San Diego Padres
- For the minor league franchise in the Pacific Coast League, see: San Diego Padres (PCL).
The Padres adopted their name from the Pacific Coast League team which arrived in San Diego in 1936. That minor league franchise won the PCL title in 1937, led by then-18-year-old San Diegan Ted Williams.
In 1969, San Diego joined the ranks of Major League Baseball as one of four new expansion teams (the other teams were 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 whose interests included banking, tuna fishing, hotels, real estate and an airline, and who previously owned the PCL Padres. Their original uniform colors included the color brown (a favorite color of Smith's, which also adorned the buildings of the bank he controlled), which would be retained through the 1990 baseball season, despite several changes in style. Despite initial excitement, the guidance of longtime baseball executive Buzzie Bavasi and a new playing field at San Diego (later San Diego Jack Murphy and now Qualcomm) Stadium, the team struggled, finishing in last place in each of its first six seasons. Their main star during this period was first baseman and slugger Nate Colbert.
In 1974, with the team on the brink of relocating to Washington, D.C. (stemming from the financial problems of Smith, particularly the collapse of his bank, then the largest bank failure in U. S. history), Ray A. Kroc (founder of McDonald's restaurants) purchased the Padres and kept them in San Diego. Although the Padres continued to struggle in the 1970's, they did feature star outfielder Dave Winfield, who came to the Padres in 1973 from the University of Minnesota without having played a single game in the minor leagues and was also drafted by the National Football League and the National Basketball Association and starred for the Padres through the 1980 season (after which he signed a multi-million dollar contract with the New York Yankees), and pitcher Randy Jones, who won the National League Cy Young Award in 1976 after a 20-game winning season. Kroc also broadened the franchise's involvement in civic and community affairs. San Diego Stadium hosted the 1978 All-Star Game. The 1978 season was the first in which the Padres posted a record above .500.
Ray Kroc died just before he could see his team win its first National League pennant (after dramatically rallying from a 2-0 deficit against the Chicago Cubs—of whom Windy City native Kroc was a former long-time fan—in the NLCS) in 1984 (the Padres lost the 1984 World Series to the Detroit Tigers in five games). His wife, Joan, an organist and later a noted philanthropist who funded several charitable organizations and donated to disaster relief, assumed control of the team until selling it in 1990 to a syndicate headed by television producer Tom Werner, whose credits included the sitcom Roseanne. The team's history was stormy during this period, although San Diego hosted the 1992 All-Star Game, for which Ted Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch. In a series of moves designed to reduce payroll but which instead drew media and fan criticism, several popular players were released or traded, the only bright spot being the arrival of ace closer Trevor Hoffman.
The San Diego Chicken began performing for the team in 1974. Currently, their team mascot is the Swinging Friar, a whimsical takeoff on Father Junipero Serra, the Franciscan priest who founded the chain of twenty-one original California missions in the late 18th century, starting with Mission San Diego Alcala (a very short distance from Quallcomm Stadium) on July 16, 1769.
Despite featuring such notable players as Randy Jones, Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Tony Gwynn, and Trevor Hoffman, the Padres have had limited success, going to the playoffs only four times during their Major League tenure. The team marked its 36th year on a new playing field, PETCO Park, in 2004.
In 1984, the Padres won the National League West championship. They were managed by Dick Williams and featured veterans Steve Garvey, Graig Nettles and Rich Gossage, as well as former San Diego State University baseball and basketball star Tony Gwynn, who captured his first of what would be eight National League batting championships (he would also win in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 and shares the National League record with Honus Wagner) that year. 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. After spotting the NL East champion Chicago Cubs, who were making their first post-season appearance since 1945 and featured NL Most Valuable Player Ryne Sandberg, two games at Wrigley Field, the Padres swept three games at then San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium to win the 1984 National League pennant. However they lost the 1984 World Series, 4 games to 1, to the Detroit Tigers, who were managed by Sparky Anderson and featured shortstop and native San Diegan Alan Trammell and outfielder Kirk Gibson.
In 1996, under new owner John Moores (a software tycoon who purchased controlling ownership in the team in 1994 from Tom Werner, who subsequently formed a syndicate that purchased the Boston Red Sox) and team president Larry Lucchino, and with a team that was managed by former Padre catcher Bruce Bochy (who was a member of the 1984 championship squad) and 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 won the National League West championship in an exciting race, sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in the final series of the regular season. They had led the NL West early in the season only to falter June, but came back in July and battled the Dodgers the rest of the way. However, they themselves 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 bright light was Tony Gwynn's eighth and last National League batting championship, 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, Henderson and Valenzuela were gone, but newly acquired (from the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins) pitcher Kevin Brown had a sensational year (his only one with the Padres) and outfielder/slugger Greg Vaughn hit 50 home runs (overlooked in that season of the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa race), and, managed by Bochy and aided by Gwynn, Caminiti, Joyner, Finley and premier closer Trevor Hoffman, the Padres had their best year in history, rampaging to the NL West division crown and defeating the Houston Astros in the NLDS, 3 games to 1, and outlasting the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, 4 games to 2. However, in the World Series they were swept by the New York Yankees 4 games to 0. The Yankees, managed by Joe Torre and featuring shortstop Derek Jeter, first baseman Paul O'Neill and closer Mariano Rivera in what has been considered one of the greatest teams of all time, capped a 114-win regular season by defeating the Texas Rangers, the Cleveland Indians and the Padres to win their 24th Fall Classic and a total of 125 games, still a record. The big bright spot for the Padres was a home run by Tony Gwynn, not normally a power hitter, in Game 1 that hit the facing of the right-field upper deck at Yankee Stadium and put the Padres ahead briefly, 5-2.
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. There had been some fear 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 and ensured that would not happen. In the NLDS, the reigning National League champion St. Louis Cardinals, who finished the season with the majors' best record, dispatched the Padres in 3 straight. Thus the Padres finished the season with an overall regular-and-post-season record of 82-83, the first post-season qualifier in a normal-length season to lose more games than it won overall. To put this in some perspective, the World Champion New York Yankees of 1998 went a major league record 125-50 overall, coincidentally capping their season with a sweep of the Padres. (In the split season caused by the players' strike in 1981, the Kansas City Royals won the American League West in the second half, but had an overall regular season record of 50-53, and were swept in the Division Series by the Oakland Athletics, resulting in a total record of 50-56. )
- No Padre pitcher has tossed a no-hit game (although several have come close). In one near-miss, on July 22, 1970, righthander Clay Kirby finished the eighth inning only three outs shy of a no-hitter. But because the Padres were trailing in the game 1-0, manager Preston Gomez sent Cito Gaston up to pinch hit for Kirby with two out in the bottom of the eighth (this is usually considered standard baseball strategy). Gaston struck out. Gomez defended his decision by saying that his job was to win games, but was openly criticized by Bavasi, who lamented not having a no-hit pitcher as a drawing card for the team.
- The Padres have been no-hit several times, most notably on June 20, 1970, by the Pittsburgh Pirates' Dock Ellis, who later claimed that he pitched the game while under the influence of the hallucinogenic drug LSD, a dose of which he ingested before drawing this pitching assignment.
- In his first home game as new Padre owner in 1974, Ray Kroc grabbed the public address system microphone and apologized to fans for the poor performance of the team, saying "I've never seen such stupid ballplaying in my life." At the same time, a streaker raced across the field, eluding security personnel. Kroc shouted "Throw him in jail!" Ironically, 1974 would be the first season that the Padres would not finish in the National League West cellar (finishing fifth), and brought the promise of an owner who would really step up to the plate.
- Between games of a doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds on July 25, 1990, Roseanne series star Roseanne Arnold delivered a screeching rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, immediately after which she grabbed her crotch and spat on the ground. She was intending to parody those actions of ballplayers which are often caught on camera, but she picked the wrong time to do it, as it appeared to many that she was commenting on the flag and/or the anthem. Had it not been for those gestures, her performance likely would have been written off as simply a poor choice of singer on the ball club's part, and probably soon forgotten. As it was, her little act drew boos and catcalls from fans and then criticism from players (most notably Tony Gwynn) and even outside quarters, including then-President George Herbert Walker Bush, a former Yale University first baseman and the father of then-Texas Rangers owner and current President George Walker Bush.
- In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Tony Gwynn captured his fifth National League batting championship with a .394 batting average, the highest major league batting average since native San Diegan and former PCL Padres star Ted Williams (the last player to date to hit over .400 in a regular season) hit .406 in 1941 while playing for the Boston Red Sox. In an amusing coincidence, the uniform number 19, which was worn by Gwynn throughout his Padre career, was also worn by Williams during his tenure with the PCL Padres.
- On August 6, 1999, in a game against the then Montreal Expos at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, Tony Gwynn collected his 3,000th major league base hit, a single. He stroked 3 base hits in that game. Six years earlier on that same date, in a game at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, Gwynn collected his 2,000th major league base hit.
- In 2001, Dave Winfield became the first player to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a Padre.
- On October 7, 2001, in a post-game ceremony at Qualcomm Stadium, Tony Gwynn bade an emotional farewell to the team which had been his only major-league home. He stroked his final major-league hit, a double, in the previous game. He is presently head coach of the San Diego State University Aztecs, his alma mater. He is eligible for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. 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. Earlier that year, Henderson eclipsed Babe Ruth's record for most career bases on balls and Ty Cobb's record for most career runs scored.
- On February 15, 2002, young outfielder, and one of the Padres most popular and promising athletes, Mike Darr is killed in an auto accident in Phoenix, Arizona. The tragic death would put a cloud over the Padres coming spring training.
- Jerry Coleman, former second baseman for the New York Yankees in the 1950's, has been the Padres' play-by-play announcer since 1972, except in one year 1980 in which Coleman managed the team. He also worked for the Yankees (alongside legendary sportscaster Mel Allen) and the California Angels. Coleman is famous for his phrases "Oh Doctor!" and "Hang a star on that one!". In 2005, Coleman reduced his broadcast role, allowing longtime partner Ted Leitner to be the Padres' primary announcer. Coleman is also the 2005 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, giving him entry into the broadcaster's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Leitner, who often pokes fun at his marital record (he has been divorced four times), has also done television sports coverage and has hosted a radio talk show in the San Diego area, dealing with topics other than just sports. His show recently aroused controversy when one of his guests, singer and political activist Harry Belafonte (no stranger to controversy himself--in a 1968 television special, British singer Petula Clark innocently touched his arm as the pair were on the air singing a duet to a song with an antiwar theme, a daring move for that era), attacked fellow African-Americans Colin Powell (then Secretary of State and formerly United States Army general) and Condoleezza Rice (then National Security advisor and currently Secretary of State) for being a part of the Administration of President George Walker Bush, referring to them as "house slaves". (Interestingly, Belafonte's opening line of "Day-O!" from his hit "Banana Boat Song" is a rallying call in many major league parks where recorded music has supplanted organ music.)
- The Padres have never had a player hit for the cycle.
- Notable fans of the Padres have included comedian and film actor Jerry Lewis, singers Patti Page and Frankie Laine, former astronaut Wally Schirra, author and syndicated columnist George Will, and former San Diego mayor and California governor Pete Wilson, all of whom have maintained residences in the San Diego area.
- Founded: 1969 (National League expansion)
- Uniform colors: Navy blue, "sand" (khaki), and white
- Logo design: Gold "SAN DIEGO" in small capitals and large, stylized white "Padres" superimposed over an outline of home plate; blue background with wave design in bottom half of home plate.
Minor league affiliations
- AAA: Portland Beavers, Pacific Coast League
- AA: Mobile BayBears, Southern League
- Advanced A: Lake Elsinore Storm, California League
- A: Fort Wayne Wizards, Midwest League
- Short A: Eugene Emeralds, Northwest League
- Rookie: AZL Padres, Arizona League
- Rookie: VSL Padres, Venezuelan Summer League
- Padres award winners and league leaders
- Padres statistical records and milestone achievements
- Padres players of note
- Padres broadcasters and media
- Padres managers and ownership