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.

Padres Pics #8.

PEAVY.
Jake Peavy 1948 Throwback
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 PadresRoberto 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.
Bob Usher & Rocky Colavito PadresA 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)

Padres Pics #7.

1984.
1984 Padres World Series
I believe this photo was taken prior to Game 1 of the 1984 World Series, at Jack Murphy Stadium. While this specific photo only seems to include bench players, bullpen guys and coaches, it’s still pretty cool if you ask me.

GWYNN.
For ages, I’ve looked for video of Tony Gwynn’s 1997 inside the park grand slam against the Dodgers and today I finally found it. Skip forward to 0:37 in the video and you will find Tony going oppo in the grandest of ways. The only downside to this clip is that after the hit, it only shows Tony coming down the third baseline and sliding into home. I would LOVE to see him running the bases, even at that stage in his career.

LYNN.
Fred Lynn PadresRecently, while looking through some old Padres cards from my childhood, I came across a few Fred Lynn cards from both 1990 and 1991. I’d forgotten that Lynn was a Padre at one point and after during a little research, it turns out that San Diego was the last stop of his seventeen year career. Lynn played only one season in San Diego (1990) and the 38 year old didn’t fare all that well, as he put up a .240/.315/.357 clip with 6 home runs over 90 games.

I guess Lynn could’ve done a lot worse in 1990 and since there are Padres cards of him for the 1991 season, I’m lead to believe the team considered bringing him back the following season on a minor league contract or spring training invite. With that all said, it’s odd seeing Lynn in a Padres uniform, but wow, does that brown looks great or what?

Padres Pics #6.

GWYNN.
Tony Gwynn Mets Slide
I came across this photo not long ago and fell in love with it. Tony Gwynn going in hard at second base, while Wally Backman of the Mets attempts to complete a double play. The dirt flying, Backman in the air and Gwynn’s #19 on his brown uniform; It doesn’t get much better than this.

USHER.
Bob Usher San Diego Padres
Bob Usher played professional baseball for parts of 14 seasons and spent time in the big leagues with the Reds, Cubs, Indians and Senators. He also spent time in the Pacific Coast League, where he played with the Angels and Padres. Known for his speed and strong arm, Usher was also a solid hitter. In his only full season with his hometown Padres (1956), he hit .350, while accumulating 208 base hits, which propelled him to the big leagues for one last stint. During Usher’s life in baseball he witnessed or took part in some notable moments in the history of the game that some of you may find interesting:

  1. When people think about legendary baseball brawls, they probably think of the Juan Marichal and John Roseboro brawl in 1965, or even the Braves and Padres brawl in 1984. However, one of the greatest brawls in history did not happen in the big leagues, but in the Pacific Coast League, during a Los Angeles Angels and Hollywood Stars game in 1953. Usher was in the middle of this mayhem and discussed his memories of how it went down in Graham Womack’s blog, “Baseball: Past and Present,” in an interview entitled “Remembering A Good Brawl.” It’s a great interview and the blog itself is incredible, especially if you love the history of the game.
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  2. As a teenager, Usher played on the San Diego American Legion Post No. 6 team that played in the 1940 American Legion World Series, held in Albemare, North Carolina. This is significant due to the fact that the two black members of his team were barred from playing in the final series. One of these players ended up being future Negro League star, John Ritchey. The man would one day be dubbed the “Jackie Robinson of the Pacific Coast League,” due to breaking the PCL color barrier with the Padres. To read more about this series and the ramifications of it, click HERE. A young Bob Usher is featured in the team photo, top row, 3rd from left.
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  3. 1958 was Usher’s last year in professional baseball and he spent it playing with the Miami Marlins of the International League, who were the AAA affiliate of the Phillies. This is significant due to the fact that the ageless wonder, Satchel Paige played on the Marlins and it was his last real season in professional baseball. As a 51 year old, Paige went 10-10 with a 2.95 ERA over 110 innings. Not bad for an old-timer.

In 2011, I met Usher at the Northern California Pacific Coast League Reunion and for a 87 year old, he was quite sharp, witty and took a liking to me. Needless to say, I enjoyed my time hanging out with him. To see a photo of myself along with him, click HERE, where he is to the left of me. Also featured in this photo is former PCL Padres Pitcher, Pete Mesa (far left) and my friend and baseball historian, Bill Swank. Unfortunately, both Mesa and Usher have since passed away. I always meant to go to Usher’s house here in the Bay Area and interview him, but I never got around to it. For this, I’ll always kick myself.

THE FRIAR.
PCL Padres Friar Carlos Hadaway
In 1961, the Pacific Coast League Padres held a contest in which fans were encouraged to design a team mascot. A 19 year local kid named Carlos Hadaway won the contest by creating the now beloved San Diego Padres Friar. However, the original friar was not in his classic swinging pose, as this was implemented in the late 1960s and is supposedly based on THIS photo.

Something I was not aware of until recently is that the friar was absent from the Padres from 1985 to 1995. Regardless of ownership, the team consistently strays away from its traditions on various levels, over and over again. As a fan, this is incredibly frustrating. Oh yeah, by the way, I have the Swinging Friar tattooed on my inner bicep. My brother got it for me as a birthday present years ago and I still love it. Click HERE for the photo.

(Image Source: Baseball In San Diego – From The Padres To Petco by Bill Swank)