The San Diego Padres have had a relatively short career compared to other National League baseball teams. This has often been turbulent, with only a splattering of successes for the franchise as a whole.
Individually, though, many of their players have been awarded victories, which has often been the lure needed for fans. Things have started to look up in recent years, and the team are hoping for a World Series win in the not-too-distant future.
The San Diego Padres took their name from the Pacific Coast League team that came to San Diego in 1935, but it was not until 1969 that they joined Major League Baseball. C. Arnholt Smith, a San Diego businessman, was the original owner of the team and previous owner of the PCL Padres.
The San Diego Padres did not have a successful start to their career, finishing in last place in their first six seasons. Nate Colbert, the team’s first baseman, was their only star in these formative years and is still their leader for homeruns.
Colbert was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 1974, which affected the team’s performance even further. However, Dave Winfield was bought the same year and managed successfully to fill his shoes, collecting 1,135 hits, driving in 626 runs and scoring 154 homeruns in the seven seasons he played for the team.
In 1975 he helped the Padres out of the NL West basement for the first time. Around the same time, the Padres were nearly sold to Joseph Danzansky, who planned to move the franchise to Washington D.C.
The transaction was so close to happening that new uniforms were even made, but at the last minute Arnholt Smith changed his mind and sold the franchise to Ray Kroc, the co-founder of MacDonald’s, who kept the team in San Diego.
Randy Jones was another player in the team at the time, and achieved a great turnaround, going from 22 losses to 20 wins in only one year. However, the team still couldn’t do better than fourth place, even with the acquisition of pitcher, Rollie Fingers.
It was not until 1978 that hope was brought to the residents of San Diego by the team. Ozzie Smith was signed as shortstop and revolutionised the way the position was played on the field. The all-star game was hosted by the Padres that year and was won by the National League, due to the key player Steve Garvey, who was soon to become a prominent player for the Padres.
This season was to be a one-off though, and 1979 was another losing season costing the manager, Roger Craig, his job. Things continued in the same way into the new decade until their turning point in the 1984 season.
A One-off Success
The San Diego Padres won their first pennant in 1984, but the season had begun with a shock when Ray Kroc died from a heart attack. The team wore his initials on their uniforms for the whole of the season, and ownership of the franchise moved to his wife, Joan B. Kroc.
Things improved though, with them finishing 92-70 and winning the National League West championship that season, for the first time. Dick Williams was manager, and had managed to sign Garry Templeton, Craig Nettles, Steve Garney, Alan Wiggins and Tony Gwynn for the team.
In the championship they faced the Chicago Cubs who won the first two of their games. The final three games, however, were taken by the Padres at the Jack Murphy Stadium, which won them the National League pennant. In the World Series their opponents were the Detroit Tigers, who were a strong team. They stormed the Series, however, winning it four games to one.
A Return To Tough Times
After this win the Padres returned to their old form. In 1985 they came close to winning another pennant, but luck was not on their side as they collapsed at the end of the season. Although they did not win anything as a team, individual players still shone through and they managed to field seven of the All-Stars.
The following season their rookie catcher, Benito Santiago, took the title of NL Rookie of the Year after he hit in 35 consecutive games. His addition to the team did not manage to stop them from finishing last that season though.
In 1987 two extra players were added to the team: Roberto Alomar and Garry Templeton, who formed a double play combination. This pair helped the San Diego Padres finish only 89-73, a vast improvement on the previous season.
Towards the end of this decade friction began to rise within the team, as Tony Gwynn and Jack Clark began to have frequent slanging matches. Gwynn, a franchise player, won the battle and Clark was sold to the Red Sox where he finished his career.
In 1990 Joan Kroc suddenly decided that she wanted to sell the franchise, but did not want it to move away from San Diego. The team was sold to Tom Werner, a television producer, and instantly changes began to be made.
In 1992 the ‘four tops’ were the star Padres players: Fred McGriff, Tony Fernandez, Gary Sheffield and Tony Gwynn. This foursome did not last for long, however, with Fernandez, McGriff and Sheffield soon being traded to other teams across the country. Sheffield’s trade was particularly unpopular with fans, but it did result in Trevor Hoffman being introduced onto the team.
In 1994 the Padres finished last in the season once again, which resulted in even more trades. This time round Steve Finley and Ken Caminiti joined the team, and the following season Kevin Towers was promoted to general manager. The same year Werner sold the franchise to John Moores, a software tycoon.
The Makings of a New Winning Team
In 1994 the title of team president was given to Larry Lucchino, and Bruce Bochy, a former Padres catcher, was hired as manager. This combination seemed to be what the Padres needed as that season they won the NL West, after a race for the top with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
More signings and sellings were made by the new manager, including bringing Rickey Henderson, Fernando Valenzuela and Wally Joyner onto the team. Regulars Gwynn, Caminiti and Finley were also still on the team, and this created the San Diego Padres’ winning amalgamation of players, with them going on to win the 1996 season too. It was not enough, however, for them to win the NL Series, which was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals.
1997 was an off season, with the Padres suffering from a pitching slump. Henderson and Valenzuela were traded in 1998, but this made way for Kevin Brown and Greg Vaughn to be brought into the team. Bruce Bochy still managed the team excellently, making 1998 their best season to date. The Padres finished 98-64, and took the National League West division crown.
In the NLDS the Padres beat the Houston Astros, 3-1, and went on to win the National League East with an extraordinary record of 106-56. They were faced with the Atlanta Braves in the World Championship that year, and for the first time they triumphed, 4-1, largely due to the work of Kevin Brown and Steve Finley.
The World Series was played between the Padres and the ever-popular New York Yankees. The Yankees had one of their greatest teams of all time, which proved to be too much competition for the Padres, who were defeated 4-0 by the Yankees.
Another Return To Old Form
After this spectacular season the San Diego Padres’ form fell greatly, and they suffered from a five-season loss. All of these were whilst they were housed at the Qualcomm Stadium, so a move was made to Petco Park in 2003. This move also generated a new fan base for the team, which coincided with an improvement in the Padres’ form.
In 2004 they finished third in the NL West, with a decent 87-75 record and in 2005 they managed to win the Western Division Championship, with the lowest ever winning percentage, 82-80.
Unfortunately, the St. Louis Cardinals wiped the floor with them in just three consecutive games in the NLDS. To this day the Padres remain one of very few NL teams never to have won a World Series, the others being the Houston Astros, the Colorado Rockies, the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Another Title Out Of The Blue
2006 began as a bad season, with the Padres stuck at the bottom of the league. In only one month they managed to swing this back round, however, and were leading the division in May, 19-10. Trevor Hoffman also celebrated his own victory that year, as in September he made the 479th save of his career, making him the all-time saves leader of the National League.
The Padres managed to make the play-offs and went on to clinch the division title. The NL Division Series was opened by the Padres against the St. Louis Cardinals on their home turf, but they lost the title 6-2. 2006 was also the last season that Bruce Bochy would manage the team, when he left for their rivals the San Francisco Giants, and Bud Black was appointed as his replacement.
Ironically their first game of the 2007 season was against the Giants, which they successfully won, 7-0. Trevor Hoffman received another title this year when he became the first pitcher in the history of the NL to record 500 saves, with 498 of them made whilst he was a Padre. The season ended in a tie with the Colorado Rockies for the NL wild card, but unfortunately the Rockies clinched the title for themselves.
2008 Line Up
21 Heath Bell
41 Kevin Cameron
56 Ernesto Frieri
37 Michael Gardner
57 Justin Germano
52 Enrique Gonzalez
58 Carlos Guevara
45 Justin Hampson
34 Clay Hensley
51 Trevor Hoffman
49 Wilfredo Ledezma
53 Wilton Lopez
30 Greg Maddux
43 Cla Meredith
44 Jake Peavy
22 Mark Prior
54 Tim Stauffer
50 Joe Thatcher
59 Jared Wells
25 Randy Wolf
32 Chris Young
75 Mauro Zarate
28 Josh Bard
8 Michael Barrett
26 Colt Morton
7 Tony Clark
27 Callix Crabbe
23 Adrian Gonzalez
3 Khalil Greene
16 Chase Headley
10 Tadahito Iguchi
5 Kevin Kouzmanoff
9 Brian Myrow
13 Oscar Robles
2 Luis Rodriguez
11 Craig Stansberry
15 Jim Edmonds
24 Brian Giles
12 Scott Hairston
18 Paul McAnulty