My Favorite Padres Baseball Cards From My Childhood.

Like many people, one of my first real introductions to the game of baseball was via baseball cards. When I was a kid, around 2nd and 3rd grade, it was almost an epidemic. It seems as if EVERY little boy in my school and neighborhood seemed to catch baseball card fever; even those who didn’t seem to like or play the game. It was just the “cool” thing to do. I stopped collecting cards around the end of junior high (approx. 1994), but I still have my collection all packed away safely in boxes.

When thinking of an idea for a new post, it crossed my mind to do a list of my favorite Padres cards from my childhood and share thoughts and memories related to them. Yes, it’s kinda nerdy, but this whole blog is essentially about the nostalgic (and often nerdy) side of Padres baseball, so I’m ok with that. With that said, I look forward to receiving feedback and seeing everyone else’s favorite Padres cards. I’m certain that some of you will bring some to my attention that I forgot about over the years.

Steve Garvey 1987 Topps.

I’ve never been quite sure why I’ve always loved this card. Maybe because ’87 Topps is my favorite card set of all-time? Maybe it’s Steve Garvey looking super suave in his Padres brown? Maybe it’s the unconventional pose? Either way, it was one of the earliest cards I remember seeing and it always stuck with me. I still think it’s pretty sweet.

Somewhat related, even though I was pretty young, I remember knowing that there was something “weird” about Garvey that lead me to believe I shouldn’t be a big fan of his? Maybe I saw something on the news about his affairs or saw a “Steve Garvey Is Not My Padre” bumper sticker or something? Maybe a family member said something? It could have been simply the fact that he was known as a Dodger and not a Padre? Either way, at an early age, I took his time as a Padre with a grain of salt. Over the years, I’ve found this to be silly and really appreciate his time in San Diego. Hell, I even used him in my logo for this blog! Still, I’d love to get a “Steve Garvey Is Not My Padre” shirt one day.

Tony Gwynn & Benito Santiago Padres Leaders 1988 Topps.

When I first discovered baseball, Tony Gwynn and Benito Santiago were essentially gods to me. They were the faces of the organization and I thought there was no one cooler than those two guys. When I came across this Padres team leader card in a 1988 pack of Topps, my head about exploded. Gwynn AND Santiago on the same card? Still, when I look at it, I get stoked. Part of that surely has to do with how amazing their uniforms are, though.

Sandy Alomar Jr. 1989 Fleer.

Before becoming solidified big leaguers, I remember my dad telling me, to keep an eye on Roberto and Sandy Alomar. From that moment on, I was an Alomar super-fan and when the brothers broke into the big leagues and I started getting my hands on their cards, I was incredibly excited. There was something about this 1989 Fleer card that I just loved. Besides the fact that it was his rookie card, I loved that he’s (obviously) wearing the brown that I adored, has a smile on his face, and is in the squat for the photographer. If you ask me, this is baseball card perfection.

Joey Cora 1990 Donruss.

I thought Joey Cora was going to be a long-time Padre, but it was not meant to be. This assumption was based on nothing, whatsoever, besides the fact that I had a ton of his cards while he was in the organization and I took a liking to him. Plus his name was Joey, and that’s pretty cool, right? Unfortunately, he ended up only playing parts of three seasons in San Diego, but he did go on to have a solid career in the big leagues with other teams, including an All-Star season with the Mariners in 1997. Still, I’ll always think of him as a Padre.

I think anyone who grew up with baseball cards in this era would agree that 1990 Donruss was a terrible set. They were sold EVERYWHERE, aesthetically they were underwhelming, and I feel like the packs of cards often came warped inside the pack. Still, I loved this card. Besides the fact that Cora looks like a little leaguer on the front, the BACK mentioned that he was STABBED during the 1986 season and missed 8 weeks. As a kid, this absolutely blew my mind. I even remember talking to my mom about it and asking how he survived? In my head, being stabbed meant certain death and Cora was a total badass for surviving this. You can read about the incident HERE, thanks to the biggest Joey Cora fan on earth, Joe Lanek from Gaslamp Ball.

Tony Gwynn 1986 Topps.

1986 was over a year before I fell in love with baseball and started collecting cards, but this Tony Gwynn card was one of my favorites. This is due to the fact that it was one of the first cards I remember retroactively acquiring. 1986 seemed like an incredibly long time before my baseball emergence came to be, so this card seemed very “vintage” to me at the time. Plus it featured my favorite player, on my favorite team, so naturally, I fell in love with it.

Larry Bowa 1988 Topps.

This may seem like an odd choice for a favorite card, but for some reason, I was fascinated with it. I have no explanation for this, but I do remember thinking that the card was quite vibrant looking and that Larry Bowa looked young for a manager. The only manager I was probably familiar with at that point was Sparky Anderson, who seemed to be as old as time. I remember being bummed when I heard that Bowa was fired early in the 1988 season. I couldn’t understand why anyone would do such a thing. He seemed so cool to me.

Bruce Bochy 1988 Topps.

Much like the Larry Bowa card above, I also thought this card was very colorful and vibrant. In addition to this, I thought Bruce Bochy looked exactly what a baseball player is supposed to look like: grizzled, determined and wearing a cool uniform. I remember reading the back of this card and seeing that he was born in France and that fascinating me, due to my interest in geography at a young age. Plus it just seemed unreal that someone born in France would wind up in the big leagues.

It’s kind of odd, Bochy has already been in San Francisco for a decade, but I still think of him as a Padre, much like I do with Tim Flannery. Maybe I should get over that one day…

Ted Williams 1992 Upper Deck.

Anyone that knows me or reads my blogs, knows that I’m a sucker for the old Pacific Coast League. Something about the classic PCL just gets my nerdy baseball juices flowing. As I’ve mentioned here and on 90 Feet of Perfection, I remember my parents and grandmother telling me about going to Padres games back when they were a minor league team. I didn’t quite understand what they meant until I was a bit older, but the stories seemed cool to me and when Upper Deck released this Ted Williams card in 1992, I remember just looking at it in confusion and excitement.

I obviously knew who Ted Willams was at this point, but I had no idea that he played for the minor league Padres. When I came across this card, I remember squinting at the photo to make sure my eyes were not deceiving me. I thought there was NO way that Upper Deck would feature a Padres image from an era that I only heard about through family members. And Ted Williams playing for them was just too much for my young brain to comprehend.

Tony Gwynn 1992 Topps Stadium Club.

A close up of my baseball hero wearing the Oakley sunglasses that he helped popularize? Of course, I was going to love this card! For some reason, this card just really made me want to play baseball. The reflection in his sunglasses was interesting to me and it made me wanna be out taking BP.

I remember reading articles in Spring Training one year about Gwynn switching from traditional flip-down sunglasses to modern Oakley sunglasses. For some reason, it was a big deal and I was filled with a bit of pride that “my guy” was the first to do it. I could be wrong, but I believe that some old school baseball people were nit too stoked on them? Either way, this card is still awesome.

Padres Four Corners 1993 Upper Deck.

What can I say about this card that any other Padres fan from my generation didn’t already think? It was awesome and sparked optimism for a kid who only knew of the Padres as a being a losing organization. For a moment in time, it seemed like San Diego was stacking studs and it seemed as if a golden age of Padres baseball was on the horizon. Well, Tom Werner quickly shot that down, with an infamous fire sale that drained the organization of much of its talent. It’s still a bit saddening, but at least we will always have this awesome card featuring Gary Sheffield, Phil Plantier, Tony Gwynn, and Fred McGriff. Oh yeah, while they were not brown, those orange and blue uniforms look pretty damn sweet.

AND MY NUMBER ONE ALL-TIME FAVORITE CARD:

Tony Gwynn 1983 Fleer.

Like many people reading this, I pretty much worshiped Tony Gwynn as a kid. I had to get my hands on anything and everything that had Gwynn’s likeness on it, and this obviously meant his baseball cards. Up until 5th grade, the one Gwynn-related item that escaped me was one of his rookie cards. To me, it was the holy grail and the idea of owning one seemed like a far-fetched dream. I didn’t have the patience to save my allowance and spend it all on one item, so I usually spent my money on various, less expensive baseball card and comic book purchases.

Well, when Christmas of my 5th-grade year rolled around, my mom asked me what I wanted and my number one item was a Tony Gwynn rookie card. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s ALL I wanted. I didn’t get my hopes up, though, because my mom played me good and let it be known that it would be hard to get, or too expensive, or some other excuse that escapes me at the moment. Either way, I believed her, and by the time Christmas came around, I gave up hope that I’d get the card. Well, what do you know? My mom came through and surprised me with the card! I was so happy that I got teary eyed as I held my 1983 Fleer Tony Gwynn rookie card.

This is easily one of the most memorable moments from my childhood. I can’t explain the card’s sentimental value, but to be honest, it doesn’t have a lot to do with baseball or Tony Gwynn, due to my mother passing away when I was in 12th grade. To this day, it reminds me of her and for that reason, this is my all-time favorite baseball card.

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 chooses 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 has 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 have 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 have 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 say that I’ve ever been actually 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.

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.