On May 6th, 2006, in a game against the Cubs, the Padres first wore their 1948 PCL throwback uniforms, during a two day celebration of the Negro Leagues. You may ask why would they wear Pacific Coast League uniforms during a Negro League celebration? Well, they wore the throwbacks to honor John Ritchey, the former Negro League catcher who broke the PCL color barrier with the Padres in 1948 and became known as the “Jackie Robinson of the Pacific Coast League.”
While I love the old PCL and the uniforms from that era, I find it a little odd that they didn’t go with the San Diego Tigers of the West Coast Negro Baseball League. I assume it’s because the league was short lived not much is known about the league to casual fans, but then again, that’s what would make it interesting and fun.
Jake Peavy was the starting pitcher that day and he did it in style, wearing high stirrups and saluting the Negro Leagues in a way that makes baseball history nerds like myself very happy. Before the first pitch of the game, Peavy did a Satchel Paige-esque double-pump windup before delivering a strike to Juan Pierre. You can read about it HERE. (Image Source: Dandy’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Blog)
PENA.Roberto Pena was the starting second basemen for the inaugural 1969 San Diego Padres, and based on this photo of him diving to lay a tag on a Phillies player, he also spent some time at first base. Oh yeah, he also played shortstop and third as well, so he was quite versatile. Pena only played one of his six big league seasons in San Diego and later wrapped up his playing career in the Mexican Leagues with the Tampico Stevedores and Yucatan Leones. Awhile back, I did a write up on Pena on “Bridging the Gap: The PCL Padres & MLB Padres (Part 1),“ due to the fact that he played for both the PCL and MLB Padres. (Image Source: Mears Auctions)
USHER & COLAVITO.
A 1956 San Diego Union photo featuring PCL Padre outfielders, Bob Usher and Rocky Colavito. Here is the original caption to the photo:
“Padre, Bob Usher, left, inspects throwing arm of Rocky Colavito, new outfielder on option from Cleveland. Colavito’s throwing arm is termed by many veterans as the finest in organized baseball while Usher’s is one of the best in the Pacific Coast League. Colavito is subject to 24-hour recall”
Rocky Colavito’s legacy as a baseball player is largely associated with the Indians, and rightfully so, as he spent 8 of his 14 big league seasons in Cleveland. Still, it’s interesting to know that Colavito spent 35 games with the Padres in 1956, during the team’s time as the AAA affiliate of the Indians.
Usher, on the other hand, spent parts of two seasons in San Diego, in addition to playing 4 seasons with the PCL Angels and bouncing around 4 teams during his 6 seasons in the big leagues. I previously wrote about Usher HERE, which I suggest checking out. The guy lived an interesting life in baseball, which lead to him being present at some notable moments in the history of the game. (Image Source: The J.G. Preston Experience)