The San Diego Padres may not be the most successful franchise, but there are several reasons why I am thankful for the organization. On this Thanksgiving, let’s take a look at five things I am thankful for when it comes to the Padres.
In this day of giving thanks for everything we have in life, it is time to recognize the little things, like our beloved sports teams.
The Padres are responsible for many heartaches throughout their existence in San Diego.
They have failed to bring a championship to America’s Finest City, but we still support them with the hope of one day hoisting a World Title trophy. It shall happen one day. I can feel it.
The day of Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family. A time to rejoice and give thanks for all we have, as insignificant as it may seem. For you see, it can always be worse. Even though the road is dark and mysterious, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I truly believe that. The Padres will bring joy to their fan base one day. We just have to be patient, and the only thing we can do is give thanks for what we do have.
We have our Padres memories that nobody can ever take away from us. Proud moments in the history of this franchise. These moments shape who we are as a fan base. Here is my list of five “Padres” things I am thankful for on this day of thanks. Enjoy.
#1 Fallen Friars
Tony Gwynn (1960-2014) The most beloved member of the Padres’ family, who tragically lost his battle with cancer, is who I am probably the most thankful for. I had the pleasure of watching or hearing the majority of Gwynn’s at bats. I can fondly remember sitting in the back of him at Jack Murphy Stadium in the right-field stands and rooting him on. He was truly a class act and it had nothing to do with his skill on the ball field. He is greatly missed and the fact he is gone is still very surreal. There will never be another Tony Gwynn. They broke the mold when they made him.
Jerry Coleman (1924-2014) The colonel’s voice still rings in my head. “A one-hopper to Nettles, to Wiggins… and the Padres win the National League pennant… OH DOCTOR, you can hang a star on that baby!” is a call that I can vividly remember. That moment when the Padres beat the Cubs at home to advance to the 1984 World Series was a magical moment in the team’s history. Coleman teamed along with Ted Leitner, Bob Chandler, Dave Campbell, and Rick Monday on TV and the radio is what I remember hearing and seeing in my youth. I am thankful for Jerry Coleman and his iconic voice. He is missed by many in the baseball community.
Ken Caminiti (1963-2004). Besides Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti has to go down as one of my favorite Padres players of all-time. The man commanded respect on the field and played the game with all his heart. He was the leader of the team when he was in San Diego, and nobody dared to challenge that. His intensity and demand for perfection was also his weakness as he had chemical dependency issues. He fought his whole career battling those demons, and you have to wonder how good he would have been if he could have stayed sober. Yes, the man took steroids and cheated. I don’t care. He was a pleasure to watch on the field and played the game the way every player should. I am thankful for watching him play the game he loved and I only pray he finally has peace in his heart.
There are more fallen Friars. Too many to list. They all hold a special place in the heart of this franchise. They all wore the city’s name on their chest and they all represented our franchise. For their service to the team, they should all be remembered.
#2 The 1984 and 1998 Teams
The 1984 season was magical. It was the first taste of playoff baseball for the city, and that small taste was not enjoyed again until 1996. The Padres team was full of characters and they all played for one common goal. The team was not blessed with superstars, but they did have heart. Eric Show, Craig Lefferts, Dave Dravecky, Alan Wiggins, Terry Kennedy, and the rest of the gang became household names. The whole 25-man roster was adored by the fan base. If the 1978 season was when San Diegans fell in love with the Padres, the 1984 season was when the team married its fan base. We are together for the long haul. In sickness and in health. Through the lean years and the championship ones. The Padres are San Diego’s team.
In 1998, the season had a special feeling right from the beginning. For the first time in a long while, the franchise made a real effort to win. The acquisition of Kevin Brown from the Marlins was a clear indication that the team was serious about competing. Losing Derek Lee was a huge price to pay, but that is how the big boys play if they want to compete in MLB. The rotation of Brown, Sterling Hitchcock, Andy Ashby, and Joey Hamilton was fun to watch. Trevor Hoffman was lights-out in the pen and Tony Gwynn was at the tail end of his career. He was still very productive, but around this time is when his health started to fail. The team seemed destined to bring San Diego its first championship, but arguably one of the best teams in the history of the game (1998 New York Yankees) stood in the way. The pain still lingers as the Padres would once again fail in their quest. This playoff feeling has been gone too long. We need that joy again in our lives.
#3 The Alumni
From Ollie Brown (the team’s first pick in the 1969 draft) to Chris Burica (the team’s last selection in the 2016 MLB draft), each player holds a special place in the history of the franchise. No matter how insignificant their career was, they were all members of the franchise. I am thankful for them and would love for the present regime to recognize their past players. All the alumni of the San Diego Padres should be appreciated by the fan base. Players like Kurt Bevacqua, Randy Jones, Mark Grant, Steve Finley, Clay Hensley, Andy Ashby, and Mark Sweeney, that come back to work for the team in some capacity, are priceless. Those alumni should be treasured and kept working around the players as long as possible so that they can help usher in a “Padres Way” of baseball. It’s a style of baseball that is often spoken about, but yet no action is taking place by ownership.
#4 The Fan Base
This mostly fickle bunch holds a special place in my heart. I understand the anger, I understand the embarrassment, I understand the fear. We, as a group, have been abused by our team, and it is only natural to have all these emotions. The San Diego Padres, quite frankly, have beaten down their fan base continually throughout their existence. Things are getting better, but I am thankful for my fellow Padres fans because we all know the pain each other feels. We get confrontational with one another and we fight, but that is only because the volcanic feelings that we have bottled up have to be expelled. The likely place to release these frustrations is on each other. Stay the course, fans. We will reap the benefits one day, and by staying true to the San Diego Padres, the joy will be that much sweeter.
#5 Current Ownership
Peter Seidler and Ron Fowler are the current group that runs things, and each brings a ton to the table. Fowler, being a San Diego native, has a ton of pride for the city. He wants nothing but the best for his team and is unafraid to speak his mind. You have to respect that. Seidler has an aura about him of baseball royalty. With his family ties, that is not far from the truth, but at the same time he appears very approachable and always looks to have the best intentions of the team on his mind. I am thankful that this duo is leading the way and I can only hope that they continue to do things for the betterment of the team. Embrace the history, good sirs, and this franchise will achieve its goals.