It’s every baseball fan’s worst nightmare. The team owner threatens to sell the team to a group that’s intent on relocating. This was the situation facing the San Diego Padres in 1974, just five years after the franchise joined the National League.
The sell and subsequent relocation of the franchise to Washington D.C. appeared so certain that new uniforms were designed and baseball cards were printed with the name of the new city. However, at the last minute, then-owner C. Arnholt Smith changed his mind and decided to sell the team to Ray Kroc, co-founder of McDonald’s. Kroc had no intention of moving the team.
The San Diego Padres play in the National League’s West Division. The team has never won a World Series but they have won two National League Pennants and five division crowns. They are also one of four teams to have never had a pitcher toss a no-hitter and one of three teams to have never had a player hit for the cycle.
Still, Padres players have set several significant marks over the years. In 1974, Nate Colbert became the second player to hit five home runs in a double header (the other was Stan Musial). Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry won the Cy Young Award for the Padres in 1978, making him the first player to win the award in both leagues. In 1987, rookie catcher Benito Santiago hit safely in 34 consecutive games. That’s not only the longest hit streak for a rookie but it’s also a record for catchers. Slugger Ken Caminiti won 1996 MVP award, he’s the only player in franchise history to receive that honor.
Yet despite all the records, awards, and accomplishments the Padres players have achieved throughout the years, the franchise is most identified with the superb swing of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.
Gwynn joined the Padres in 1982 and spent his entire 20-year career with the club. While wearing a Padres uniform Gwynn established himself as one of the most consistent hitters the game has ever seen. His life time batting average is .338 and he amassed 3,141 hits. The 15 time All-Star led the National League in hitting eight times tying him for the NL record with Honus Wagner.
Gwynn was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, but he was not the first player to enter Cooperstown as a Padre, outfielder Dave Winfield holds that distinction (much to the chagrin of the New York Yankees). In 1973, Winfield was drafted by the Padres, and in a rare and stunning move he went straight to the majors. During his eight seasons in San Diego, Winfield made the All-Star game four times and won two Gold Gloves.
Future Hall of Famer, closer Trevor Hoffman, pitched for the Padres from 1993 to 2008. In 2006, the closer set the MLB record for career saves. In 2007, he reached the milestones of 500 career saves and 500 saves as a Padre. The following year, Hoffman saved Greg Maddux’s 350th win.
The Padres have had two homes during their history. The team first played in San Diego Stadium which was renamed to Jack Murphy Stadium which was then renamed to Qualcomm Stadium. In 2004, the team moved to Petco Park.
The team has also changed colors a few times. The first few incarnations revolved around oranges and browns, but in 2003 they went to navy blue and a muted brown color called sand.
In an effort to reach out to the military, the team occasionally wears camouflage uniforms, frequently employs a Fourth Inning Stretch featuring the Marine Hymn and sends game tapes to sailors in the U.S. Navy.