GRAIG NETTLES- THIRD BASE
Right before the start of the 1984 season, “Trader” Jack Mckeon picked up Graig Nettes from the New York Yankees in exchange for Dennis Rasmussen and Darin Cloninger.
Nettles was a home town guy, playing his high school ball at San Diego high school and going to college at San Diego State University. He was also the left-handed power bat and third baseman that the Padres desperately needed. Another veteran no-nonsense type player, like Nettles, meant the Padres clubhouse was going to have a different feel to it in 1984.
Graig Nettles was a fourth-round pick out of SDSU in 1965. The Minnesota Twins came calling, and off he went to start his professional career. Nettles lasted only three seasons in Minnesota and was dealt to the Cleveland Indians in a package deal for Luis Tiant.
Nettles had three decent seasons for the Indians but was dealt in 1973 to the Yankees. It was in New York that Nettles became a polished major league talent. He was a five-time All-Star for the Yankees and played a total of 11 seasons in the Bronx. He smashed 259 career home runs for the Yankees and played in over 1,500 games recording a .253 average. Nettles is a borderline Yankee legend.
The 1984 season was not Nettles best by any means, but 20 home runs from the third base position was a great thing for the Padres. He was the perfect platoon partner to the right-handed hitting Luis Salazar.
Nettles played in 124 games at the age of 39 and hit .228 with 20 home runs and 65 runs batted in. He had a scorching August that season with a .266 batting average and eight home runs and 13 runs batted in. He helped clinch the pennant with that August and, on September 17, 1984, his bloop triple scored the winning run in a walk-off 11 inning effort against the Cincinnati Reds.
Graig Nettles also had a battle with prostate cancer in 2007 and underwent surgery in early 2008. He is doing well and can still be seen at some Yankee and Padres functions. Nettles was a solid third baseman and still holds the record for assists in a single season (412 assists in the 1971 season).
Nettles, son Jeff, was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 47th round of the 1998 MLB draft. Jeff Nettles, a third baseman, shortstop and first baseman retired from baseball in 2012, falling short of his goal of reaching the major leagues.
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