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, 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 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, the Pads were about to sell the ballclub to Joseph Danzansky. He would move the ballclub to Washington, D.C.. Many were so enthusiastic about the move that new uniforms and baseball cards featuring Washington were manufactured. But C. Arnholt Smith would sell the ballclub to McDonald's' founder Ray Kroc who kept the team in San Diego.
Although the Padres continued to struggle in the 1970s, 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 and saw future Hall-of-famer Ozzie Smith making his debut. Smith would be traded to the St. Louis Cardinals after the 1981 season.
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.
1984-The Very First Pennant
In 1984, the Padres won the National League West championship. They were managed by Dick Williams and featured veterans Steve Garvey, Garry Templeton, 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 and Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe, two games at Wrigley Field, the Padres swept three games at then San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium (the highlight arguably being Steve Garvey's dramatic, game winning home run off of Lee Smith in Game 4) to win the 1984 National League pennant. However they lost the 1984 World Series, 4 games to 1, to the powerful Detroit Tigers (who steamrolled through the regular season with 104 victories), who were managed by Sparky Anderson and featured shortstop and native San Diegan Alan Trammell and outfielder Kirk Gibson.
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). In 1987, rookie catcher Benito Santiago would hit in 34 straight games, earning him the NL Rookie of the Year Award. However, the Pads finished dead last in 1987. The next season, rookie second baseman Roberto Alomar would make his debut, forming a double play combination with veteran shortstop Garry Templeton. In 1989, the Pads finished 89-73 thanks to Cy Young Award-winning closer Mark Davis. Between 1989 and 1990, friction dominated the Padres' clubhouse as Tony Gwynn had constant shouting matches with slugger Jack Clark. But as the franchise player, Gwynn prevailed as Clark finished his career with the Red Sox. 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. After the ownership change, the old brown that remained in Padres uniforms since their inception were supplanted by navy blue. In 1992, the Padres lineup featured the "Four Tops": Gary Sheffield, Fred McGriff, Tony Fernandez, and Tony Gwynn. However, Fernandez would go to the New York Mets, McGriff went to the division-winning Atlanta Braves, and Sheffield would go to the expansion Florida Marlins. It was that Sheffield deal that brought in then-unknown pitcher Trevor Hoffman. 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. After that season, the Padres made a mega-trade with Houston reeling in Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, and others.
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 managed by former Padres catcher Bruce Bochy (a member of the 1984 championship squad), 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 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.
1998:The Season that Saved Baseball in San Diego
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, outfielder 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 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.
After five straight losing seasons in Qualcomm Stadium, the Padres moved to PETCO Park in 2004. The Pads finally began to win again. With a new look and the ocean air, the Pads finished the 2004 season with an 87-75 record, good enough for 3rd in the NL West.
2005:The Worst Team Ever to make the playoffs?
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 stronger Eastern Division finished with better records than San Diego but failed to qualify for the play-offs, 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 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-post-season record of 82-83, the first post-season qualifier in a normal-length season to lose more games than it won overall. The Padres remain one of five National League teams (the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos, and the Milwaukee Brewers) to have never won a World Series.
The 2005 Padres featured bright spots, however, including ace pitcher Jake Peavy, the NL strikeout leader, and closer Trevor Hoffman, who saved his 400th.
2006...Another Post-Season Team?
The Padres started April 2006 with a 9-15 record and were stuck in the cellar of the NL West. They have finished May 19-10 and have moved into first place in the NL West. This is interesting because last year, they went 22-6 in May. They are currently tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for second in the NL west with a record of 61-61, behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a record of 64-58. The Padres are also tied for second in the Wild Card race, behind the Cincinnati Reds, who have a record of 62-60. Closer pitcher Trevor Hoffman, elected to the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, PA, threw one inning and got a loss. As of August 18th, Hoffman has 467 saves (11 away from tying leader Lee Smith who has 478).
Record Per Season
Pages in category "San Diego Padres History"
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