In commemoration of the San Diego Padres upcoming 50th anniversary season, we’re taking a look back at the Padres’ 1984 and 1998 National League Championship teams. Last week, we revisited the 1984 champs (see here) and this time we’ll take a look at the excellent 1998 club.
The Padres were shut out of the playoffs for eleven years following their appearance in the 1984 World Series, although they did have five .500+ winning seasons in that span. Former Padres back-up catcher, Bruce Bochy, was brought on board as manager in 1995 and Kevin Towers was hired as General Manager in 1996. The two were able to pilot the Friars to the 1996 NL West title aided by NL MVP Ken Caminiti’s 40 HRs and 130 RBIs. However, the Padres lost the NL Division Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0. The team took a bit of downturn in 1997 (76-86), but rebounded strongly in 1998, going 98-64 (.605) and winning the NL West. The Padres then took the Division Series against the Houston Astros, 3-1, and the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, 4-2. But when the Padres showed up to play the Yankees in the World Series, there was nothing left in the tank and were embarrassed, 4-0.
But getting to the World Series is no joke, so let’s took a look back at that solid 1998 NL Champion roster:
- C- Carlos Hernandez: The ex-Dodger veteran gave the Padres stability and leadership behind the plate.
- 1B – Wally Joyner: Joyner’s All-Star years were behind him but he was still solid offensively and defensively.
- 2B – Quilvio Veras: The Dominican had a quiet, three-year tenure with the Pads.
- SS – Chris Gomez: Gomez was a solid SS/2B with a sixteen-year career to show for it.
- 3B – Ken Caminiti: Was a monster at the “hot corner.” His numbers had dipped a bit since his MVP showing in 1996, but he was still an imposing player. Caminiti later admitted to using steroids during his career and died of acute drug intoxication in 2004.
- LF – Greg Vaughn: The outfielder had a spectacular All-Star year in 1998 with 50 HRs and 119 RBIs.
- CF – Steve Finley: Was in the prime of his long career in ’98 and was a solid centerfielder for the Friars for four seasons.
- RF – Tony Gwynn: The future Baseball Hall-of-Famer and “Mr. Padre” completed what was easily the best outfield trio in Padres team history.
- Pitching – Kevin Brown (18-7) and Andy Ashby (17-9) led an excellent rotation which also included Joey Hamilton, Sterling Hitchcock, and Mark Langston. If the starters got in trouble, they could always depend on closer, Trevor Hoffman, to bail them out. The future Baseball Hall-of-Famer recorded 53 saves in ’98, a career high.
Vaughn, Gwynn, Brown, Ashby, and Hoffman were all selected to the 1998 NL All-Star team.
Gwynn, Hoffman, Caminiti, and Towers were later inducted into the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame.
Following their disappointing performance against the Yankees in the World Series, the Padres cleaned house. Caminiti, Vaughn, Finley, and Brown were gone the following season. The Padres would not appear in the playoffs again until 2005 followed by another appearance in 2006. The Friars have been shut out of the playoffs ever since.