Padres Pics #2.

GWYNN.
1984 NLCS Gwynn SutcliffeIn what is one of the greatest moments in San Diego sports history, Steve Garvey hit a two run walk-off home run against Cubs closer Lee Smith in Game Four of the 1984 NLCS. I recently came across this photo of Tony Gwynn ecstatically rounding third base while Smith exits the field. Needless to say, I was delighted as I had never seen it before. Image Source: Chicago Tribune
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WINFIELD.
Winfield Pavilion 1978 All-Star Game
The 1978 All-Star Game was held at Jack Murphy Stadium and both Rollie Fingers and Dave Winfield represented the Friars. During Winfield’s time in the big leagues, his foundation ran the “Winfield Pavilion Program,” where’d he provide tickets to young baseball fans. During the 1978 Midsummer Classic, he ran into a bit of a speedbump in regards to this:

In 1978, Dave planned to bring 500 kids to the All-Star Game in San Diego. In a radio interview the day before, he inadvertently invited “all the kids of San Diego” to attend. Over 10,000 showed up — and Winfield brought them all into batting practice. It was the first open All-Star batting practice.

This has to be a logistical nightmare for Winfield and the Padres to deal with, but still, it’s a very cool story. Text Source: Winfield Foundation
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GASTON.
Cito Gaston 1969 Padres
Cito Gaston
 of the Padres slides into home during a spring training game against the Brewers. Based on the yellow uniform that Gaston is wearing and that Ellie Rodriguez is catching for Milwaukee, this photo had to be taken in 1972 or 1973. Image Source: Getty Images 

Remembering Tony Gwynn.

Following Tony Gwynn’s death last year, I posted this on 90 Feet of Perfection. I’ve since launched this blog with a name in honor of him, so it’s only fitting that I share it again, one year after his death. Needless to say, it still hurts and I’m still in shock that my childhood hero is gone.
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Southern Oregon was a long way from San Diego, but my family always maintained our roots; particularly when it came to sports. It was my Dad who officially introduced me to baseball and I still remember the conversation quite well. I must have been in second grade at the time and he explained a little about the game and told me about the San Diego Padres. To be honest, I didn’t think too much of the conversation, but I knew that my parents, grandmother and older brothers all liked baseball, so I wasn’t turned off by the idea. Around the same time, I remember kids starting to play little league and being slightly jealous. Not that they were actually playing, but more so that I could not take part in the conversations about their games. Related to this, a lot of kids I knew went to the local Medford A’s games and in turn were fans of the Oakland A’s. I almost feel like it was the “cool” thing to do. The same went for collecting and trading baseball cards. After a short period of time, I wanted in on all of these things as well and before that year was over, I was consumed by it all.

I come from a family of long-time San Diego Padres fans and that for some members of my family, this goes back to the days of the old Pacific Coast League Padres. Once I personally became interested in the team, this meant getting my hands on every single Padres baseball card possible. I remember being absolutely fascinated with the brown and orange that Padres players donned on my 1987 & 1988 Topps cards. However, what captivated me the most was the guy who wore #19 for the Padres, Tony Gwynn.

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I have so many fond childhood memories that involve Tony Gwynn on some level or another: I remember the Gwynn-related magazine and newspaper clippings on my bedroom walls. I remember countless conversations with family about him. I remember my Grandma meeting him on different occasions and her telling him about me and even attempting to organize a phone call between us, which, unfortunately, never successfully happened. I remember saving paper route money to buy an autographed photo of him. I remember my Mom getting me his 1983 Fleer rookie card for Christmas one year and just staring at it in amazement. I remember seeing his 2000th career hit in person and being so happy that tears came to my eyes. I remember attempting to negotiate a trade for a Gwynn Donruss card that my brother got in a pack while playing left field during a little league game (he was behind a fence watching and had just opened a pack). I remember writing #19 on bills of my caps. I honestly can go on and on.

In a way, I think it’s safe to say that Tony Gwynn was and is a big part of who I am. I’ve always thought this was odd, since, in many ways, I’ve always disliked the idea of idolizing people. I guess Tony Gwynn is one of the few exceptions I’ve made in regards to this.

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Like many people, I knew he was sick. I knew the cancer had returned and that he was being treated again. However, this time was different as there was an uneasiness about it all. All you had to do was read between the lines to know that something was very wrong. He was not able to attend the 1984 San Diego Padres celebration back in May and speculation began that this was quite serious. Still, when I got the news the morning Tony passed away, I was in complete shock. At first, I didn’t think it was possible and I felt numb. This quickly changed and I have no problem admitting that I shed tears that day and on different occasions since. This is something I experienced when Jerry Coleman passed away in January, but with Tony, it went much deeper. The Padres, the city of San Diego, the world of baseball and many people I care about all lost someone that meant a lot to them. It shook me to my core.

I never met the guy, but he was my hero due to what he accomplished on the field and the person he was off the field. How I felt about the guy never changed. Even during the time in my life when interest in baseball often took a backseat to things like music and skateboarding, I always managed to check box scores and read articles to stay updated on how he was playing. There’s a reason I kept everything from my childhood Tony Gwynn collection and have continued to add to it in adulthood. Simple enough, the guy was special and had an impact on me.

San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs

My grandmother passed away this last November and my whole life, up until she got sick, I would call her and talk about baseball. Specifically the Padres, and for many years this meant Tony Gwynn. She would have been heartbroken if she knew that Tony had passed at such an early age. She absolutely adored the man. I spent a lot of my childhood talking to my own late mother about this him as well. She also thought he was great, although her favorite all-time Padre was Goose Gossage. Since Tony passed away, I’ve had multiple conversations with my Dad about him. What I’m getting at is that Tony Gwynn was special and impacted so many people in a positive way and in my case, he impacted 3 generations of my family. I have a hard time believing that this is unique to just my family.

Sportswriter Barry Bloom recently said that “Tony Gwynn may be the single most important sports figure in history to a single community.” To some, this may be a bold statement, but not me, I believe in it wholeheartedly. Like many people, I’m still having a hard time grasping the fact that this person, who was a big part of my childhood and represents so much about the game I love, has passed away.

With that said, it brings me joy knowing that there was a Tony Gwynn in this world and while growing up, I had such a great guy to look up to.

Mr. Padre may be gone, but I think it’s safe to say that he will never be forgotten.

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Padres Pics #1.

Much like my blog 90 Feet of Perfection, I often post interesting photos & videos with information and thoughts regarding them. I decided to kickstart the blog by doing something similar here with a series of posts called “Padres Pics.”

BEVACQUA.Kurt Bevacqua dressed as Dick WilliamsAfter the infamous 1984 Braves and Padres brawl, manager Dick Williams was suspended for his involvement in the chaos. During his suspension, infielder Kurt Bevacqua dressed up as Williams prior to a game and brought the lineup card out to the umpire crew. In Bevacqua’s words, the umpires “freaked out” before realizing it wasn’t Williams. The umps proceeded to turn him around so that cameras could document this humorous event. In my opinion, baseball is too serious these days and could use more characters such as Bevacqua. Image Source: Kurt’s facebook page
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.GWYNN.
Any video related to Tony Gwynn makes me happy and this one was no exception. I found this kind of hidden on the Padres official site yesterday and was surprised to see that not many people had shared or viewed it yet. In any case, it’s a video of Alicia Gwynn being interviewed inside the Gwynn household. It features some great shots of Tony’s baseball memorabilia and some heartwarming words from Alicia regarding her late husband. Definitely worth checking out.
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RICHARDS.Gene Richards San Diego Padres
Gene Richards played 7 of his 8 years in the big leagues with the Padres. He broke in with San Diego in 1977 and left after the 1983 season via free agency, where he joined the Giants for one season before wrapping up his playing career. Richards had some really good years in San Diego, where he accumulated a ton of hits and stolen bases, in addition to finishing with a solid batting average. As far as Padres from the past go, I feel Richards often goes under the radar.

I decided to bring up Richards because every Padres fan should know that besides Tony Gwynn, he’s the only player to officially also wear #19 in the history of the organization; which he did so for a period of time during the 1978 season. I’ve looked for ages to find a clear photo of Richards wearing #19, but I’ve had no such luck. If anyone ever comes across this, please share this with me!