20 memorable moments in 20 years of Petco Park

The Padres are set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of Petco Park in 2024. It has housed many memorable baseball moments in its first two decades.

The Padres opened Petco Park in April 2004. 2024 marks the 20th anniversary of the park. The team plans on commemorating the occasion with a sleeve patch on the home uniforms.

A lot has happened in those 20 years. For the Padres, some are good; some are not so good. Baseball, in general, has had some epic moments within the confines of 100 Park Blvd.

To celebrate 20 years of the beautiful venue that is Petco Park, let’s dive into the top 20 most memorable (baseball) moments in the park’s first two decades.

 

20. Jake Peavy outduels Roger Clemens (8/23/2005)

Any time two aces take the mound, it’s a treat for anyone watching. At this point, Peavy was still a rising star. This was his third full season, and he was fresh off his first All-Star selection. Clemens, of course, is one of the best pitchers of all time.

In 2005, Clemens was in his age-42 season but was coming off of his seventh Cy Young Award-winning season the year prior. He was one of the biggest stars of the sport.

On this night at Petco Park, these two aces locked horns in a pitcher’s duel for the ages. Neither hurler relinquished the ball to a single reliever in their respective bullpens. They each pitched complete games (with Clemens pitching eight innings in the loss). This feat gets more and more rare each passing year.

Peavy allowed just four sporadic hits and struck out six. He escaped a one-out, bases loaded jam in the top of the sixth without a run.

Clemens pitched very well in his own right. The Friars scratched across a run in the bottom of the first. Dave Roberts tripled to lead off and was driven home by a single by Brian Giles.

The Padres wouldn’t have another baserunner until the seventh inning. Giles got him again, this time for a solo homer. Clemens struck out seven amid the two runs and five hits allowed. Pitching eight innings in the loss credited him with a complete game. That would end up being the final complete game of his illustrious career.

It was a memorable night for all in attendance, with the Padres coming out on top 2-0.

 

19. Tony Gwynn statue reveal (7/21/2007)

This is probably higher on this list, but it had to be No. 19, right? Does Petco Park get built without the influence and accolades of Tony Gwynn? It’s hard to say. They don’t call him Mr. Padre for nothing.

Just a week before his official enshrinement into Cooperstown, Gwynn took it all in at Petco Park as his statue, the first at Petco Park, was unveiled in Gallagher Square.

While Gwynn never got to play at Petco Park, his mark is left all over the ballpark.

Being a 15-time All-Star, eight-time batting title winner, seven-time Silver Slugger, and five-time Gold Glove winner will leave a gigantic impression.

There will never be another one like Gwynn. This was one of the final chapters of celebrating Gwynn during his life.

 

18. An Opening Day 17-run barrage (4/12/2010)

After a long road trip to start the 2010 season, the Padres had their home opener against the Atlanta Braves. It ended up being one of the most memorable openers in Padres history. With the Padres leading by a slim 1-0 margin into the fourth, the floodgates opened.

Tony Gwynn Jr. worked a bases-loaded walk with no one out to score the first run. Starting pitcher Kevin Correia even got in on the action with a two-run single. Adrian Gonzalez and Kyle Blanks hit back-to-back doubles. Will Venable punctuated the onslaught with a two-run homer. By the time the fourth inning ended, they had scored ten runs in the frame and led 11-0. Padres fans were in a good mood the rest of the game.

Blanks added a three-run homer in the fifth to push the lead to 14-0.

In the bottom of the seventh, Nick Hundley singled home the 15th run. Gwynn Jr. put the final stamp on the blowout with a two-run double.

Blanks finished with five RBI and three hits. David Eckstein and Venable also collected three hits.

That gave the Padres a home-opener record of 17 runs as they beat the Braves 17-2.

 

17. Greg Maddux earns win No. 350 (5/10/2008)

Will a pitcher ever win 300 games again? For Padres fans, they got to witness history to a higher degree during Hall of Famer Greg Maddux’s brief tenure with the team late in his career. Nine pitchers in the history of baseball have won 350 decisions. Just three have done it since World War II- Warren Spahn, Roger Clemens, and Greg Maddux.

Facing the Rockies in search of that magic number, Maddux tossed six innings without allowing an earned run. In typical Maddux fashion, he did it with zero walks and 68 pitches.

Of course, to get a win, he needed some run support. Adrian Gonzalez did it all on one swing, with a three-run homer in the fourth. That’s all Maddux and the bullpen needed.

Nursing a 3-1 lead, the Padres turned to Cla Meredith, Heath Bell, and Trevor Hoffman out of the bullpen, who successfully closed the door with just one run allowed combined. Maddux earned his 350th win. He eventually would win five more before his career would end, becoming a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2014.

 

16. 22-inning marathon (4/17/2008)

There are extra-inning baseball games, and then there are extra-inning baseball games. The Padres and Rockies were locked in what seemed to be an eternal struggle for the fate of the universe itself.

Not only did it go to a “21st inning stretch,” but it was completely scoreless until the 14th inning. Jake Peavy and Jeff Francis were the starting pitchers, and each pitched at least seven innings, with Peavy going eight. Yet both could’ve taken a taxi to the nicest hotel in San Diego and gotten a good nap in by the time this game finished.

When the Rockies scored in the top of the 14th inning, it almost felt merciful. But the Padres, to their credit, weren’t interested in going quietly into that good night. Josh Bard singled home the game-tying run, sending it to a 15th inning.

Two hours later, the game finally ended.

After 6 hours and 16 minutes, with over 650 pitches thrown, 147 plate appearances combined, 37 strikeouts, and 15 different pitchers, the game finally ended at 1:20 am Pacific Time. Unfortunately, the Padres lost as Troy Tulowitzki doubled home a run in the top of the 22nd and the Padres, perhaps mercifully, failed to respond.

It is by far the longest game in Petco Park history and tied for the ninth-longest game in MLB history.

 

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15. Barry Bonds ties Hank Aaron (8/4/2007)

Yes, this moment is at the expense of the Padres. However, for this ballpark to house such a historic moment cannot be glossed over. Of course, there is controversy surrounding the current all-time home run king in Barry Bonds, given his ties to steroids. But in the moment, this was immortal baseball history in the making.

His opposite-field homer over the left field fence at Petco Park equalized himself with Hank Aaron with 755 home runs.

Three days later, in San Francisco, he would become the official home run king in MLB history.

 

14. Hunter Renfroe walk-off grand slam vs. Dodgers (5/5/2019)

The Padres have had a few walk-off grand slams in their time at Petco Park. This will be the only one listed. They were facing the hated Dodgers. They still were trying to break through as a team to be respected. Although they faltered down the stretch in 2019, this moment will live on. Perhaps it was the spark of a new era of this rivalry with the Dodgers.

The inning started with three straight singles. Manuel Margot and Wil Myers both reached base via bunt single to load the bases with the Friars down by one. For a moment, it appeared as if the four-time All-Star closer Kenley Jansen was going to tight-rope himself out of it, getting two straight outs after that.

Renfroe came up as San Diego’s last hope, with two outs and still trailing by one. He sat on an inside fastball and unloaded the ball into the frenzy of fans in the Western Metal Supply Co. building for a dramatic walk-off grand slam. It gave the Padres an emotional home win over the Dodgers.

 

13. Bartolo Colon home run (5/7/2016)

Another one that came at the expense of San Diego’s pitching staff. However, Padres fans can look back on this one and chuckle, as it seemed to, perhaps indirectly, begin a cascade of events that led to them acquiring one Fernando Tatis Jr.

Bartolo Colon is something of a cult hero in baseball circles. The portly pitcher had carved out an impressive career that ended up being 21 years long. His hitting prowess was hovering around nonexistent. He had 25 hits in 21 years. Most highlights of him at the plate were of his batting helmet’s lack of ability to stay on his head mid-swing.

That all changed when he stepped into the box against James Shields, launching a Ruthian blast into left field.

This set the entire baseball world ablaze. Every highlight show, Twitter account, and baseball media outlet seemed to be sharing this highlight with multiple mouth-gaping-open emojis.

Not long after this moment, Shields was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Erik Johnson and some teenager named Fernando Tatis Jr.

Things worked out in the end for the Padres, you might say.

 

12. New uniform reveal (11/9/2019)

While this wasn’t exactly a baseball game per se, it was a significant moment in Padres history. After years and years of fans clamoring to “Bring Back the Brown,” or at least bring back remotely interesting uniforms, the Padres finally did it.

Not only was the uniform change an instant success and upgrade, the turnout by fans at Petco Park was incredible. For simply a uniform unveiling, several thousand fans showed up. It was much more than just a press conference with a few players showing off the new threads.

It was a party. Fireworks, “brown” carpet show, cocktails, loud music, and thousands of approving fans.

In my humble opinion, the Padres have never looked better. This organization doesn’t always get things right, but this was perfectly executed.

 

11. 2020 American League Playoffs 

How weird was 2020? With each passing season, that COVID-shortened campaign just looks more and more strange. At one point, the Padres broadcasters were sitting up in their booth at Petco Park calling a Padres game being played in Texas (the NLDS) on a TV monitor, while an actual baseball game (the ALDS) was being played on the field below, in front of their eyes.

Major League Baseball created “bubbles” for each playoff matchup at neutral sites. Petco Park was chosen as the site for the AL Division Series matchup between the Yankees and Rays. It also hosted the ALCS between the Rays and Astros. The Rays ended up unseating the Astros as the American League champion in an epic battle that went seven games.

The Rays celebrated an American League pennant on Petco Park’s field. 2020 was a real-life Twilight Zone.

 

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