Remembering San Diego Padres first manager Preston Gomez.
The San Diego Padres played their first MLB season in 1969, and the manager of that team was Preston Gomez, who was born on April 20, 1923. The Cuban skipper was the first-ever Padres manager and stayed with the team until 1972.
Oddly enough, Gomez joined San Diego because of a link with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Gomez had served as a third base coach for the Dodgers under hall of fame manager Walter Alston since 1965. Former Dodgers executive Buzzie Bavasi became the first-ever Padres president and gave Gomez the job as the manager.
Historically expansion teams struggle in all major sports. Cases like the Marlins are rare. Gomez was not a bad manager, but the Padres were woeful under his leadership with some very lackluster teams, to say the least.
The Padres finished their inaugural campaign with a 52-110 record, and their sophomore season was not much better with a 63-99 record. The Friars continued to struggle in 1971 as Gomez, and the Friars had a 61-100 record, slightly worse than 1970.
Gomez’s stint as San Diego’s skipper came to an end after just eleven games in 1972 as the Padres lost seven games under the Cuban manager. In this time, some of the standout players for the Padres were players like Nate Colbert, Ollie Brown, and Clay Kirby.
Perhaps one of his most infamous decisions as a Padres manager was pinch-hitting for pitcher Clay Kirby after the hurler had a no-hitter through eight innings in a game in 1970.
Gomez went on to coach and manage in the major leagues up until 1984. The Cuban coach led the Houston Astros from 1974-1975 and the Chicago Cubs in 1980. He coached the Dodgers in his second stint with the club from 1977-1979.
Gomez’s coaching career came to an end in 1984 as he spent his last years in the MLB from 1981-1984 with the California Angels. Unfortunately, Gomez passed away in 2009 at the age of 85, but Padres’ fans will forever remember him as one of the early figures in the team’s history.