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 executive Buzzie Bavasi and 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 2007) the Padres' career leader in home runs.
Although the Padres continued to struggle after Colbert's departure via trade to the Detroit Tigers in 1974, 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. Winfield was also drafted by the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association.
Winfield took over where Colbert left off, starring in the Padres outfield from 1973 until 1980, when he joined the New York Yankees. In seven seasons, Winfield played in 1,117 games for San Diego and collected 1,134 hits, 154 home runs and drove in 626 runs. But most importantly, he helped the team out of the National League West basement for the first time in 1975, under the guidance of manager John McNamara, who took over the club at the start of the 1974 season.
Winfield's emergence as a legitimate star coincided with the turnaround of a promising young left-handed pitcher named Randy Jones, who had suffered through 22 losses in 1974. Jones became the first San Diego pitcher to win 20 games in 1975, going 20-12 in 37 outings as the Padres finished in fourth place with a 71-91 record, 37 games behind the Cincinnati Reds.
Jones won 22 games in 1976, winning the Cy Young Award in the process, another franchise first. The club set a new high with 73 wins, but fell to fifth place.
Jones slipped to 6-12 in 1977, and not even the acquisition of Rollie Fingers could help the Padres escape the second division. Only Winfield and fellow outfielder George Hendrick cracked the 20-homer barrier, and the pitching staff was filled with a group of unknowns and youngsters, few of whom would enjoy much success at the major league level.
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 didn't 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.
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 pitching staff in 1984 featured Eric Show (15-9), Ed Whitson (14-8), Mark Thurmond (14-8), Tim Lollar (11-13), and Rich "Goose" Gossage as their closer (10-6, 2.90 ERA and 25 saves).
In the 1984 NLCS, the Padres faced 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. The Cubs would win the first two games at Wrigley Field, and were less than two innings away from a series sweep when their luck changed. The Padres swept the final 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.
In the 1984 World Series, the Padres faced the powerful Detroit Tigers, who steamrolled through the regular season with 104 victories (and had started out with a 35-5 record, the best ever through the first 40 games). The Tigers were managed by Sparky Anderson and featured shortstop and native San Diegan Alan Trammell and outfielder Kirk Gibson, along with Lance Parrish and DH Darrell Evans. The pitching staff was bolstered by ace Jack Morris (19-11, 3.60 ERA), Dan Petry (18-8), Milt Wilcox (17-8), and closer Willie Hernandez (9-3, 1.92 ERA with 32 saves). Jack Morris would win games 1 and 4 and the Tigers would go on to win the Series 4-games-to-1.
In 1987, rookie catcher Benito Santiago hit in 34 straight games, earning him the NL Rookie of the Year Award. However, the Padres 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 Padres 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, a nod to the vintage 1940's PCL franchise colors. In 1992, the Padres lineup featured the "Four Tops": Gary Sheffield, Fred McGriff, Tony Fernández, 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. 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. 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.
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.
The Padres went on to defeat the Houston Astros in the 1998 NLDS, 3 games to 1, behind solid pitching by Brown and Hoffman, and home runs by Greg Vaughn, Wally Joyner and Jim Leyritz (who homered in 3 of the 4 games).
In the 1998 NLCS, the Padres faced the Atlanta Braves, who had won the National League East with an astonishing 106-56 record. The offense was paced by talent such as Andres Galarraga, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Javy López. Their pitching staff had the perennial big-3 of Greg Maddux (18-9, 2.22 ERA), Tom Glavine (20-6, 2.47 ERA), and John Smoltz (17-3, 2.90 ERA), as well as Kevin Millwood (17-8, 4.08 ERA) and Denny Neagle (16-11, 3.55 ERA). However, it was the Padres that would prevail, 4 games to 2, with ace Kevin Brown pitching a complete game shutout in game 2 (winning 3-0). Steve Finley caught a pop fly for the final out, as the Padres clinched the series.
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 1950's, but they had four players with 24+ and eight with 17+. Yankee pitching had been paced by David Cone (20–7, 3.55), Andy Pettitte (16–11, 4.24), David Wells (18–4, 3.49), Hideki Irabu (13–9, 4.06) and Orlando Hernández (12–4, 3.13). Mariano Rivera, their closer, was excellent once again (3–0, 1.91 ERA with 36 saves).
The Yankees swept the Padres 4 games to 0. 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, 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. But the Yankees would score 7 runs in the 7th inning en route to a 9-6 victory.
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.
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 (they were tied with the Dodgers for the division title, but because of winning the season series against them, the division title went to them and the wild card went to the Dodgers).
Only 53 teams in the modern era have posted sub-.500 records in April and survived to make the postseason. The San Diego Padres, achieved the feat in both 2005 and 2006.
The Padres opened the 2006 National League Division Series at home against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, October 3, 2006. After losing the first two games at home (5-1 and 2-0 respectively), they won game 3 at Busch Stadium 3–1, but were eliminated with a 6–2 loss in Game 4, when the Cardinals, who trailed 2–0 before their first at-bat, scored six unanswered runs (two in the first, and four in the sixth) for the win.
Overall the Padres have a post-season record of 12–22; they have lost 10 of their last 11 games since winning the National League pennant in 1998.
One key offseason trade between the San Diego Padres' General Manager, Kevin Towers, and the Texas Rangers' General Manager, Jon Daniels, would prove to have a dramatic impact on their 2006 season. The Padres dealt starting pitcher Adam Eaton, middle reliever Akinori Otsuka, and minor-league catcher Billy Killian in exchange for starting pitcher Chris Young (a star at Princeton University), left fielder Terrmel Sledge, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez would take over the everyday duties at first base, batting .304 with a club-leading 24 home runs and 82 RBI in his first year as a full-time starter. Sledge would hit .229 in limited major league action. Chris Young proved to be the real story, however, as he would go 11-5 with a 3.46 ERA (6th best in the National League) and allowed just 6.72 hits per 9 innings pitched - best in the majors.
2006 also ended up being the last year of Bruce Bochy's tenure as the manager of the Padres, taking the managerial position for their divisional rivals, the San Francisco Giants. He was replaced by Bud Black, a San Diego State University alumni and former pitching coach of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Padres' 2007 season began April 3 in an away game against the San Francisco Giants, winning it 7-0 in front of a capacity crowd of 42,773 at AT&T Park, defeating $126 million staff-ace Barry Zito in his Giants debut. The Padres bullpen has continued to be the team's strength as in recent years, opening the season with 28 1/3 scoreless innings, a Major League record to start a season. At the start of the season the Padres starting rotation order was as follows: Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Clay Hensley (injured, replaced by Justin Germano), Greg Maddux, David Wells.
On June 4, 2007, Jake Peavy was named NL Pitcher of the Month after going 4-0 with a 0.79 ERA in May. The next day, Trevor Hoffman was named the “DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award” for May 2007. The award recognizes the most outstanding relief pitcher during each month of the regular season.
The Padres ended the regular season in an 89-73 tie for the NL wild card with the Colorado Rockies. In a cruel piece of irony, on September 29, 2007, the Padres were within one out and one strike of clinching the National League Wild Card berth, but Tony Gwynn, Jr., son of the longtime Padres legend, tripled against Hoffman to tie the game. The Padres went on to lose that game, and the one that followed, even though the Milwaukee Brewers had been eliminated from the pennant race and had nothing left to play for. The Padres then met the Rockies on October 1, 2007 in Denver for a one-game playoff to decide the wild card winner. Despite having Jake Peavy start the game and bringing in Trevor Hoffman in the bottom of the 13th inning to try to hold an 8-6 lead, the Padres' season ended when the Rockies rallied to win 9-8. It ended on a controversial call on a sacrifice fly where many questioned whether Matt Holliday ever touched home plate, leaving Padre fans saying "Holliday never touched home!"
To many Padres fans, however, the last call at the plate seemed irrelevant. Between Hoffman's two blown saves in the last three games, the Rockies' incredible surge at the end of the season and the season-long slump by the Padres' offense, a Padres postseason appearance just wasn't meant to be.
On November 15, Jake Peavy won the National League Cy Young Award by unanimous ballot. He was the fourth Padre to capture the pitching award.
The Padres entered the 2007-08 offseason with a number of questions, including the ability of Trevor Hoffman to close games past his 40th birthday, the ongoing inability to hold runners on base (the Padres' caught-stealing ratio in 2007 was one of the worst in baseball history), two holes in the back of the starting rotation, and the possible departure of Mike Cameron to free agency. The two holes in the rotation were filled by former Dodger Randy Wolf and Mark Prior and the club dealt for Jim Edmonds to replace Cameron. Additionally, Milton Bradley was signed by the Texas Rangers.
The Padres signed Mark Prior to a one-year deal in the off-season. Prior, a University of San Diego HS graduate (now Cathedral HS), joins a team that consists of players that were also local prep stars, Brian Giles (Granite Hills HS), Adrian Gonzalez (Eastlake HS), and Oscar Robles (Montgomery HS). Recent Padres teams had also included Dave Roberts (Rancho Buena Vista HS), David Wells (Point Loma HS), and Marcus Giles (Granite Hills HS).
2007 All-Star Chris Young pitched in the second game of the season, a 2–1 win, and Trevor Hoffman, the game's all-time saves leader, wrapped up the ninth for the save. The Los Angeles Dodgers came into town and took two of three. 2007 Cy Young winner Jake Peavy picked up the only win during the Dodgers' series. At the end of the opening homestand, the Padres were 3–3.
The Padres traveled to San Francisco, hoping to fatten up on former manager Bruce Bochy's Giants, but the now-Bondsless bay dwellers took two of three.In Los Angeles, the Padres won two of three, pushing their record back to .500.
On April 17, 2008 during the series against the Colorado Rockies at PETCO Park, the Padres played the longest game in team history, in terms of innings (22), losing 2–1. The game was the second longest in team history, in terms of time, played in 6 hours, 16 minutes.Following that game, which sapped the team's bullpen strength, the Padres stumbled, dropping games at home, where they struggled to score runs, and on the road, where they committed uncharacteristic errors and failed to hold leads.Returning home after a humbling three-game sweep in Atlanta in early May, the Padres cut Jim Edmonds, the Cardinals castoff who had been brought in after the Padres failed to sign Mike Cameron to an new deal in the offseason.With former Indian Jody Gerut now in center, the Padres won the three-game weekend home series with the Rockies and motored to Chicago with the hopes of winning three of four to get the season back on track.Instead, the Cubs, with Jim Edmonds in center, won three of four and booted the Padres from the Windy City into an interleague series with the Mariners, their Peoria, Ariz. spring training neighbors.The Mariners used speed ---- and a late inning burst of power from Adrian Beltre in one game ---- to win the series and shove the Padres deeper into their early-season hole.After sweeping the New York Mets in a four game series that ended on June 8, the Padres climbed to 7 games back of first place Arizona. The sweep put the Mets 7 and a half games behind the first place Philadelphia Phillies, sending the Padres and the Mets, expansion teams in the 1960s, in different directions.The Padres won two of three games in a series against the Dodgers at Petco Park. There was talk in San Diego that the Padres had a serious chance to get back in the race in a week NL West.A road trip sent the Padres to play the Indians in Cleveland, where they lost two of the three games. During their final trip to Yankee Stadium, the site of Tony Gwynn's upperdeck World Series blast, the Padres were swept by the Yankees.
They returned to Petco and dropped two of three to the Tigers. They were then swept by the Twins and Mariners. Returning to National League competition didn't help much, as Pads lost two of three in Colorado to the Rockies. Powered by former Diamondbacks outfielder Scott Hairston, the Padres won two of three in Arizona. The team couldn't sustain the momentum however and they lost two of three to the Marlins at Petco Park. In the last series before the All-Star break, the Padres lost two of three to the Braves. Adrian Gonzalez represented the Padres at the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, going 1-3 with an RBI. Gonzalez made a nice scoop on a throw from catcher Russell Martin during a tense moment late in the game but he struck out with a chance to drive in the go-ahead run late in the game. According to media reports, Gonzalez was asked during an All-Star game media session what it would take for the Padres to make the playoffs. He said 30 wins. When the interviewer asked if he thought that was possible, Gonzalez glared at the interviewer and didn't answer the question.
On July 17, the Padres traded former San Diego State great Tony Clark to the Diamondbacks for minor league pitcher Evan Scribner. Following the All-Star break, the Padres would continue to struggle, getting swept in a four game series in St. Louis and losing two of three in Cincinnati. A trip to Pittsburgh proved to be the tonic the team needed. The Padres won three of four in the Steel City and during the series the Pirates traded former Padre underachiever Xavier Nady to the Yankees for prospects. Back home, the Padres won the first game of the series against the division leading Diamondbacks. The win gave Greg Maddux 351 career wins and he tipped his hat to the crowd when he left with a lead. Late in August, the team parted ways with future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux by trading him just up Interstate 5 to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As this disasterous season started to come to a close, questions about the coaching staff started swirling like crazy. In mid-September, Hitting Coach Wally Joyner resigned due to the teams lackluster offense and a difference in philosophy with upper management (most notably, CEO Sandy Alderson). It seems that Joyner beat the Padres to the punch, as he was likely to be replaced at the end of the season. The team finished off a 63–99 season on September 28 with a 10–6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates finishing 5th in the NL West, 21 games behind the division leader Los Angeles Dodgers.
On September 29, the team renewed the contracts of Manager Bud Black, Pitching Coach Darren Balsley, Bullpen Coach Darrell Akerfelds, 3rd Base Coach Glenn Hoffman (brother of closer Trevor Hoffman) and 1st Base Coach Rick Renteria. Only Bench Coach Craig Colbert was not renewed and because of Wally Joyner's earlier resignation the team had no Hiiting Coach to bring back.
During the 1980s (and continuing through 1994), the Padres held Spring Training in Yuma, Arizona. Due to the short driving distance and direct highway route (170 miles, all on Interstate 8), Yuma was very popular with Padres fans, and many fans would travel by car from San Diego for Spring Training games. The move from Yuma to Peoria (announced during the 1994 baseball strike) was very controversial, but was defended by the team as a reflection on the low quality of facilities in Yuma and the long travel necessary to play against other Arizona-based Spring Training teams (whose sites are all in the Phoenix and Tucson areas, both rather far from Yuma).
In 1985, the Padres switched to using a script-like logo in which Padres was written sloped up. That would later become a script logo for the Padres.
In 1989, the Padres took the scripted Padres logo that was used from 1985-1988 and put it in a tan ring that read "San Diego Baseball Club" with a striped center. In 1991, the logo was changed to a silver ring with the Padres script changed from brown to blue. The logo only lasted one year, as the Padres changed their logo for the third time in three years, again by switching colors of the ring. The logo became a white ring with fewer stripes in the center and a darker blue Padres script with orange shadows. In 1992, the team's colors were also changed, to a combination of orange and navy blue.
The logo was completely changed when the team changed stadiums between the 2003 and 2004 seasons, as the logo now looks like home plate at a baseball field with San Diego written in gold font at the top right corner and the Padres new script written completely across the center. Waves finish the bottom of the plate. Navy remains but a sandy beige replaces orange as a secondary color. The team's colors were also changed, to navy blue and sand brown.
In 2008 during every Sunday home game, the Padres wear a camouflage uniform in honor of the military. They also wear these uniforms on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
Gwynn, Winfield, Fingers, Gossage, Randy Jones, and Graig Nettles (3B, 1984-1987) are also members of the San Diego Hall of Champions, which is open to athletes native to the San Diego area (such as Gwynn and Nettles) as well as to those who played for San Diego teams.
These numbers are displayed as freestanding numbers mounted in numerical order across the top of the batter's eye wall in center field at PETCO Park. The Padres also have a star on the wall in honor of broadcaster Jerry Coleman, for his trademark line "You can hang a star on that one!" Along with the star they have RAK for former owner Ray Kroc. (The star and RAK are in gold paint on the front of the navy blue press boxes behind home plate on the second deck, accompanied by the relevant names in white.)
During the 2004 season, only four of the five numbers were displayed (Tony Gwynn's #19 was not yet officially retired until late in the season, and was added over the following winter.)
|National League Champions|
| Preceded by:|
|1998|| Succeeded by:|
| Preceded by:|
|1984|| Succeeded by:|
St. Louis Cardinals
|National League Western Division Champions|
| Preceded by:|
Los Angeles Dodgers
|2005 & 2006|| Succeeded by:|
| Preceded by:|
San Francisco Giants
|1998|| Succeeded by:|
| Preceded by:|
Los Angeles Dodgers
|1996|| Succeeded by:|
San Francisco Giants
| Preceded by:|
Los Angeles Dodgers
|1984|| Succeeded by:|
Los Angeles Dodgers
Padres' games are shown mostly on 4SD, a cable-only network controlled by Cox Communications. Matt Vasgersian is the play-by-play announcer and Mark Grant is the color commentator. In 2006, the booth played host to a controversial guest appearance by Rick Sutcliffe, who had been Davis' predecessor before joining ESPN. Sutcliffe appeared to be drunk and discussed topics other than baseball, even when Vasgersian tried to redirect the subject. After the appearance, ESPN suspended Sutcliffe for a week.
Spanish language telecasts of Sunday games are seen XHAS-TV channel 33. Until September 2007, Friday and Saturday Spanish games were seen on KBOP-CA channel 43, until that station changed to an all-infomercial format. This makes XHAS the only over-the-air-television station carrying Padres baseball. English-language Padres over-the-air broadcasts aired over the years on XETV, KUSI, KFMB-TV and KSWB-TV.