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.

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 bittersweet 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 for 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 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 was 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 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 mustache 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 haven’t 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 afterward 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 mustached 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 worshiped 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 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.”

Billy Herman
billy-herman-padres
Billy Herman is one of those names that I’ve heard of a lot and know was an important figure in the game, but for some reason, I wasn’t quite familiar with for some reason or another. When I initially created this list, I missed Herman as I had NO idea that he had any connection to the Padres.

After some research, I discovered that Herman had a 22 year career playing professional baseball, where he played for 4 MLB teams and was a 10 time All Star. After his playing career, he managed both the Pirates and Red Sox in the ’60s and later was a coach for various teams; including the World Champion 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and Padres from 1978 to 1979.

Herman was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975, along with Earl Averill, Bucky Harris, and Negro League star, Judy Johnson.

Bob Lemon
bob-lemon-padres
Bob Lemon played his entire big league career with the Indians. In fact, he never played for another organization during his playing career and due to this, he spent a short period of time with the PCL Padres in 1958; as the Padres were the AAA affiliate of the Indians at that time. Lemon was at the end of his career as his pitching arm was about spent at that point, but still appeared in 12 games for San Diego, going 2–5 with a 4.34 ERA.

In addition to pitching for the Padres, Lemon also appeared in 13 games as an outfielder for Friars; where he held a 1000% fielding (22 putouts in 22 chances). After doing some research, it turns out that Lemon was one of an athlete. He came up as a position player in the minors, started his big league career in 1941 as a utility player and eventually transitioned to a full time pitcher in 1948. This must have been the right career choice, as it lead to his Hall of Fame induction in 1976; where he entered alongside Robin Roberts, Roger Connor, Freddie Lindstrom, and Negro League star, Oscar Charleston.

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 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 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 afterward. 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 to 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, 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)