That iconic walk-off home run in game four off Lee Smith of the Chicago Cubs will always be my lasting memory of Steve Garvey. It brings goosebumps to my skin, thinking about that moment.

That has to be one of the best moments in Padre history, if not the best. The sound from the Jack Murphy Stadium crowd as that one out, ninth-inning drive, stuck the back retaining wall is a sound that echoes through my mind. What a joyful occasion for the city. Steve Garvey‘s #6 is appropriately retired by the Padres mainly because of this fact.

Steve Garvey had a long and lustrous career in the major leagues. The first 14 seasons were with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where Garvey won an MVP award in 1974 at the age of 25. He hit .312 with 21 home runs and 111 RBIs while guiding the Dodgers to the World Series, where they lost to the Oakland Athletics in five games. 1974 would be the first of eight straight years where Steve Garvey was elected to the All-Star game for the Dodgers.

The former first-round pick (13th overall) in the 1968 draft became a free agent after the 1982 season. The Dodgers lost Garvey to the San Diego Padres, as then-general manager Jack Mckeon signed Garvey to a $6.6 million deal for five seasons. The Padres had outbid the Dodgers in an attempt to rebuild the team with quality major league players.

Steve Garvey was viewed as a great role model for the youth that dominated the Padres 25 man roster.

Credit: AP Photo

Garvey was in the midst of his National League record 1207 consecutive games played. He showed up every day and played while hurt, a perfect example for young players. The fantastic move by Jack Mckeon resulted in a pivotal piece to the Padres winning season.

Steve Garvey played six seasons with the Padres, playing in 835 games. In his 2987 at-bats, he totaled 76 home runs while driving in 424 runs. As a Padres, Garvey racked up a .274 career batting average and two All-Star appearances for the Friars.

Though Garvey clearly had his best seasons in Dodger blue, any stat couldn’t possibly measure his leadership. For the Padres, he provided just what they needed for a young club.

I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Garvey, and he is an absolute professional. He is a throwback to the era that is long gone. He wears a sports coat and slacks all the time, and you would never see Steve Garvey wearing his baseball hat backwards on the baseball field. No offense to modern-day players, as the game has changed, but you have to respect a ballplayer of Garvey’s mold. A true professional.

These days Steve Garvey resides in Southern California with his wife of over 25 years. He can be seen in and around the game of baseball. Garvey had a battle with prostate cancer in the fall of 2012 but remains in good health. He is very active in raising awareness for the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. An actual off-field battle that is more important than any silly game.

Best wishes, Mr. Garvey.