Friday, May 22, 2009

Memories of the 1984 San Diego Padres

The team’s best defensive left fielder played second base. A man made for first base played left field.

Those were just a couple of the spring training decisions by Manager Dick Williams that helped lead the San Diego Padres to their first National League championship in 1984.

Certainly, when people think back on that season, they recall Steve Garvey hitting the home run off Lee Smith to send the NL Championship Series vs. the Chicago Cubs to a deciding Game 5.

Then they will flash back to Tim Flannery’s ground ball going between the legs of Cubs first baseman Leon Durham, which propelled the Padres to a decisive 6-3 win over Rick Sutcliffe … who finished with a 16-1 record and the NL Cy Young that year.

Another “memory” is the Aug. 12 game at Atlanta, when Braves pitcher Pascual Perez started a war by hitting Alan Wiggins with the game’s first pitch. It led to 16 players being ejected; and ultimately, Williams receiving a 10-game suspension for having each of his pitchers throw at Perez.

(What most don’t remember is that the game was delayed 90 minutes at the start by heavy rain at a very humid Fulton County Stadium.)

A majority … especially those of us who were there … will remember Detroit “fans” tipping over police cars and breaking windows of nearby businesses after the Tigers beat the Padres in the fifth and deciding game of the World Series.

But the little things that few can recall are what really showed that the 1984 season was meant for the Padres.

It began with Wiggins, the team’s speedy leadoff batter and presumed left fielder, moving to second base. In turn, rookie Carmelo Martinez (a natural first baseman) was moved to left field because Steve Garvey was at first.

Williams also decided in spring training that closer Goose Gossage would start the ninth inning rather than come into the game with men on base; a unique concept in 1984.

As it turned out, all of the unusual decisions by Williams were charms. But Williams was no charmer; wearing out his welcome in San Diego when he walked out on the Padres the first day of spring training in 1986.

Memories. They never get old; especially when recalling the little things that made the 1984 season such a big thing for the Padres.

And you can re-live those moments when the Padres honor their 1984 NL champions before Saturday night’s game vs. the Cubbies at Petco Park.


dave said...

What a team! What a season! Thanks for the memories!

Louise said...

Really great memoriiies!!!I'm a huge Padres fan. They’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB, but they should be always competitive enough to keep pace with the others. Just read about them here: