Padres Pics #11.

GWYNN.

Tony Gwynn is my all-time favorite baseball player and that can’t be a surprise to anyone reading this blog. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance he was your favorite player too. With the exception of never winning a World Series championship, Gwynn had a storybook career in baseball and I don’t think I’m exaggerating by saying this.

When I first saw this quote, it brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart. You don’t hear professional athletes say things like this, especially with the money and opportunities that are available via free agency. Sometimes I forget how special his career was and I’m reminded of new ways to appreciate him. Gwynn knew what he was doing by staying in San Diego and by staying, he ended up having a baseball career that kids dream of having. I know that I certainly did.

LANE FIELD.

I love all photos related to the Pacific Coast League Padres and this photo of Lane Field from 1940 is no exception. I’ve seen countless photos of Lane Field over the years, but this provides a different view that is entirely new to me.

I’m not 100% certain, but it looks as if the players warming up may be wearing pinstripes. If this is the case, then assuming that the year is correct, this is not a member of the Padres. The PCL Padres did not wear pinstripes between 1939 and 1952. This would mean that the home dugout at Lane Field was along the first-base side of the field.

This leads me to wonder where the home dugout was located in Westgate Park? If it was on the first-base side, then that would mean that both eras of Padres baseball have kept their home dugout on the same side. I’m aware how nerdy it is to even think about this stuff, but hey, this blog is all about the nerdy side of Padres baseball.

OROSCO.

For a period of time around the late 90s and early 2000s, and especially after Tony Gwynn retired, I didn’t pay much attention to professional baseball. With the exception of looking at standings and stats once in awhile, and attending random A’s games, I just didn’t care too much. I was just too preoccupied with skateboarding and playing music at that time in my life. However, there are some things that I missed from that era that I come across now which leaves me scratching my head. This photo is one of them.

Jesse Orosco was one of those guys that every kid my generation was somewhat familiar with. The dude pitched 24 seasons in the big leagues, which lead to him breaking the record for all-time pitching appearances and due to this, I ended up with SO many of his cards over the years.

In 2003, his last season in the big leagues, he played for the Padres, Yankees, and Twins. Prior to finding this photo, I had no recollection of Orosco’s time in San Diego, which is kinda odd because 2003 is when I really started paying attention again. It turns out that the 46-year-old Orosco only logged 25 innings with the Padres before getting sent to the Yankees in July. His era at the time of the deal was 7.56, so I think it’s safe to say he was done. Still, I thought it was cool when I discovered that he was a Padre for a short period of time in the twilight of his career.

Padres Pics #9.

GWYNN.
tony-gwynn-safeEverything about this photo rules. From the dirt flying in the air, to both team’s colorful and unique uniforms, to the umpire’s expression and Tony Gwynn‘s body language, this photo is incredible. Oh yeah, if Gwynn said that you’re safe, then in all likelihood, you’re probably safe; so I’m going to assume that was the outcome of this play.

WILLIAMS.
Ted Williams San Diego Padres
Back in July, I made the trek to San Diego to check out the All-Star Game festivities. It was an incredible experience and one that I’ll never forget. In ways, it was baseball (and Padres) overload, but I enjoyed every second of it, especially the All-Star Game Fan Fest.

At Fan Fest, there was a comprehensive timeline on display of San Diego baseball, from the late 1800s to the current Padres. This obviously included the PCL Padres and included the above photo of Ted Williams, which was taken at Lane Field in 1937. I honestly thought I’d seen every documented photo of The Splendid Splinter during his time with the Padres, but apparently, I was wrong, as this one caught my eye and sparked my curiosity.

There’s something that I can’t quite put my finger on that I love about this photo. Maybe it’s old Lane Field behind him, in addition to the look on his face which reflects that he may not have been prepared to pose for the photo, as his bat is by his side and a teammate is sitting to his left. It’s just a great photo of a young man who’d one day be known as the greatest hitter of all time. (Image Source: Getty Images)

NIEKRO.
joe-niekro-padres
The former knuckleballer, Joe Niekro played in the big leagues for 22 seasons, spending time with 7 different teams. One of those teams were the San Diego Padres, whom he played with during the organization’s inaugural season of 1969. He won 8 games and lost 17, with an ERA of 3.70 over 202 innings. Unfortunately, Niekro didn’t use his knuckleball during his time in San Diego, as he started using it a few years later

Unfortunately, Niekro didn’t throw the knuckleball during his time in San Diego. The story goes that he started using it a few years later after joining his brother, Phil Niekro with the Braves. Joe was never the knuckleballer that his brother was, but he was still pretty great. If he had the pitch back in 1969, the end result of those 200 innings would’ve been quite interesting. For a 24-year-old kid on an expansion team, in his 3rd season in the big leagues, it was already respectable.

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.

Bridging the Gap: The PCL Padres & MLB Padres (Part 2).

In part two of “Bridging the Gap: The PCL Padres & MLB Padres,” I share those who have a connection to both the PCL and MLB Padres via managing or coaching. This list is solely based on my personal research, so it’s quite possible I could be overlooking someone. Much like part one of this project, I’ll update this post for reference reasons if it turns out this is the case.

Whitey Wietelmann
Whitey Wietelmann PadresWhitey Wietelmann is a name that I hope most Padres fans are somewhat familiar with. In some ways, Wietelmann was “Mr. Padre” prior to Tony Gwynn due his years spent with the team in different capacities and his love for Padres baseball. Wietelmann played parts of nine seasons in the big leagues with both the Boston Braves/Bees and Pirates and after his big league career ended, he found himself in the Pacific Coast League. After one season with the Sacramento Solons, he found himself in San Diego with the PCL Padres in 1949, where he played until 1952. Wietelmann fell in love with the city San Diego and decided to move there. He never left.

After his playing days ended, Wietelmann was hired as a coach for the PCL team from 1957 to 1958, then from 1960 to 1965, and again in 1968. After MLB granted San Diego an expansion team in 1969, Wietelmann joined the big league staff as the bullpen coach, where he stayed for an entire decade. Even after 1979, Wietelmann still stayed active in the Padres organization through the early 1990s as an advisor, handyman/assistant equipment manager, and even a clubhouse cook. For this, he was dubbed “Mr. Indispensable,” and was a beloved member of the San Diego Padres. 

Three fun facts about Whitey:
1) He threw out the ceremonial first pitch of Game 4 of the 1984 NLCS against the Cubs. As you all know, this was the Garvey homerun game.

2) Wietelmann kept a scrapbook collection of every single MLB Padres box score, from their inaugural season of 1969 until 1993. The collection of scrapbooks is now taken care of by the San Diego SABR Baseball Research Center and continues to be updated to this day. 

3) Curious as to who Tony Gwynn got his famous #19 from? Search no farther than Whitey Wietelmann. Whitey wore #19 as a coach for both a PCL Padres and MLB Padres. After his days as a uniformed staff member ended, long time Padres equipment Manager Ray Peralta got “permission” from Whitey to assign the number to Gwynn. In fact, before Gwynn’s first major league game in 1982 against the Phillies, it was Whitey who physically brought him his new jersey. According to Tony, Whitey informed him that only a few players had worn #19, so don’t disgrace it. Gwynn said he was just happy that it was lower than #53, his spring training number. Ten years later Tony asked Whitey how was he doing and he responded by saying “Yeah, kid, you’re doing all right.” 

Larry Bowa
Larry Bowa Padres Manager
I assume most people who read this are familiar with Larry Bowa. He’s still quite involved with baseball and is currently the bench coach for the Phillies. For me though, I’ll always think of him as a Padre due to the fact that he was the Manager of the team when I first became interested in baseball in 1987/1988. In fact, I loved THIS card as a kid and still think of the Padres teams from that era quite fondly. Besides managing the MLB team, Bowa spent a quick minute in San Diego in 1966 as a player, during the team’s time as the AAA affiliate of the Phillies.

A cool sidenote: Although I’ve never read it, his book “Bleep: Larry Bowa Manages,” which he wrote with Barry Bloom, features the manager in his Padres uniform.

Deacon Jones
Deacon Jones San Diego Padres
George William “Deacon” Jones played for the PCL Padres in 1960, during the team’s short time as the AAA affiliate of the White Sox. Although he only played in the big leagues for small parts of three seasons, he spent parts of 11 seasons in the minor leagues, where he was a notable power hitting prospect in the White Sox system, until a shoulder injury derailed his career. Jones came back to San Diego as the hitting coach for the MLB team from 1984 to 1987, serving under Managers Dick Williams, Steve Boros and the above mentioned Larry Bowa.

At the age of 81, Jones is still involved in baseball, working in the Sugar Land Skeeters organization, a team in the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Dick Sisler
Dick Sisler San Diego PadresSisler was an outfielder and first basemen for the Padres from 1954 to 1956, during the classic era of the Pacific Coast League. Even though it was near the end of his playing career (he hung up spikes after the 1958 season), his three seasons for the Friars were solid. In fact, he was a pretty solid player in general and was even an All-Star with the Phillies in 1950. Sisler eventually came back to sunny San Diego as a hitting/first base coach for MLB Padres during the 1975 and 1976 seasons, under manager John McNamara. However McNamara is is best known as the manager who essentially blew the 1986 World Series for the Red Sox.

Bob Skinner
Bob Skinner San Diego Padres
Despite having an impressive career as a player where he was an All-Star, Bob Skinner never actually played for the Padres at any point. However, he did manage the PCL team for two seasons (1967-1968), during their time as the AAA affiliate of the Phillies. He was later hired as the hitting coach/third base coach for the MLB Padres, where he stayed from 1970 to 1973, and joined the team again for the 1977 season.

Skinner actually has one win under his belt as a manager for the Padres, where I assume he filled in on an interim basis or during a suspension.

Jim Snyder
Jim Snyder Padres
Jim Snyder served as the bench coach for the MLB Padres from 1991 to 1992, serving under both Greg Riddoch and Jim Riggleman. But long before Snyder came to San Diego to coach the MLB team, he played for the PCL team in 1960, during their time as an affiliate of the White Sox. Unfortunately, that’s really all I have on him worth mentioning.

Bridging the Gap: The PCL Padres & MLB Padres (Part 1).

1936 & 1969 Padres(the 1936 inaugural PCL Padres & 1969 inaugural MLB Padres)

It’s no secret that I love baseball history. I’m serious, I LOVE it. Along with the Negro Leagues, the history of the old Pacific Coast League is my favorite era in the history of the game. I’m from the West Coast, so my interests are definitely shaped by where I’m from and for many people out here, the “old” or “classic” PCL (1903 to 1957) was the closest thing they had to big league baseball until MLB’s westward expansion in 1958.

I come from the frame of mind that I wish Major League Baseball never expanded to the West Coast. I’m aware that this sounds odd, but I wish the PCL succeeded in their goal of becoming the “third major league.” For a period of time this looked like a possibility as the league was granted open classification in 1952. However, by 1957 this became a pipedream when both the Dodgers and Giants committed to relocating out West the following season. The PCL would never recover and it soon became just another MLB affiliated minor league. Good or bad, this is what the league still functions as to this day.

On different levels, the Padres had one of the more interesting histories in the PCL. After losing their bid for an MLB expansion team in 1961 to the Angels, San Diego was later successful in 1969. After expansion was granted to San Diego, an almost seamless transition from having an affiliated minor league team for over a decade, to now having a Major League baseball team quickly took place. With the same name, same owner in C. Arnholt Smith and even the same home in Jack Murphy Stadium (then known as San Diego Stadium), the city of San Diego essentially experienced a “graduation” in regards to their baseball team. As they say, the rest is history.

With all this said, I recently found myself wondering if anyone had played for both the PCL Padres and MLB Padres? If anyone had, I knew it would more than likely be someone who played for the PCL Padres after the classic PCL era. Anyone playing professional baseball prior to this would probably be a bit too old to join an MLB expansion team over a decade later. After doing some research, it seemed as if I was correct in this assumption, but what did catch me off guard is that the list is kind of long. In any case, I thought it would be fun to make a list of these players and do a write up on each of them and their ties to San Diego.

So without further ado, here are the players that wore “Padres” across their chests for both the Pacific Coast League and the Major Leagues.

Roberto Peña
Roberto Pena 1969 Padres
Peña was an infielder who played for the PCL Padres in 1967 & 1968, during the team’s time as the AAA affiliate of the Phillies. He was then drafted in the 1968 expansion draft by the MLB Padres, where he played the 1969 season with the team. Playing three consecutive seasons in San Diego, which consisted of both PCL and MLB is kinda cool if you ask me. I recently came across THIS article regarding Peña, which is worth reading.

Steve Arlin
Steve Arlin San Diego Padres
Like Peña above, Arlin also spent back to back seasons in San Diego, as both a PCL and MLB Padre. He was a pitcher for the PCL team as a Philadelphia farmhand in 1968 and was later drafted in that year’s expansion draft by the MLB Padres. He played with the MLB Padres for parts of the next six seasons. Unfortunately, during his time in the big leagues with San Diego, Arlin is best known for leading the league in losses in back to back seasons (despite pitching pretty well) and losing a no-hitter in 1972 against the Phillies with two out in the ninth inning.

Jerry Johnson
Jerry Johnson San Diego Padres
Jerry Johnson was a pitcher for the PCL Padres in 1968, during their time as the AAA affiliate of the Phillies. He eventually signed with the MLB Padres in 1975, where he played the next two seasons. Johnson’s claim to baseball fame is related to nothing he actually did on the field, but a trade he was part of. In 1969, he was traded from the Phillies to the Cardinals in a seven player trade. Why is this significant? It was the famous Curt Flood trade, in which he challenged the reserve clause and eventually changed the game of baseball forever.

Lowell Palmer
Lowell Palmer San Diego Padres
Palmer was a pitcher for the PCL Padres in 1968, during their time as the AAA affiliate of the Phillies. He later played for the MLB Padres in 1974, where he wrapped up his big league career, which lasted parts of five seasons with four teams. Not too much else to say about the guy besides the fact that he always wore glasses when he played. Sometimes it looked cool, other times it looked creepy. Google image search him, you’ll see what I mean.

Rick Wise
Rick Wise San Diego Padres
Wise may be the most recognizable name on this list due to the fact that he pitched for eighteen years in the big leagues and was an all-star in both 1971 and 1973 and even pitched a no-hitter for the Phillies in 1971. He played for the PCL Padres in 1966 during their time as the Phillies AAA affiliate and played for the MLB Padres for three seasons (1980-1982), before hanging up his spikes for good.

Gary Sutherland
Gary Sutherland San Diego Padres
Sutherland was an infielder for the PCL Padres in 1966 during their time as the AAA affiliate of the Phillies and played for the MLB Padres in 1977, for one of his thirteen seasons he spent in the big leagues. Both Sutherland’s father and brother also played professional baseball

Billy McCool
Billy McCool San Diego Padres
McCool played for the PCL Padres in 1963, during the team’s time as the AAA affiliate of the Reds. He later found himself back in San Diego after being drafted in the 1968 expansion draft by the MLB Padres. He was an all-star in 1966 with the Reds and has one of the “coolest” last names in baseball history (obviously).

So that’s everyone. It’s possible I could have missed someone, and if it comes to light that I did, I’ll update this post for reference reasons. In addition, I’ve written a part two for coaches and managers, which I suggest giving a read if you enjoyed this post.