*Back in 1988, Padres fan and local San Diegan Joe Furtado, started writing a book based on Padres history up to that point. 21 Chapters later he finished it and after a few failed attempts at getting it published, put it back on his shelf never to see the light of day…..that is until now. To read the other entries, click here.

By Joe Furtado:

When the last out of the World Series is recorded, although there is only one champion, every ball club feels optimistic about their chances for the upcoming season. With the exception of the two new entries in the American League (Seattle and Toronto), the new year brought visions of World Series shares to everyone, including the Padres.

No team had improved themselves in the off-season as much as San Diego. With the addition of Gene Tenace, Rollie Fingers, and George Hendrick, and the emergence of rookies Bob Shirley, Bill Almon, Mike Champion, and Gene Richards, there were those who felt the Padres were finally ready to challenge the Dodgers and the Reds in the Western Division.

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*Back in 1988, Padres fan and local San Diegan Joe Furtado, started writing a book based on Padres history up to that point. 21 Chapters later he finished it and after a few failed attempts at getting it published, put it back on his shelf never to see the light of day…..that is until now. To read the other entries, click here.

By Joe Furtado:

As the clock ticked off the final minutes of 1975, not only did it signal the end of another year, but it signaled the end of the current contract between the players and the owners. At the stroke of midnight, the agreement that had brought an end to the strike of 1972 would expire. The current negotiations, which had been progressing at their usual snail’s pace, were about to include a new issue that would shake the very foundation of the game.

Pitchers Andy Messersmith of the Dodgers and Dave McNally of the Expos had played the entire 1975 season with unsigned contracts. Although McNally had decided to retire, Messersmith declared himself a free agent and requested that the player’s association use him as a test case for the reserve clause in the current contract talks.

The same arbitrator who declared Catfish Hunter a free agent at the beginning of 1975, also declared that Messersmith was free to negotiate with any of the 24 major league teams.

Understandably, the owners were furious over the ruling. In addition to taking the matter to court, they announced that spring training camps would remain closed until a new contract was signed, just as they had done in 1972, the players began working out in local parks and ball fields.

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*Back in 1988, Padres fan and local San Diegan Joe Furtado, started writing a book based on Padres history up to that point. 21 Chapters later he finished it and after a few failed attempts at getting it published, put it back on his shelf never to see the light of day…..that is until now. To read the other entries, click here.

By Joe Furtado:

In the business of baseball, success is equated with money. If you’ve got it, you win; if you don’t, you lose. For six years, the Padres were run on a shoestring budget and consequently lost 608 games. With Ray Kroc, money was no object. He had lots of it, and he didn’t mind spending it. But Kroc was an impatient man. Used to success, he felt uncomfortable with a losing baseball team. He wanted to see results, and he wanted to see them quickly. It was Buzzie Bavasi’s job to improve the team, and if he didn’t, his job would be in jeopardy.

As the new year began, San Diego had an opportunity to spend some of Kroc’s cash. Pitcher Catfish Hunter of the Oakland A’s had been declared a free agent because A’s owner Charlie Finley failed to pay $50,000 owed to Hunter as stipulated in his contract. Citing breach of contract, Hunter announced that he would play for the team that made him the best offer. Catfish was in a position to get just about anything that he wanted. Over the past five seasons he had won 106 games, and in 1974 he led the A’s to their third consecutive World Championship while posting a 25-12 record and winning the Cy Young Award.

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*Back in 1988, Padres fan and local San Diegan Joe Furtado, started writing a book based on Padres history up to that point. 21 Chapters later he finished it and after a few failed attempts at getting it published, put it back on his shelf never to see the light of day…..that is until now. To read the other entries, click here.

By Joe Furtado:

He didn’t exactly ride into town on a white horse with his six-shooter and his trusted companion. Instead, he flew in on his private jet with his checkbook and his lawyers. If it wasn’t for the fact that some people had actually seen Ray Kroc, they would swear that Buzzie Bavasi made him up. The city of San Diego could search the world over and not find a more perfect owner for the Padres.

Not only was the Chicago businessman crazy about baseball, but he was very wealthy. Kroc was the founder, chairman, and largest stockholder of the McDonald’s Corporation, a hamburger empire that, in 1974, would gross $2 billion. His net worth was estimated at $500 million.
When the National League owners voted down Marjorie Everett, several potential buyers stepped forward. There was Houston financier Reuben Askanase, a personal friend of Bavasi and Walter O’Malley. He offered to purchase the team if no one else could. There was also a local group headed by Malin Burnham and Bob Golden. But they could never get the financing in order to make a viable offer.

Then there was Ray Kroc. One day while sitting in his Chicago apartment reading about the plight of the Padres, he turned to his wife and asked, “Honey, what would you think if I bought the Padres?” “I would say”, she answered,” that you are nuts.” Although it wasn’t the answer he was looking for, he had already made up his mind. He flew into San Diego with his lawyers to look over the teams financial records. Satisfied with what he saw, Kroc got together with the city and worked out a new lease for the use of the stadium.

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*Back in 1988, Padres fan and local San Diegan Joe Furtado, started writing a book based on Padres history up to that point. 21 Chapters later he finished it and after a few failed attempts at getting it published, put it back on his shelf never to see the light of day…..that is until now. To read the other entries, click here.

By Joe Furtado:

In spite of the announcement that the team would still be in San Diego in 1973, there were still those who felt it was only a matter of time before poor attendance forced the Padres to move. As devoted as C.Arnholt Smith appeared to be, he was still a businessman, and businessmen don’t enjoy losing large sums of money year after year. Whatever the future held for the team, management could not afford to sit around and wait for something to happen. A new season was approaching, and with it came the hope of better times.

In the winter free agent draft, the Padres, choosing third, selected 20 year old Dave Wehrmeister, a right-handed pitcher from LaGrange, Illinois. The number one pick in the draft was Arizona State infielder Alan Bannister, taken by the Phillies.

As spring training approached, the enigmatic Mike Ivie announced that he would make a bid for the #1 catching spot. After marrying his childhood sweetheart and seeing a psychologist in the off season, Ivie declared that he had matured and put all of his problems behind him.

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*Back in 1988, Padres fan and local San Diegan Joe Furtado, started writing a book based on Padres history up to that point. 21 Chapters later he finished it and after a few failed attempts at getting it published, put it back on his shelf never to see the light of day…..that is until now. To read the other entries, click here.

By Joe Furtado:

Did you ever have one of those days? You get up in the morning with everything planned out. You’re excited to take on the challenge that lies before you and come out like a champ. Then something happens that you didn’t anticipate, a couple of things go wrong, and before you know it, the day is shot. All you want to do his crawl back into bed and start all over.

For the Padres, 1972 was a lot like that. It started off great. Some personnel changes; in the front office, in the radio booth, and down on the field convinced the fans that Buzzie Bavasi was sincere in his efforts to keep the team in San Diego. Talk of moving to Washington, D.C. had all but subsided. Fan interest was at an all-time high, as were season ticket sales, and the community as a whole was rallying around the team like never before.

The club even got some new uniforms. They were double-knits, which made them quite comfortable, especially on those hot summer days, and they were colorful. Boy were they colorful. The Padres called them mission gold, but to everyone else, they appeared more yellow than gold. An apt description might be mustard yellow. One thing everyone did agree on was that they were bright. Jokes would abound all season long–peacocks, hot dogs, etc., but it was an effort to change the Padre image for the coming season, so mission gold it would be.

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*Back in 1988, Padres fan and local San Diegan Joe Furtado, started writing a book based on Padres history up to that point. 21 Chapters later he finished it and after a few failed attempts at getting it published, put it back on his shelf never to see the light of day…..that is until now. To read the other entries, click here.

By Joe Furtado:

There was reason for optimism as the 1971 baseball season approached. Attendance had increased more than 130,000 fans from 1969, and the Padres put the National League on notice that offensively, they were a force to be reckoned with. They had played good ball in September and the current mound corps, although still very young, had a full season of ex-perience under their belts. The future looked bright.

In the winter free agent draft held in January, the Padres had the first pick. With it they chose a 20 year old third base prospect from Pearland,Texas, by the name of Dave Hilton. They also drafted a left handed hitting outfielder named John Grubb. The radio trio of Jerry Gross, Duke Snider, and Frank Sims was pared down to two when Sims was named the Director of Radio and Television Operations. It was also announced that KCST, Channel 39 would televise 22 road games in 1971, including all the games in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Duke Snider and Channel 39 sports director Bob Chandler would do the TV commentary.

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*Back in 1988, Padres fan and local San Diegan Joe Furtado, started writing a book based on Padres history up to that point. 21 Chapters later he finished it and after a few failed attempts at getting it published, put it back on his shelf never to see the light of day…..that is until now. To read the other entries, click here

By Joe Furtado:

As the 1970 baseball season approached, the saga of St.Louis outfielder Curt Flood occupied the sports pages of America. Traded from St.Louis to the Phillies on October 9, 1969, Flood refused to report to his new team. Instead, he filed a $4.1 million law suit against baseball challenging the legality of the reserve clause, which binds a player to the team that holds his contract. While the suit was working its way through the courts, Flood spent the season in Denmark painting and running a restaurant. In August, a U.S. District Court upheld baseball’s exemption from anti-trust laws. Flood’s lawyers began an appeal process that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile Flood decided to return to the United States. After an agreement was made with the Washington Senators, he was officially traded from Philadelphia to Washington for 3 minor leaguers. He signed a contract with the Senators which included an understanding that he would not be traded and he prepared to start the 1971 campaign. Just 3 weeks into the season, citing financial problems and the fact that being away from the game for some 18 months was just too long, Curt Flood retired. In June of 1972, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court decision by a 5-3 vote. Baseball was in fact, exempt from anti-trust laws. The owners breathed a big sigh of relief.

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By: Joe Furtado

April 8, 1969. Baseball’s centennial season and the Padres very first opening day. Although a crowd of around 30,000 was anticipated, only 23,370 chose to be in on a part of history.

As the Padres lined up along the first base line decked out in their brand new uniforms, there was an air of anticipation in the stadium. After Carol Shannon, C.Arnholt Smith’s sister and chairwoman of the board of the Padres, threw out the first ball, and as the final words of the national anthem sang out from the voice of Beatrice Kay, accompanied by the NTC band, one could hear the words, “play ball” ring throughout the half-filled ball park.

Finally, at a few minutes after 8:00 pm, the first pitch was thrown by right hander Dick Selma past Houston right fielder Jesus Alou. Home plate umpire Shag Crawford called it a strike and the game was under way. Major league baseball had arrived in San Diego.

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*Back in 1988, Padres fan and local San Diegan Joe Furtado, started writing a book based on Padres history up to that point. 21 Chapters later he finished it and after a few failed attempts at getting it published, put it back on his shelf never to see the light of day…..that is until now. Padres Public will start posting a Chapter here and there for the rest of the year. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. A huge thanks to Joe for allowing us to get this out there!

By: Joe Furtado

As the crowd of 58,359 stood and chanted, “We’re Number One!, Goose Gossage quickly checked the runner at first and looked in for his sign.  The 1-2 pitch to Cub catcher Jody Davis was grounded to Graig Nettles at third.  He scooped it up and flipped it to Alan Wiggins at second base for the force out to end the game and the big crowd exploded.  They had done it.  Down two games to none in the best-of-five National League Championship Series, the Padres had come back to Jack Murphy Stadium to win three straight games and capture their first National League flag.

That warm, hazy day on October 7, 1984, was the pinnacle of many years of hard work by some determined people whose vision included the events of that afternoon.  But long before the wild victory celebration, there were times when the future of the game in San Diego looked very bleak.

The roots of professional baseball in San Diego go as far back as 1936, when Bill Lane moved his team, the Hollywood Stars, from Los Angeles.  Lane wanted to change the name of the team, so he held a contest.  The winning entry was “Padres”, in honor of Father Junipero Serra founding the first mission in San Diego.  The Padres played at Sports Field, later re-named Lane Field, located at the foot of Broadway along Pacific Coast Highway.  Over the years, they were one of the most successful minor league franchises around.  Players like Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams, Minnie Minoso, and Luke Easter provided many exciting moments, including the Pacific Coast League Championship in 1937, 1954 and 1967.

In 1938, Lane died, leaving the ball club to an estate which would control it for another five years.  Former Padre catcher Bill Starr then purchased the team and ran it for the next twelve years.  In 1955, Starr sold the Padres to a local banker by the name of C.Arnholt Smith.  By 1957, Lane Field had become a relic so Smith built a new facility in sparsely populated Mission Valley.  He named it Westgate Park.

In the National League, some changes were occurring that would have a big impact on the future of baseball in San Diego  In 1958, the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to California.  The two owners, Horace Stoneham of the Giants and Walter O’Malley of the Dodgers, couldn’t say no to the lure of sunshine and money, so they abandoned some of the greatest baseball fans in the world and headed west.  The Giants came to San Francisco and the Dodgers landed in Los Angeles. As the two teams established themselves in California, it was inevitable that other cities in the state would begin to show an interest in a team of their own.  San Diego was one such town.  Not only was the population growing by leaps and bounds, but the success of the PCL Padres convinced civic leaders that it was time to go big league. The 1959 baseball season saw the Dodgers beat the Chicago White Sox, four games to one, to win the World Series.  What Brooklyn fans had waited a generation to experience, the city of Los Angeles got in two years–a world championship.

News of the American League expanding to ten teams in 1961 encouraged a group of civic leaders to get serious about their efforts to obtain a team for San Diego.  There was talk of luring the Cleveland Indians to town.  They had been drawing poorly in old Municipal Stadium and were threatening to move if things didn’t improve.  Mission Bay and the city of El Cajon were proposed as potential sites for a new ball park, and Joe Cronin, President of the American League, was quoted as saying that San Diego was in strong contention for an expansion team.

When the American League formally announced that, for the first time in sixty years, it would add two new teams in 1961, San Diegans became very optimistic.  After it was announced that the Washington Senators were moving to Minnesota and expansion teams would be awarded to Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, the local contingent was disappointed but undaunted. In November, the National League proclaimed that it too would expand to ten teams, beginning in 1962.  San Diego’s hopes were rekindled. Among those in the local task force were San Diego Union sportswriters Jack Murphy and Phil Collier.  Also lending some strong support was the powerful and influential owner of the Dodgers, Walter O’Malley. In another move that could only help the city go big time, the American Football League, on February 10, 1961, gave owner Barron Hilton formal approval to move his Los Angeles Chargers to San Diego.  They would play their games in Balboa Stadium, which was being enlarged to seat 34,000 fans.

When the National League awarded expansion teams to New York and Houston for the 1962 season, San Diegans were again disappointed and a lot less optimistic about ever getting a team.  But things kept coming up that made it difficult to sweep the idea under the rug.  Important people were saying encouraging things about the city’s chances.

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