The connection of the San Diego Padres to the Mexican and Mexican-American community starts from the organization’s name.
The Friars came to fruition when Bill Lane decided to move the Hollywood Stars to San Diego in 1936. The name refers to the Spanish priests that founded America’s Finest City in 1769. But the name immediately attracts attention from the Mexican community as Catholicism is the dominant religion south of the border.
The Padres will make strides to connect with the fan base in Mexico as they will sacrifice three home games at Petco Park to play a series in Monterrey, Mexico this year against the Dodgers from May 4-6.
The Friars’ first superstar was an American teenager with Mexican descent known as Ted Williams. Before his glory days with the Red Sox and his induction into Cooperstown, “Teddy Ballgame” played with the Padres in the PCL. His Mexican heritage may be shocking to many, but his maternal grandparents were from Mexico.
Since then, there have been several Mexican-born and Mexican-American players to sport brown, yellow, blue, white, pinstripes, and camouflage for San Diego in MLB.
Here is a rundown of all 36 of those players that have played for the Padres in the major leagues. There will be surprises because of either their descent or because of the fact that they played for the Padres.
Mike Adams RHP
There are 13 Mexican-American players on this list, starting off with longtime reliever Mike Adams. Adams will be a player that is very familiar to Padres’ fans, but not many people will know about his heritage. The Texas native played with the Friars from 2008-2011 before being traded to the Texas Rangers for Robbie Erlin and Joe Weiland. The right-handed pitcher was key to several Bud Black teams out of the bullpen, posting a microscopic 1.66 ERA during his time in San Diego.
Jorge Cantu INF
Cantu is still playing professionally not too far from San Diego with the Tijuana Toros. The infielder has not played in MLB since 2011 when he played 57 games with the Padres. The Texas native might just be one of the Friars’ worst free agent signings ever as he hit just .194 with three home runs in those 57 games. Cantu has represented Mexico in WBC’s and is a key player for Tijuana just across the border.
Corrales was traded to the Padres back in 1972 by the Cincinnati Reds for Bob Barton and played with the first-ever Mexican-born player to play for the Friars, Vicente Romo. The Los Angeles-born backstop was not great for Don Zimmer’s team as he hit under the Mendoza line during his tenure with San Diego from 1972-1973. Corrales’ playing career ended with the Padres, but he went on to have an extensive managerial and coaching career in MLB, most recently forming part of the Washington Nationals’ coaching staff in 2011.
Chris Gomez INF
Gomez was not a phenomenal player, but he was one of those fan favorites that stuck around with the team during the late nineties. The versatile infielder was part of the 1998 team as he played with the Friars from 1996-2001.
Edgar Gonzalez INF
There are two pairs of brothers on this list, the first being the Gonzalez brothers. Edgar was the older and lesser known one. He was still a decent player with the Padres from 2008-2009 as he managed to hit .255 with 11 home runs in this time and was a solid role player on the team. Gonzalez is now enjoying a successful managerial career as he is currently the skipper of the Mexico national team.
“El Titan” is easily one of the best players in Padres’ franchise history and one of the best Mexican-American players ever as well. Fan favorite is an understatement when talking about “Agon”, as he connected with the fan base like very few players have before. Some younger Friars’ faithful may even consider Gonzalez the best Padres’ player they ever saw because of his consistency and achievements with the team. The San Diego native hit .288 with a .374 OBP, 161 home runs and 501 RBI for his hometown team from 2006-2010. Gonzalez made three All-Star games, won two Gold Gloves and was one of the best players in MLB with the Padres before his heartbreaking move to the Boston Red Sox in 2011.
Right around the same time as the Gonzalez brothers played, there were another pair of siblings that played with the Friars, the Hairston brothers. Their Mexican heritage is lesser known, but they did represent Mexico in the 2009 WBC. Scott played under Buddy Black in parts of seasons from 2007-2010. The outfielder hit .251 with 45 home runs in his time with the club and always seemed like a threat at the plate.
Jerry Hairston Jr. INF/OF
The older Hairston brother is now known more for his broadcast career with the Dodgers, but he did play with the San Diego Padres back in 2010. In his lone season with the Friars, he hit .244 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI.
Quentin played on some forgettable Bud Black teams from 2012-2014, but was actually one of the standouts during this dark period. His 2014 season was terrible, but the outfielder was decent in 2012-2013 as he hit .261 with 16 homers in 2012 and .275 with 13 bombs in 2013. The California native hit under the Mendoza line in 50 games in 2014 and retired shortly after that year.
Cesar Ramos LHP
The left-handed reliever only played 19 games with the Friars from 2009-2010 before being part of a multi-player deal to the Tampa Bay Rays for Jason Bartlett. Ramos had an ERA over six in his time in San Diego, but found success with the Rays.
Rich Rodriguez LHP
A left-handed reliever that was successful for the Padres was Rich Rodriguez, who played with the team from 1990-1993 before being part of a blockbuster. Rodriguez was in the deal that sent over Gary Sheffield to the Marlins and brought over Trevor Hoffman to the Pads, along with Mexican pitcher Andres Berumen. The California native posted a 2.86 ERA in 191 games before being traded to Florida for the Hall of Fame closer.
Adam Rosales INF
Rosales did not have a long stay with the club, but will be remembered for his grit and hustle by Padres’ fans in his 2016 season. The Illinois native hit .229 with 13 home runs in 214 at-bats in his lone season in San Diego.
Rudy Seanez RHP
Seanez had an extensive career from 1989-2008 and had four different stints with the San Diego Padres. The right-handed reliever’s best season with the Friars came in 2005 when he posted a 7-1 record with a 2.69 ERA in 57 games.
Vicente Romo RHP
In October of 1972, the Chicago White Sox traded Vicente Romo to the San Diego Padres for Johnny Jeter. “Huevo” was the first-ever Mexican-born player to play for the Friars, four years into the birth of the franchise. Romo posted a 4.08 ERA in 103 games, mainly out of the bullpen for San Diego, before making a move back to Mexico in 1975. The right-hander is highly respected in his home country, where he achieved many great feats and still coached recently.
Hector Torres INF
Torres played under John McNamara from 1975-1976 and hit .235 with nine home runs in 186 games in America’s Finest City. The Monterrey, Mexico native was then traded to the Cleveland Indians in a multi-player deal that brought George Hendrick to San Diego.
The Mexican infielder had an extensive MLB career from 1967-1983 and played with the Friars towards the end of his MLB career in 1980. Rodriguez was 32 when he arrived in San Diego as he started his MLB career when he was just 19 years old with the Angels. The Sonora, Mexico native hit right at the Mendoza line with the Padres in 89 games before being bought by the New York Yankees in the same year.
Sid Monge LHP
Monge came to the Padres in 1983 from the Philadelphia Phillies for Joe Lefebvre and was part of the 1984 team, but did not quite get to the World Series. The Mexican reliever was bought by the Detroit Tigers midway through the season before his MLB career ended after that season.
Guillermo Velasquez 1B/OF
The Mexicali, Mexico native spent four years in the minors before making his major league debut with the Padres in 1992. He was impressive in his limited playing time as he hit .304 and belted a home run in 23 at-bats in his debut season. 1993 was set to be a big year for Velasquez, but he failed as he hit just .210 in 79 games for the Friars. He would never play in the majors after this season.
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Francisco, 26, Chula Vista/Tijuana. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres’ 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the local soccer scene. Tijuana Xolos, San Diego Loyal, San Diego Wave.