#5 Oscar Gamble (1978)
The 1978 San Diego Padres was the franchises 10th season in the major leagues, and it was by far the team’s most successful season. The 1978 season would be the first time in franchise history that the team would finish with a winning record. It seemed like the beginning of something huge for the swinging Friars.
A fourth-place finish and an 84-78 record doesn’t seem like much, but for Padres fans, it was a signal this team could succeed. The team also sent its first two players (in the same year) to the annual all-star game as both Dave Winfield and Gaylord Perry were selected to represent the team at home in San Diego Stadium. The franchise seemed to be on the rise, and there were many faces to the Padres team.
The team enjoyed success from Dave Winfield, Gaylord Perry, Randy Jones, Rollie Fingers, Gene Richards, and Oscar Gamble. The charismatic Gamble was signed as a free agent in November of 1977. He was coming off a massive season with the Chicago White Sox in which he hit .297 with 31 home runs and 83 RBIs in 137 games. The Padres needed some left-handed power, and Gamble was supposed to provide that for the young San Diego Padres team.
Gamble didn’t have his best season, but he provided the young ball club an identity and helped groom young players like Dave Winfield. The 18-foot walls at San Diego Stadium psyched out Gamble, and word was he changed his swing to uppercut the ball more.
He ended up hitting .275 with seven homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres in 126 games. His power was simply zapped playing in the spacious confines of San Diego Stadium. Manager Roger Craig still got the most out of Gamble, and he put up a 1.8 WAR for the Padres. He was traded at the end of the season with Dave Roberts and $300,000 for Kurt Bevacqua, Bill Fahey, and Mike Hargrove. A strange one year run for Gamble in the Padres outfield.
#4 Rondell White (2003)
In early spring training of 2003, the Padres were on the lookout for outfield help. The team pulled off a deal with the New York Yankees, where they dealt Bubba Trammell, Mark Phillips, and cash to the Yankees for outfielder Rondell White. He was 31-years-old and was coming off a season where he hit .240 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs for the Bronx Bombers. The Padres simply moved Trammell in an attempt to get a little more athletic in the outfield.
White responded very well for the Padres with a batting line of .278/.330/.465 with 18 homers and 66 runs batted in. He produced a 2.0 WAR rating in 115 games and 413 at-bats for the Friars.
He was dealt in August just before the waiver deadline. He was an impending free agent, and the Padres were not going to be able to retain him. The team ended up getting pennies on the dollar when they dealt him to the Kansas City Royals for Chris Tierney and Brian Sanches.
Rondell White was really good in his brief tenure in the Padres outfield. He was the lone Padres all-star participant in the annual July game in 2003. That all-star appearance was White’s only time making the team in his 15-year career. He is an excellent example of the oddity of this franchise with its outfielders. Just one year as a Padres player, and it was very productive to boot.
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