San Diego Padres (166 Events)
Spring Training: Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres
Goodyear, AZ @ Goodyear Ballpark
Spring Training: San Diego Padres vs. Kansas City Royals
Peoria, AZ @ Peoria Stadium
Spring Training: Chicago White Sox vs. San Diego Padres
Phoenix, AZ @ Camelback Ranch Stadium
Spring Training: San Diego Padres vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Peoria, AZ @ Peoria Stadium
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In 1969, the San Diego Padres joined the ranks of Major League Baseball as one of four new expansion teams, along with the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), the Kansas City Royals and the Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers). Their original owner was C. Arnholt Smith, a prominent San Diego businessman and former owner of the PCL Padres whose interests included banking, tuna fishing, hotels, real estate and an airline. Despite initial excitement, the guidance of longtime baseball executives, Eddie Leishman and Buzzie Bavasi as well as a new playing field, the team struggled; the Padres finished in last place in each of its first six seasons in the NL West, losing 100 games or more four times. One of the few bright spots on the team during the early years was first baseman and slugger Nate Colbert, an expansion draftee from the Houston Astros and still (as of 2013) the Padres' career leader in home runs.
In his first home game as the Padres' new owner in 1974, Ray Kroc grabbed the public address system microphone and apologized to fans for the poor performance of the team, saying, "I have never seen such stupid ball playing in my life." At the same time, a streaker raced across the field, eluding security personnel. Kroc shouted, "Throw him in jail!" The following season, 1975, would be the first season that the Padres would not finish in the National League West cellar (finishing fourth), and brought the promise of an owner who would make the necessary changes to the organization.
The 1978 season brought hope to baseball fans in San Diego, thanks to the arrival a young shortstop named Ozzie Smith, who arrived on the scene and turned the baseball world on its ears with an acrobatic style that redefined how the position should be played in the field. The Padres hosted the All-Star Game that summer. The National League won the contest 7–3 thanks to an MVP performance by Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey, who would play a crucial role for San Diego in the not-too-distant future.
Winfield and Fingers represented the team at the game, but conspicuously absent was starting pitcher Gaylord Perry, who joined the Padres after spending three years with the Texas Rangers. At 39 years of age and coming off a 15–14 season with Texas, little was expected of him. All Perry did that summer was post a 21–6 record and a 2.73 earned run average, edging Montreal's Ross Grimsley to earn the Padres' second Cy Young Award in three seasons. San Diego also picked up another first that summer, compiling an 84–78 mark for manager Roger Craig, the only time in 10 seasons the team finished a season with a winning percentage above .500.
The good times did not last, as the Padres closed out the decade with another losing season in 1979, a 68–93 record that cost Craig his job. Winfield was the lone bright spot, leading the National League with 118 RBIs. The good times continued to fade out as Winfield signed a 10-year contract with the New York Yankees after the 1980 season.
The 1984 season began with a shock: Ray Kroc died of heart disease on January 14. Ownership of the team passed to his third wife, Joan Kroc. The team would wear Ray's initials, "RAK" on their jersey's left sleeve during the entire season, as well as the 1985 and 1986 seasons.
Fortunately, happier times were ahead for the team. The Padres finished at 92–70 in 1984 and won the National League West championship, despite having no players with 100-RBI and only two batters with 20-HR. They were managed by Dick Williams and had an offense that featured veterans Steve Garvey, Garry Templeton, Graig Nettles, Alan Wiggins as well as Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn, who captured his first of what would be eight National League batting championships that year (he would also win in 1987–89 and from 1994–97; Gwynn shares the National League record with Honus Wagner). Gwynn, who also would win five National League Gold Gloves during his career, joined the Padres in 1982 following starring roles in both baseball and basketball at San Diego State University (he still holds the school record for career basketball assists), and after having been selected in the previous year by both the Padres in the baseball draft and by the then San Diego Clippers in the National Basketball Association draft.
The Padres would win their first pennant and move on to the 1984 World Series. The Padres faced the powerful Detroit Tigers, who steamrolled through the regular season with 104 victories. Detroit would eventually win the series and the World Series.
After the Padres won the pennant in 1984, they had some tough times. Tony Gwynn continued to win batting titles (including batting .394 in 1994). The Padres would come close in 1985. They would field eight All-Stars (manager Dick Williams, Tony Gwynn, Graig Nettles, Rich Gossage, Terry Kennedy, Garry Templeton, Steve Garvey, and LaMarr Hoyt) at the 1985 All-Star Game in Minnesota. However, they collapsed at the end of the season, finishing tied for third with the Houston Astros behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds.
Williams was let go as manager just before 1986 spring training. His record with the Padres was 337–311 over four seasons. As of 2011, he was the only manager in the team's history without a losing season. His difficulties with the Padres stemmed from a power struggle with team president Ballard Smith and general manager Jack McKeon. Late in the 1986 season, Gossage was suspended and then reinstated with a $25,000 fine for behavior not in the best interest of the team. Gossage said that Smith "wants choirboys and not winning players" and that Smith "just listens to what Mom says", a reference to Padres owner Kroc, Smith's mother-in-law. Gossage also said Kroc was "poisoning the world with her cheeseburgers." He later apologized to McDonald's, which Gossage said his family would continue to frequent.
Williams was let go as manager just before 1986 spring training. His record with the Padres was 337–311 over four seasons. As of 2011, he was the only manager in the team's history without a losing season.
Midway through the 1990 season, Joan Kroc wanted to sell the team. But she wanted a commitment to San Diego. So Kroc sold it to television producer Tom Werner. Just under six weeks into his new ownership role, Werner attempted to cross-promote the team with one of his television series in between games of a twi-night doubleheader versus the Cincinnati Reds at Jack Murphy Stadium on July 25, 1990.
Under Werner, the old brown that remained in Padres uniforms since their inception were supplanted by navy blue, a nod to the vintage 1940s PCL franchise colors. A trade was also made with the Toronto Blue Jays where Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar were traded for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez. Although extremely unpopular at the time, it was the Sheffield trade that brought in pitcher Trevor Hoffman, who was virtually unknown to Padres fans. While Sheffield led Florida to a World Championship in 1997, Hoffman would be the next franchise player behind Dave Winfield and Tony Gwynn. The Padres would finish dead last in the strike-shortened 1994 season, but Gwynn hit .394 that year (the most since Ted Williams hit over .400 in 1941). After that season, the Padres made a mega-trade with Houston reeling in Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, and others. In November 1995, Kevin Towers was promoted from scouting director to general manager.
In 1996, under new owner John Moores, the team won the NL West in an exciting race, sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in the final series of the regular season. The '96 team featured Gwynn, who won his seventh National League batting championship, National League MVP Ken Caminiti, premier leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson, pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, first baseman Wally Joyner and outfielder Steve Finley. The Padres had led the NL West early in the season only to falter in June, but came back in July and battled the Dodgers the rest of the way. However, they were defeated in the National League Division Series by the Tony La Russa-led St. Louis Cardinals, 3 games to 0.
The Padres suffered an off-year in 1997, plagued by a pitching slump. The one silver lining was Tony Gwynn's eighth and final National League batting title, won in the final days of the season after a down-to-the wire duel with the Colorado Rockies' Larry Walker. Walker barely missed becoming the first Triple Crown winner in baseball since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
In 1998, the team owners would make a bid to have the city of San Diego construct a new stadium for the Padres. To guarantee that the city fathers would vote in the affirmative, the Padres recruited a record number of players for the 1998 season, most of whom would become free agents in 1999. Therefore, they would have the best incentive to have a successful season, to get the best contracts possible (potentially with other teams), in 1999. This gambit was completely successful : The Padres had a record season, the new Ballpark was approved, most of the stars of 1998 left, and the team would have a lackluster year in 1999.
In the 1998 World Series the Padres faced the powerhouse New York Yankees, who had steamrolled through the season with a 114–48 record and drew acclaim as one their greatest teams of all time. There was no offensive player with more than 30 home runs, in contrast to the teams of the 1920s, or 1950s, but they had four players with 24+ and eight with 17+. The Yankees swept the Padres in four games. Mariano Rivera closed out 3 of the 4 games. One of the few bright spots of the series for the Padres was a home run by Tony Gwynn, in Game 1 that hit the facing of the right-field upper deck at Yankee Stadium and put the Padres ahead briefly, 5–2. But the Yankees would score 7 runs in the 7th inning en route to a 9–6 victory.
Entering the 1999 season, some instrumental players to the 1998 World Series team were gone. Brown, a free agent, signed the biggest contract in baseball history with the Dodgers. Finley, a free agent, signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
On October 7, 2001, in a post-game ceremony at Qualcomm Stadium, Tony Gwynn made an emotional farewell to the team that had been his only major-league home. In the game played that day, Rickey Henderson, who in the meantime had rejoined the Padres, collected his 3,000th major-league base hit, a double. Gwynn struck his final major-league hit, also a double, in the previous game. He is presently head coach of the San Diego State University Aztecs, his alma mater. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 29, 2007.
Also in 2001, Dave Winfield became the first player to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a Padre.
After five straight losing seasons in Qualcomm Stadium (1999–2003), the Padres moved into newly built PETCO Park. . Modeled after recent successes in downtown ballpark building (such as San Francisco's AT&T Park), and incorporating San Diego history in the form of the preservation of the facade of the historic Western Metals Company building (now the left-field corner, the corner of the building substituting for the left field foul pole), the new Petco Park is a sharp contrast to their previous home at Qualcomm (Jack Murphy) Stadium which was a cookie-cutter type football-baseball facility located in an outer, mostly commercial-industrial, area of the city near an interstate interchange.
The team somewhat rebranded itself going into the 2004 season, with new colors (navy blue and sand brown), new uniforms and a new advertising slogan, "Play Downtown", referring to the near-downtown location of the new ballpark.
In 2005, the Western Division Champion Padres finished with the lowest-ever winning percentage for a division champion (or for that matter, a postseason qualifier) in a non-strike season, 82–80. Three teams in the Eastern Division finished with better records than San Diego but failed to qualify for the playoffs, including second-place Philadelphia, which won 88 games and all six of its contests with the Padres. There had been some speculation that the Padres would be the first team in history to win a division and finish below .500, but their victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 30 gave them their 81st victory. In the 2005 NLDS, the reigning National League champion St. Louis Cardinals, who finished the season with the majors' best record, swept the Padres in three consecutive games. Thus the Padres finished the season with an overall regular and postseason record of 82–83, the first post-season qualifier in a normal-length season to lose more games than it won overall.
The 2005 Padres featured bright spots, however, including ace pitcher Jake Peavy, the NL strikeout leader, and closer Trevor Hoffman, who claimed his 400th save.
The Padres started April 2006 with a 9–15 record and were stuck in the cellar of the NL West.
However, after going 19–10 in May, the club moved into first place in the division. Closer Trevor Hoffman was elected to the 2006 MLB All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, threw one inning in that game and got the loss. On September 24 (the last home game of the regular season), Hoffman became the all-time saves leader when he recorded his 479th career save, breaking Lee Smith's record of 478 (Hoffman's career total as of the end of the season was 482). Hoffman's 2006 campaign (2.14 ERA, 46 saves in 51 opportunities through 65 games pitched) was one of his best. The 2006 Padres would attribute their success largely to the team's pitching staff. Their ERA was 3.87, first in the NL and trailing only the Detroit Tigers in all of MLB.
On September 30, 2006, the Padres clinched a playoff berth with a 3–1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the final game of the season, the Padres defeated the Diamondbacks 7–6 to win back to back division titles for the first time in team history. The final out of the final game of the 2006 regular season, confirming the Padres as Division champions, was a highly unusual play. With Trevor Hoffman pitching the 9th, 2 out, Diamondback Chris Young was on first. Alberto Callaspo hit a grounder past first. Second baseman Josh Barfield fielded and threw wildly to first, forcing Gonzalez to come off the bag. However, Gonzalez then threw to Khalil Greene at second, beating but not tagging Young. Second base umpire Larry Poncino initially called safe because of the no-tag, but Padres manager Bruce Bochy successfully argued that the force play at second did not need a tag to be declared out. The game, and the season, ended with a changed call. TV replay, however, clearly showed that Greene was off the bag as well, so the original call may have been correct. This call, understandably, was greeted by a long and loud chorus of boos by the Diamondbacks fans who packed Chase Field to bid farewell to Luis Gonzalez.