On March 26th, 1992, the San Diego Padres sent pitcher Ricky Bones, minor league outfielder Matt Mieske and minor league shortstop Jose Valentin to the Milwaukee Brewers for young slugger Gary Sheffield and minor league pitcher Geoff Kellogg.
The Padres needed a third baseman, and Sheffield was made available after being unhappy with Brewers management.
There were many reports that Sheffield was a distraction in the Brewers clubhouse.
He was labeled that by the Milwaukee media and could not shake the reputation. A fresh start in a Padres uniform was the best thing for Sheffield, and he responded in his first season in San Diego. Sheffield hit .330 with a .385 on-base percentage in 146 games and 557 at-bats. He also slammed 33 home runs and drove in 100 runs—all that at the age of 23. The Padres had a superstar of the future. Or at least we thought that.
Gary Sheffield ended up playing for the Padres for a little under a season and a half. He had a Padres career batting line of .319/.372/.546 with 43 home runs and 136 RBI’s in 815 at-bats. He also had an awe-inspiring 66 walks opposed to 70 strikeouts. A trademark for Sheffield, who had the reputation of being a very difficult batter to strike out over his career.
In June of 1993, the San Diego Padres decided to trade Sheffield at the age of 24 to the Florida Marlins. The team was shedding payroll, and Sheffield’s $3.1 million contract was deemed too costly for the once again rebuilding Padres. The fans were so angry. I can remember vividly being so upset at management that I refused to watch or go to a game for months after the June trade. Sheffield was an obvious star, and his salary was not huge by any means. It was just another example of the Padres team letting the fans down.
If not for the trade return, this deal would surely be complained about by more Padres fans. The Padres traded Sheffield and left-handed pitcher Rich Rodriguez to the Marlins for Andres Berumen, Jose Martinez, and a shortstop turned relief pitcher named Trevor Hoffman. The National League all-time saves leader was indeed acquired for Sheffield, and that made the loss of Sheffield much easier. Although it took some time to really appreciate Hoffman, the deal was a decent move for the Padres. Sheffield immediately took off as a major league player and even played for the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. The slugger blossomed as a Padre, and it was sad to see him take off in another uniform.
On August 7th, 1992, Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff hit back to back home runs twice in the first two innings of a game versus the Houston Astros. The four home runs accounted for all seven runs as the Padres beat the Astros 7-5 at home. All four home runs were hit off Astros’ right-handed pitcher Brian Williams who was later dealt to the Padres from the Astros in the monster 12 player deal in 1994.
What a solid middle of the order Tony Gwynn, Gary Sheffield, and Fred McGriff made. It is really a shame that Padres fans never got a real chance to appreciate this combination. Though Sheffield will never really be thought of as a San Diego Padres player by major league baseball fans, he will be remembered by Padres fans. The young slugger looked to be a future Friars superstar, but in the end, 16 years of Hell’s Bells wasn’t a bad trade-off. You really can’t be too upset about the trade.