that you’re safe, then in all likelihood, you’re probably safe; so I’m going to assume that was the outcome of this play.

WILLIAMS.
Ted Williams San Diego Padres
Back in July, I made the trek to San Diego to check out the All-Star Game festivities. It was an incredible experience and one that I’ll never forget. In ways, it was baseball (and Padres) overload, but I enjoyed every second of it, especially the All-Star Game Fan Fest.

At Fan Fest, there was a comprehensive timeline on display of San Diego baseball, from the late 1800s to the current Padres. This obviously included the PCL Padres and included the above photo of Ted Williams, which was taken at Lane Field in 1937. I honestly thought I’d seen every documented photo of The Splendid Splinter during his time with the Padres, but apparently, I was wrong, as this one caught my eye and sparked my curiosity.

There’s something that I can’t quite put my finger on that I love about this photo. Maybe it’s old Lane Field behind him, in addition to the look on his face which reflects that he may not have been prepared to pose for the photo, as his bat is by his side and a teammate is sitting to his left. It’s just a great photo of a young man who’d one day be known as the greatest hitter of all time. (Image Source: Getty Images)

NIEKRO.
joe-niekro-padres
The former knuckleballer, Joe Niekro played in the big leagues for 22 seasons, spending time with 7 different teams. One of those teams were the San Diego Padres, whom he played with during the organization’s inaugural season of 1969. He won 8 games and lost 17, with an ERA of 3.70 over 202 innings. Unfortunately, Niekro didn’t use his knuckleball during his time in San Diego, as he started using it a few years later

Unfortunately, Niekro didn’t throw the knuckleball during his time in San Diego. The story goes that he started using it a few years later after joining his brother, Phil Niekro with the Braves. Joe was never the knuckleballer that his brother was, but he was still pretty great. If he had the pitch back in 1969, the end result of those 200 innings would’ve been quite interesting. For a 24-year-old kid on an expansion team, in his 3rd season in the big leagues, it was already respectable.

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)