The First Padres Airing on November 1st!

If you live in the San Diego area, I suggest tuning into KPBS tomorrow at 12pm to watch an airing of “The First Padres,” a documentary film on the San Diego Padres of the old Pacific Coast League. This is obviously up my alley, due to the fact that I love the history of the PCL Padres, but I think it’s an amazing film across the board and anyone who loves San Diego Baseball, or the history of the game, will enjoy it as much as I do.

There are interviews with Padres players of yesteryear, such as original Padre and baseball Hall of Famer, Bobby Doerr. The vintage photos and videos are incredible and San Diego Baseball Historian, Bill Swank lends his knowledge as well. All in all, it’s a can’t miss for anyone who reads this blog.

The film maker who made “The First Padres,” is a local San Diegan named Chris Boyd who is quite talented. I interviewed him a few years ago regarding the film and it turned out pretty great. You can read it HERE. Also, if you can’t catch tomorrow’s airing on KPBS and would like to get your hands on a copy of the film, you can purchase the dvd of the film HERE.

Padres Pics #5.

GWYNN.Tony Gwynn 1998 World Series Home RunSince the World Series is happening, I’m obligated to start this post with the coolest World Series moment in Padres history. When Tony Gwynn took David Wells deep in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series, everything seemed ok in Padres land. It almost seemed like they could make the series competitive. But as we all know, a Mark Langston strike that was called a ball and a Tino Martinez grand slam later and the dynamic of the series was quickly changed. The Padres were not a better team than the Yankees and I certainly don’t think they could’ve won the series; but that should not of been a sweep by the Yankees. Oh well.

Related to the image above, I still have a handful of buttons left if anyone wants one. Just shoot me an EMAIL with your address and I’ll send a little package in the mail for you in no time!

COLEMAN.Jerry Coleman Padres ManagerI recently came across this photo of Jerry Coleman and was delighted. There seems to be a lack of quality photos that exist from the Colonel’s time as the Padres skipper and this one is great.

In my opinion, I think the organization should retire the #2 Jerry wore in 1980. Hell, they put it on display during his memorial, so everyone associates the number with him anyways. Instead, they let guys like Everth Cabrera and Melvin Upton wear it. You can mark this up as another missed opportunity by ownership to give a proper nod to the team’s history. (Image Source: The Lu Lac Political Letter)

TOLAN.
Bobby Tolan Padres
When most people think of baseball players with afros, they think of Oscar Gamble‘s in the 70s or Coco Crisp‘s from a couple years ago. It turns out that former San Diego outfielder, Bobby Tolan had a great one as well. Tolan had a solid career in the professional baseball, which included 13 years in the big leagues and even a season in Japan.

Tolan had two stints with the Padres (1974-1975, 1979) and after wrapping up his playing career, he became a coach for the Padres from 1980 to 1983. In Padres circles, he’s known for being the hitting coach for the Walla Walla Padres in 1981, and therefore having the honor of being Tony Gwynn’s (and John Kruk‘s) first hitting coach in professional baseball.

Padres Quotes #1.

One of the more popular segments I do over at 90 Feet of Perfection, is my “Baseball Quotes” posts. I figured, why not do the same thing here on The 5.5 Hole but related to the Padres and San Diego baseball. Enjoy!

Matt Kemp Padres Brown“Anything Tony Gwynn Sr. wore, I wanna wear.”Matt Kemp on the Padres brown uniforms

TIm Flannery Padres
“Not a chance, you go to hell for wearing that uniform!”Tim Flannery, when asked if he’d ever take a job with the Dodgers

Dick Williams Padres
“My first thought was, ‘Some of these guys have better control than my starting pitchers.’ My second thought was, ‘We’re dead.”Dick Williams on rock throwing Tiger fans after the 1984 World Series

Mark Grant Padres
“Just when you think you got this game licked, the baseball gods will creep up on you and bring you to your knees.”Mark Grant

Jack McKeon Padres
“If you don’t pick Tony Gwynn, all of you are fired.”Jack McKeon, on drafting Gwynn

The Friars of Sports Illustrated.

It’s no secret that the Padres go under the radar in regards to national press. While some take issue with this and are quick to call out the “East Coast Bias,” or something else along those lines, I could care less. Even when they do make the postseason, the Padres are generally viewed as “meh.” Which, from an objective stance, I understand due to the history of the organization and the city they represent. With all this said, you have to admit that when the Padres do get recognition by the larger media outlets, it’s usually pretty cool and memorable. The exception to this, of course, was dealing with the deaths of Tony Gwynn and Jerry Coleman last year. I think we can all agree that as Padres, this is media recognition that everyone could have done with out due to the heartbreaking nature of it all.

Sports Illustrated is one of the biggest sports publications out there and years ago, I realized a fair amount of Padres had graced the cover of the iconic magazine. In 2010, I decided to create a post on 90 Feet of Perfection with some of these covers. When I realized it wasn’t appropriate for the site, I deleted the post. Oh yeah, I can’t fail to mention that it also sucked and was incomplete, so yeah it had to go. Well, when I created The 5.5 Hole, I thought it would be cool to do it again and right. So here is (as far as I know), every Padre featured on the cover of SI. I hope you enjoy these gems.

July 12th, 1976.
Randy Jones Sports Illustrated
After coming in second to Tom Seaver in Cy Young voting in 1975, Randy Jones was honored with the prestigious pitching award in 1976. Sports Illustrated took notice of the season he was having and gave him the cover in July. Their headline surely jinxed his chances at 30 games though. Speaking of, Jones ended up finishing with a 22-14 record that season. If the Padres were any good (they finished 5th in the West), Jones would have most likely won 30 games. Even though wins are kind of a lame stat, that would of been a cool accomplishment for Jones and the Padres.

August 27th, 1979
Gaylord Perry Padres Sports Illustrated
Prior to the 1978 season, the Padres acquired the old spitballer, Gaylord Perry. At 39 years old, he went on to win the Cy Young award and place 8th in MVP voting. The following season, at now 40 year old, he was having another hell of a season, and Sports Illustrated acknowledged this by lumping him in with various other aging baseball stars. Unfortunately, Perry’s time in San Diego didn’t end well though, as he quit the team less than 10 days after this issue came out (another SI jinx?). He threatened to retire if the team didn’t trade him back to the Rangers, which they did in the offseason. I understand that he was sick of losing and was butting heads with management, but that was a douchey move on his part.

April 25th, 1983
Steve Garvey Padres Sports Illustrated
The Padres signed former Dodgers star Steve Garvey prior to the 1983 season and with that, he carried over his consecutive games played streak. Sports Illustrated honored Garvey and his streak by giving him the cover in April, however in July Garvey broke his thumb in a home plate collision against the Braves. This lead to the him going on the DL and ended his streak. If you ask me, this sounds like another SI Padres cover jinx.

April 16th, 1984
Goose Gossage Graig Nettles Padres Sports Illustrated
In what may be my favorite Padres Sports Illustrated cover, former Yankee stars turned Padre stars Goose Gossage and Graig Nettles were featured early on the cover in the 1984 season. I’ve never read the article that accompanied the cover, but would love to check it out sometime. Anything related to the 1984 season fascinates me and I wish I was old enough to of been able to experience it.

April 5th, 1989
Benito Santiago Padres Sports Illustrated
If you were a Padres fan in the late 80s/early 90s, Benito Santiago very well could have been your favorite player behind Tony Gwynn. I’m pretty sure he had to be mine at some point due to a being a rookie of the the year, 4 all-star appearances, 4 silver slugger awards and 3 gold gloves. Maybe it had nothing to do with any of the awards though, and it was probably based solely on the fact that he threw guys out from his knees. This blew mind mind as a kid and even more now, due to the fact that I now catch from time to time.

Sports Illustrated took note of San Diego’s rising star and featured him on the cover of the special “1989 Baseball” issue that coincided with the start of the regular season. This is a great shot, but it strikes me odd that Santiago got a cover before Gwynn ever did. Also, I’m pretty sure a photo from the same shoot was used for his 1991 Topps card.

July 28th, 1997
Tony Gwynn Padres Sports Illustrated
After 16 seasons in the big leagues, Tony Gwynn was finally given a Sports Illustrated cover and boy was it awesome. Anytime you compare someone to Ted Williams, it’s going to garner attention and this cover boldly said, without question that Tony was “The Best Hitter Since Ted Williams.” I own this issue and will never get rid of it.

October 12th, 1998
Greg Vaughn Padres Sports Illustrated
I wasn’t aware of this cover until a couple years ago, which is is due to the fact that there were 4 different covers made for this issue. Each cover featured a player from the final four teams in the postseason, with Greg Vaughn getting the honor for San Diego. Vaughn was a good choice due to the fact that he hit 50 home runs and ended up placing 4th in the MVP honors. While looking over the MVP voting for 1998, it caught me off guard because there were 4 Padres in the top 20. Man, what a year 1998 was for the Padres…

May 13th, 2002
Trevor Hoffman Padres Sports Illustrated
In 2002, Sports Illustrated was somehow convinced that Trevor Hoffman was the best closer ever and gave him a cover. Hey, I loved Trevor as much as the next guy, but to say he’s the best closer ever is silly, even in 2002, before both his and Mariano Rivera‘s legacies were not entirely solidified yet. I come from the frame of mind where I take modern closers with a grain of salt and think they pale in comparison to those of the past. Still, Hoffman was great and this photo is incredible. Hoffman’s leg kick still blows my mind all these years later.

July 25th, 2007
Gwynn Padres HOF Sports Illustrated
In 2007, Sports Illustrated published a Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative issue with covers featuring both Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. I’ve never got my hands on the Gwynn issue, but I will one of these days. An article by Tom Verducci entitled “Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr on the Art of Hitting” is something that I need to read.

June 4th, 2012
ken caminiti padres sports illustrated
You can file this under mainstream media coverage of the Padres that we could all do without. As we all know, the Padres were not immune to PED drama, as the late Ken Caminiti was potentially the first MLB player to openly discuss the growing steroid problem in the game. He did so back in a 2002 issue of Sports Illustrated (read HERE) and in 2012, they revisited the issue, which featured a cover with Caminiti in his Padres uniform. I’ve always felt that it’s a haunting image that stays with you after looking at it.

April 1989
Tony Gwynn Padres Sports Illustrated for Kids
And for an honorable mention, I present Tony Gwynn’s cover of Sports Illustrated for Kids. I had a subscription to SI for Kids when I was a little boy but never had his issue, which is weird because I swear I had a subscription for the first year of the publication. It’s too bad I never owned this, as I would have been SO stoked on it. Honestly, I’d still love to read the his article in it.

Rickey Henderson in San Diego.

Like most people from my generation, there was something about Rickey Henderson that sparked my imagination. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to emulate him as a kid. In little league, I wore his trademark neon green padded Mizuno batting gloves and subscribed to the Rickey frame of mind that “If my uniform doesn’t get dirty, I haven’t done anything in the game.” This is something I still carry with me to this day while playing. I was legitimately excited about Padres baseball from 1996-1997 and again in 2001, solely based on the fact that Tony Gwynn and Rickey Henderson were both on the team. I think you get the idea, I loved Rickey Henderson and his time he spent playing baseball in San Diego.


On October 4th, 2001Rickey Henderson hit a home run which put him ahead Ty Cobb to become the all-time runs scored leader. I looked for this video for years and eventually gave up, fortunately though, MLB uploaded it to YouTube about a year and half ago. Needless to say, I was excited when I discovered it. I suggest watching this gem and paying attention to the following things:

  • Rickey’s slide into home plate. I remember seeing this on ESPN and thinking how fitting it was. The pinnacle of “Rickey being Rickey.”
  • Jerry Coleman’s enthusiasm after Rickey goes yard is amazing and makes me miss The Colonel even more.
  • Jack Murphy Stadium with it’s palm trees. I don’t care what anyone says, they were awesome.
  • The cast of characters that come out to congratulate Rickey brings back some serious memories. The one that got me was Mike Darr. It’s so weird to see him and know that his life would end in a little over 4 months from this day.
  • Tony Gwynn presenting Rickey with the ceremonial gold base at the end of the video.

Rickey Henderson & Tony GwynnOctober 7th, 2001 was a special day in San Diego sports history due to the fact that Rickey Henderson and Tony Gwynn both wore a Padres uniform for the last time. For Gwynn, it was the last game of his playing career and for Henderson, he got his 3000th career hit. Rickey lead off the game with a double for his landmark hit, which you can watch HERE.

The story goes that Henderson did not want to play that day, as he feared it would be a detraction to the celebration of Gwynn’s last game. Tony wasn’t having this and insisted that Henderson play. Rickey was pulled from the game after scoring in the first inning, but in the bottom of the ninth inning, he re-entered the game as the third base coach, when Tony entered the game as a pinch hitter. Unfortunately he grounded out to the shortstop in his last at-bat, presumably while trying to knock the ball through the 5.5 hole.
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Rickey Henderson Surf DawgsIn 2005, at the age of 45, Rickey Henderson played with the San Diego Surf Dawgs, an independent minor league team in the now defunct Golden Baseball League. This was Rickey’s 3rd season in independent ball (he spent parts of the previous two seasons with the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League), and it ended up being his last year in professional baseball. I think it’s safe to say that Rickey loved the game and was hanging on purely for the love, as he surely didn’t need the money. Oh yeah, he had a sweet bobblehead while with the Surf Dawgs that I still need to get my hands on. (Image Source: Jed Jacobsohn Photography)
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Fernando Valenzuela Rickey HendersonDario Veras, Fernando Valenzuela and Rickey Henderson celebrate after beating the Dodgers on the last day of the 1996 season and therefore becoming the National League West champions. For most people, this will always be considered the “Chris Gwynn” game and should rank highly in San Diego’s greatest sports moments.
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San Diego Padres Rickey Henderson (R) slides safely
October 3rd, 1996. In game six of the 1996 NLDS, Rickey slid head first into home plate in typical Rickey fashion. He was safe on the play, but ultimately it didn’t matter as the Cardinals beat the Padres that day and proceeded to sweep them in three straight games. San Diego were “in” every game and it was a heartbreaker to see them knocked out so quickly. I really loved that 1996 team and I thought they would go farther. Those damn Cardinals…

One of the cooler aspects of this play is that Chris Gwynn scored right before him (on a Tony Gwynn single) and Rickey scored right behind the younger Gwynn on a bad throw. If you look at the Getty Images photo of this, you see Chris on his knees, signaling to Rickey to get down with a slide. It’s definitely a cool photo worth checking out.