In commemoration of the San Diego Padres’ upcoming 50th anniversary season, I thought I’d take a look back at the club’s outstanding 1984 and 1998 seasons when they won the National League Pennant. We’ll kick things off by taking a look at the 1984 season.
I began following the Padres in their second season in 1970, but it was slim pickins for quite awhile for myself and other fans of the team. The expansion club only had one winning season in their first thirteen years, but things began to percolate in the early-1980s. Dapper “Trader Jack” McKeon was hired as GM in 1980 and began to piece together a solid roster. Crusty, no-nonsense manager, Dick Williams, was brought aboard in ’82. The Padres put together respectable .500 seasons in ’82 and ’83 and broke it wide open in 1984 with a 92-70 (.568) record and the National League West title. The aging vets (Garvey, Nettles), brought in by Trader Jack nicely complemented the home-grown kids (Gwynn, McReynolds). The pitching staff, though unspectacular, was solid, especially in relief with ex-Yankee, Rich “Goose” Gossage, as the intimidating closer.
Few gave the Padres a chance in the 1984 National League best-of-five championship series against the sentimental favorites, the Chicago Cubs, led by Ryne Sandberg, Leon Durham, 16-1 pitcher, Rick Sutcliffe, and closer, Lee Smith. Down 0-2 after the first two games, the Padres battled back and did the impossible, winning the next three games in a row, led by the heroics of Steve “Popeye arms” Garvey. The Padres’ poor 1-4 showing in the World Series against Detroit was anti-climactic after their amazing NLCS comeback.
Here’s the 1984 Padres starting roster with some 35-year-old memories I have of the players:
- C – Terry Kennedy: Solid catcher who handled the young pitchers with remarkable aplomb.
- 1B – Steve Garvey: The long-time (1969-1982) Dodgers All-Star still had some occasional pop in his bat.
- 2B – Alan Wiggins: A remarkable lead-off hitter who ran like the wind but later succumbed to drug addiction.
- SS – Garry Templeton: Tempy had a rifle for an arm and was sufficiently humbled after his temper got him into trouble in St. Louis. He ended up playing ten productive years for the Padres at one of baseball’s toughest positions.
- 3B – Graig Nettles: The former Yankee All Star’s best years were behind him, but he could still play the “hot corner” better than most.
- LF – Carmelo Martinez: Couldn’t catch a cold, but the Friars kept hoping he would develop some consistency with his big swing.
- CF – Kevin McReynolds: The kid had great potential that led to a twelve-year career, mostly with the Mets.
- RF – Tony Gwynn: One of the greatest “Punch and Judy” singles hitters of all time. Enjoyed a twenty-year-career, all with the Padres, including 3141 hits and a lifetime .338 BA. Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. Tony also worked hard to become a good defensive outfielder in spite of his increasing girth.
- Pitchers – Eric Show, Tim Lollar, Ed Whitson, Mark Thurmond, and Andy Hawkins made up a solid starting rotation anchored by Rich “Goose” Gossage, Dave Dravecky, and Craig Lefferts in relief.
Garvey, Gwynn, and Gossage were selected to the 1984 NL All Star team.
Gwynn, Williams, Templeton, and McKeon have been inducted into the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame.
The Padres had some decent seasons after their stellar 1984 NL Championship year, but wouldn’t return to the playoffs again until 1996. Next week we’ll take a look at the 1998 National League Champion Padres.