A look at the most-memorable home runs in the history of the San Diego Padres.
We all know, “chicks dig the long ball.” Home runs are one of the most exciting moments in sports, especially when they come late in games. Memorable home runs can come amid a disappointing season or in the thick of a playoff race.
The San Diego Padres have plenty of memorable home runs throughout their 51-year history. But, which ones stick out?
The first two are quite obvious.
Steve Garvey, 1984 NLCS Game 4
It isn’t quite a “shot heard ’round the world,” it’s more like “shot heard ’round Southern California.” The Padres were still relatively young as a franchise, in just its 16th year of existence. The 1984 squad was the first to make the playoffs, and they certainly did not stop there.
The Friars squared off against the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS for a shot at playing in the World Series. San Diego found themselves in a 2-1 hole heading into Game 4, facing elimination at home. The Cubs took an early 3-2 lead in that game before the contest headed into the ninth inning, tied at five apiece.
Thanks to a scoreless top of the ninth by Craig Lefferts, the Friars went to work in the bottom half to try and walk it off and stave off elimination. Alan Wiggins struck out to lead off the inning before Tony Gwynn singled ahead of Garvey’s at-bat.
With a 1-0 count, Garvey swung hard and lined a ball deep into the night at Jack Murphy Stadium, sending the home crowd into a frenzy and sending the series to a decisive Game 5, one which the Padres win to go onto the Fall Classic.
The Padres certainly do not hang a National League championship banner that season without Garvey’s heroics, which earned himself a place among the retired numbers in Padres history.
Tony Gwynn, 1998 World Series Game 1
Mr. Padre certainly had plenty of memorable moments in his 20-year career with the Friars. None might be more memorable than his towering, two-run shot at Yankee Stadium to put the Padres on top 4-2, scoring Quilvio Veras, who singled ahead of Gwynn against David Wells.
Even though the Padres were swept in the series, this gave Friar faithful a moment to celebrate for all time as one of the best in Gwynn’s illustrious career.
It was a crowning moment for the Hall of Famer, who was waning in his playing days. It ended up being his only career postseason homer, and it came on the sport’s biggest stage in its most storied venue.
Steve Finley walk-off grand slam, 1998
Walk-off grand slams are very rare, and most will make a list like this.
Before the World Series in 1998, plenty of special things happened along the way. Finley was one of those hitters where, when he got hot, he was unstoppable. He hit 14 home runs for the Friars that season but none were bigger than his walk-off grand slam in April.
Against the Diamondbacks, the Padres trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Felix Rodriguez came in to seal the win for Arizona. Greg Vaughn led off with a single before two outs were made. Mark Sweeney and Quilvio Veras both worked a walk ahead of Finley to set up the heroics.
This walk-off slam sparked seven wins in eight games and the Friars would finish 19-7 in March/April.
Ken Caminiti, 1998 NLCS Game 1
Before the Padres reached the World Series, they first had to get through the gauntlet of talented National League teams in the playoffs. After disposing of the Houston Astros, their reward was to face the “Team of the 90s” in the Atlanta Braves.
The Padres took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth in Game 1 in Atlanta before the Braves spoiled Trevor Hoffman’s save bid.
Scrambling to regroup in extra innings, the Padres looked to 1996 MVP Ken Caminiti for a lift. With one out in the 10th inning, Caminiti lined a ball into left-center field, giving the Padres a 3-2 lead. The Friars would eventually win the game by the same score and jump out to a 1-0 series advantage.
This home run was monumental for momentum in this series as the Padres needed every ounce of clutch performances to get past the mighty Braves and into the World Series. The tone was set by Caminiti’s game-winning home run.
Rondell White, walk-off grand slam, 2003
There were not very many highlight moments in the 2003 season for the Friars as they finished 64-98. However, Rondell White certainly delivered one.
White only played 115 games for the Padres in his 15-year career but this moment was definitely his best.
Facing the Seattle Mariners, the Friars were down 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth. The bases became loaded for Ryan Klesko, who worked a walk to cut the lead to two runs. Up came White to the plate.
White lined a shot over the left field fence for the walk-off slam, lifting the Friars to a 5-3 win over their interleague rivals.
Everth Cabrera, walk-off grand slam, 2009
Before he became an All-Star in 2013, Cabrera was a rookie just trying to get by in 2009.
Facing the Mets in August, the Friars trailed 2-1 to New York heading into the bottom of the ninth. Facing six-time All-Star Francisco Rodriguez, putting together a rally is a tall task. After a leadoff walk, Will Venable lined a game-tying double and made it to third on the throw, with nobody out. This lead the Mets to walk the bases loaded ahead of Cabrera to try and force an out at home.
Instead, the rookie lined a low fastball deep over the right field fence, winning the game on a grand slam.
Cabrera was never a power threat in his five-plus seasons in San Diego, hitting just 12 total home runs in 481 games. This was one him nor the fans that were watching will ever forget.
Adrian Gonzalez, walk-off grand slam, 2010
2010 was a fun season in San Diego despite the heartbreaking finish.
The Friars won 90 games and were in first place in the National League West for most of the season. This was much due to the slugging of All-Star Adrian Gonzalez. He hit 31 home runs that year but none more memorable than his walk-off grand slam against the Mets in June.
The Padres and Mets were locked at one apiece heading into extra innings. Tony Gwynn Jr. doubled to lead off the bottom of the eleventh and a single and hit by pitch loaded the bases for the five-time All-Star.
He lined a pitch into the opposite field stands in left to win the game for the Padres, sending the Petco Park fans home happy.
This also was a clutch grand slam because it kept the Padres in first place in front of the surging Dodgers, who were just a game behind and had won that day.
Derek Norris walk-off grand slam, 2015
The Padres trailed the Pirates 2-0 early on in that game in late May. They clawed back to tie the game at two, setting up drama in the later innings.
Jedd Gyorko led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk. Abraham Almonte reached on an error, leading the Pirates to intentionally walk the bases loaded.
It almost worked for Pittsburgh.
Pirates pitching retired the next two Friars ahead of Norris, who came to the plate with two outs, needing just one run to win it. To Norris, one wouldn’t be enough as he lined a fastball deep into center into the Padres bullpen for the walk-off slam.
In a season mired in disappointment, this was a moment of pure joy.
Francisco Mejia, walk-off grand slam, 2018
With the Padres not having made the playoffs since 2006, the most recent dingers on this list are mostly walk-off grand slams. And who doesn’t love a walk-off slam?
Francisco Mejia, then just recently acquired via trade as a touted catching prospect, was getting some at bats late in the season.
The Friars trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth against the Texas Rangers. First, Freddy Galvis doubled home the game-tying run to spoil the Texas victory. After two walks to load the bases, Mejia came to the plate with less than 30 games of major league experience.
He lined a ball over the left field fence for the walk-off grand slam, sending the Friar fans home jubilant on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The Padres are hoping Mejia is full of moments like these in his years ahead.
Hunter Renfroe, walk-off grand slam, 2019
The most recent dramatic home run came in early May 2019 against the rival Dodgers.
Los Angeles took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth and called on three-time All-Star Kenley Jansen to close it down.
The Friars led off the inning with three straight singles, two of them of the bunt variety, setting up Renfroe’s at bat. He sent a Jansen fastball into the Western Metal Supply Co. building for a walk-off grand slam. This was one of the biggest highlights of the 2019 season as it came against the Dodgers with the Padres three games above .500.
Renfroe would eventually be traded to the Tampa Bay Rays but this moment will live on as his best in a Padres uniform.