The legend of No. 44 for the Padres

Credit: USA Today Sports

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Last season, long-suffering San Diego Padres fans were graced with the most elusive of achievements for the franchise — a no-hitter.

Four times in their history, they have been on the cusp of this achievement, but it took the efforts of Grossmont High’s own Joe Musgrove to bring all 27 outs home. He did this with the number 44 on his back.

When Musgrove was traded to the Padres, he decided to wear number 44 in honor of another Padre right-handed starter: Jake Peavy. Padres fans were overjoyed to see no-no Joe don the double four on his historic night; however, he should have never been given that opportunity.

Jake Peavy was an undeniable talent.

Though, it wasn’t just his power sinker, wipeout slider, and command of the zone that captured the hearts of San Diegans. It was his relentless approach and demonstrative attitude that helped him torment the NL West for his eight years in a Padres uniform.

There is no greater example of his dominance than his triple crown 2007 Cy Young-winning season in which he posted a league-best 19 Wins, 2.54 ERA, and 240 strikeouts.

A pitcher who leads the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts is said to have won the “pitching triple crown.” In MLB history, the pitching triple crown has been accomplished 39 times by 28 pitchers. Fewer than 20,000 players have ever played in the MLB. To say these 28 are in an elite company is an understatement.

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

The Padres were established in 1969 and have retired six jersey numbers. Number 42 is retired in honor of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. Only five actual Padres players have been bestowed with the honor of retirement.

A total of four Padres have come home with Cy Young honors (Peavy, Randy Jones, Gaylord Perry, and Mark Davis). Trevor Hoffman was robbed of one, in my opinion, but I digress. Of all these award-winners, the lovable lefty Randy Jones is the only one to have their jersey number retired. Number 35 is never to be worn again.

It is disappointing that Peavy has not been graced with a similar honor.

After all, outside of the obvious retirements of  No. 19 ( Tony Gwynn)  No. 51 Trevor Hoffman and the aforementioned No. 35 for Randy Jones, the other choices for retired numbers do not set the bar insurmountably high.

No. 31 Dave Winfield– played eight total seasons. He did go into the Hall of Fame as the first Padre, even though Winfield played for the New York Yankees longer (nine years).

No. 6 Steve Garvey– Spent his final five seasons with the Padres after spending his first 14 seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He did have some memorable moments for the Friars, including the epic homer off Lee Smith and the Cubs.

Jake Peavy spent the first eight years of his 15 MLB seasons in the Padre blue (sometimes brown, sand, or camo). In that time, he ranks second in pitching WAR only behind Trevor Hoffman. He also ranks seventh in ERA and is tied for second with Randy Jones for career wins. These numbers alone are worthy of jersey retirement, but when you consider he is one of 28 pitchers to EVER win the pitching triple crown, it is inexcusable that his jersey has not been honored.

Even though he should not have been able to wear  No. 44, Joe Musgrove undoubtedly added to the legacy of this number in Friar lore. As Jake Peavy captured his heart at an early age, Joe captured something Padres fans have yearned for over 50 years, becoming the last MLB franchise to achieve its first no-hitter.

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Fans were devastated when the Padres brass decided unceremoniously to send Peavy to the south side of Chicago, a pattern San Diegans hope is a thing of the past.

The present Seidler-led group has already distinguished themselves from previous owners by investing in their club, bringing in high profile free agents, making splash trades but most importantly, locking up one of the game’s premier talents in Fernanado Tatis Jr.

No longer wanting to be known as a club that casts their best players aside, they should go further to honor the legacy of one of its best talents to wear the uniform. Retire No. 44. Honor the legacy of Jake Peavy.

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