This season will mark the 10th year since Padres baseball began play downtown. It’s odd to think of Petco Park as a 10 year old park (6 new parks have opened since Petco did) because it still feels very new. Who are we kidding? It is new! Many seasons Petco Park is the best part about Padres baseball. It remains a crown jewel of baseball stadiums and a destination park for baseball fans nationwide. So as we gear up for a 10th year at Petco, I thought we’d take a moment and look back at some of the more memorable and noteworthy events to occur in the past decade at Petco Park. Without further adieu, presented in no particular order, the top 10 moments of the past 10 years.
1) Opening Day
April 8, 2004 vs San Francisco marked the first regular season MLB game played at Petco Park. Somewhat poetically, it had a little bit of everything that Petco would come to be known for. For starters, the game was 1-0 from the 3rd inning until the 9th (a low scoring Petco game, you don’t say!). The Padres took their 1-0 lead into the 9th before Trevor Hoffman blew the save and allowed the Giants to score 2 to take the lead. Sean Burroughs scored Khalil Greene on a single in the bottom half of the 9th, tying the game and pushing the game to another dubious Petco event…EXTRA INNINGS! The Giants again took the lead in the top of the 10th. But the Padres won on a walk-off single, again from Sean Burroughs, again scoring Khalil Greene, to win the game.
2) 2006 World Baseball Classic
2006 was the inaugural World Baseball Classic, and worldwide tournament that culminated with the Championship round being played at Petco Park. Despite the difficult timing of the tournament (occurring in the middle of Spring Training and thus making many MLB players either unavailable or quite rusty) the event has always been an entertaining showcase of baseball around the globe. In 2006, the final saw Cuba taking on Japan in a slugfest (Japan prevailed 10-6). Japan took a 6-5 lead into the 9th before blowing the game open with a 4 run top half of the inning. Padres fans in attendance were treated to a save opportunity from Aki Otsuka (who entered the game to “Hells Bells”) and saw Dice-K get the win.
3) Tony Gwynn Statue Unveiling
Unfortunately Tony Gwynn never played at Petco Park. But that didn’t stop the Padres from honoring him when Petco was built. The park sits on Tony Gwynn Blvd, his number sits retired atop the batters eye, and in 2007 he received perhaps the highest honor any team can give a player by unveiling the Tony Gwynn statue. If you’ve ever been to Petco Park you’ve seen it. It’s become a focal point of the Park-at-the-Park, and catches the Hall of Famer moments after lacing another single through the 5.5. hole.
4) June 7, 2007: Padres Score 5 in 9th to Beat Los Angeles
This game is perhaps more noteworthy to me than it may be to the public at-large. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the Padres scored 5 runs to erase a 5-1 deficit and beat the Dodgers. It was a bizarre 9th inning with two infield singles and an error helping the way. But mostly I remember this game for a game that I had tickets for yet they remain unused to this day. Mrs. Left Coast Bias was sick that day (not bed ridden sick but that “I don’t want to leave the apartment” sick) so we stayed home. And for 8.5 innings it seemed like a brilliant piece of chance. I mean, who wants to watch your team lose to a bitter rival? And then that 9th inning…I’ll never forget it.
5) Trevor Hoffman Sets Saves Record
The Padres finished their 2006 homestand against Pittsburgh, a half game lead in the NL West. But that was likely secondary on everyone’s mind that Saturday night when “Hell’s Bells” began echoing throughout Petco. Hoffman, with the chance to tie Lee Smith‘s record, was entering a 2-1 game. Naturally, a quick 1-2-3 inning followed, setting up the possibility that Hoffman would break the record on the last home game of the season that Sunday afternoon. To a sold out crowd, the stars aligned, and Hoffman came in in the 9th, again with a 2-1 lead. Strikeout. Strikeout. Groundout. Record book.
6) Scott Hairston Does Scott Hairston Things
For whatever reason, Scott Hairston as a Padre had a flair for the dramatic. I’m sure I’m not remembering this accurately, but I’m pretty sure all Hairston did was hit walk-off HRs. Like he did on August 3, 2007 against San Francisco. But a walk-off wasn’t possible without 8th inning heroics from…Scott Hairston. A 3-run HR took a 3-0 shutout into a tie game. After Hoffman and Bell got the game into extra-innings where Mr. Hairston was waiting for more heroics. Hairston took a full count pitch deep into LF, sending the fans home happy. You know what’s crazy about Hairston. I know I’ve been there for more than 1 walk-off HR from him. And I can’t say with any confidence whether this was one of them or not. I think it was. But then again I may be getting it confused with his others.
7) The Bee Delay
On July 2, 2009, the Padres were losing to Houston by 6 runs in the 9th. Ho-hum. Pretty dull. Kyle Blanks, a rookie at the time, was manning left field. Most of the crowd had left. But 2ooo bees were just arriving to catch the last half inning. The bees made their way from CF, settled on the abandoned jacket of the LF ball girl and caused a 52 minute delay before a beekeeper was called and cleared them out.
8) Padres vs Dodgers Two-Day Rain Delay Game
“It’s late, but it’s early.” That was how Vin Scully described the Saturday conclusion of the April 8, 2011 game between the Dodgers and Padres. Rain delays totaling more than 3.5 hours had pushed the game into the wee hours of the night/morning before a fourth rain delay and a 2-2 tie in the 9th inning caused the game to finally be called at 1:38am. The game was picked up at 5:35pm the next day where Los Angeles ultimately broke through to win, 4-2.
9) Jerry Coleman Statue Unveiling
As mentioned above, there is no other way for a team to honor their own then by with a statue. It takes a very special person, with a very special connection to a team, for a statue to be unveiled in your likeness. Jerry Coleman is such a person to the San Diego Padres. And on September 15, 2011, the Padres unveiled the Jerry Coleman statue in a pre-game ceremony. Appropriately, the statue shows Jerry Coleman in his Marine Corps pilot uniform with panels behind it depicting Coleman’s multiple careers.
”I think the greatest thing that happened to me was landing in San Diego,” said an emotional Coleman. ”I don’t know where to begin after 70 years. I don’t even remember 70 years ago.”
10) Trevor Hoffman’s Number Retired
Trevor Hoffman is the second greatest Padre. Maybe that’s not true since there’s no way to quantify that. But he’s my second favorite Padre of all-time. And despite a messy ending to his playing career in San Diego, the Padres mended bridges and honored the (then) all-time saves leader in a stirring pre-game ceremony to retire #51. It was one of, if not the best ceremony I’ve seen the Padres do. It had emotional moments, great nods to Hoffman’s career, and an unforgettable moment near the end when the Padres played rare footage of Trevor Hoffman’s father (who passed in 1995) singing the National Anthem. Forget about the room getting dusty. Tears welled up my friend. Tears. It was a perfectly fitting ceremony honoring one of the all-time greats. And a moment I will never forget.
10 moments in 10 years. I’ve left out many others that were worthy of inclusion. Sadly missing from this list? Post-season wins. Here’s hoping for some of those in the next 10 years.
Did I leave off your favorite moment? Or have one that you think deserves inclusion? Mention it below in the comments. But don’t Tweet me this weekend @LeftCoastBias. I’m busy watching Arizona begin their march to Dallas. Bear Down.