One of the better Padres promotions for this season will happen on 24 May, as part of the 1984 NL Championship team celebrations (and, appropriately, against the vanquished Cubs). Replica Retro Jersey Night motivated me to buy tickets and bring the family. During Media Preview Night, a couple of the jerseys were on display (from the Padres website, via Gaslamp Ball):
Word on the street is Garvey and Whitson jerseys will also be available. This is tough – who do you choose? Let’s break it down.
#6 – Steve Garvey
a. HISTORY – Signed by the Padres as a free agent, 12/21/82. Broke the National League consecutive games played record while playing for San Diego. Has arguably the biggest hit in Padres history, a 3-run HR to win 1984 NLCS Game 4 over Chicago. He was released after the 1987 season and never played in the majors again. His number was the first retired by the Padres (1989).
b. DISCUSSION – No one is more polarizing to the Padres fan base than Garvey. In 2008 he was ranked by SI as the 15th best free-agent signing of all time, meaning he’s considered a key piece of the NL Championship team. He was a part of the first truly great San Diego team, and that HR mentioned above is his legacy. But, he was a horrible defensive first baseman by the time he came to San Diego, and progressively got worse. He contributed somewhere between 1.3 (bWAR) and 1.6 (fWAR) TOTAL as a Padre. He doesn’t crack the top 50 Padres by WAR, or the top 50 Padres by WAR derived solely from offensive production. He was a Dodger before moving south, worked for the Dodgers after his playing days were over, and tried to put an ownership group together to buy the team from McCourt. Post-career he had other ‘issues’ that have tarnished his legacy.
c. VERDICT. Are you a philanderer? Closet #Doger fan? Want maximum points on the ‘I don’t give a f___’ scale? This is the jersey for you.
#9 – Graig Nettles
a. HISTORY – He went to San Diego HS and played at San Diego State, where he attended on a basketball scholarship. He came to the Padres via trade on the eve of the 1984 season; San Diego sent Dennis Rasmussen and Darin Cloninger to the Yankees. Nettles played 3 seasons in his hometown, and was an All-Star in 1985. He was released following the 1986 season; he played parts of 2 more seasons, then retired.
b. DISCUSSION – Graig is the only player ever with the first name ‘Graig’ which, I think, is a cool useless fact. Despite only playing 3 seasons in America’s Finest City, he’s tied for 45th best offensive Padre (by bWAR) with Sean Burroughs. OK, so maybe not a ringing endorsement, but not bad for a guy near the end of his career. “Puff” is his nickname, meaning he’s either a cigar smoker or a lover of imaginary dragons. Who could have a problem with that? He also played a prominent role in the famous San Diego Padres vs Pascual Perez game on 8/12/84, tackling Donnie Moore after Moore beaned him. A wholly appropriate response, if you ask me.
Nettles is also remembered as one of the best defensive third baseman of all time, and briefly held the AL record for career HR by a third baseman.
c. VERDICT. Local kid made good. Played in a World Series representing his hometown team. This is an inspired choice for the diehard fan trying to be a little different.
#18 – Kevin McReynolds
a. HISTORY – Kevin was the Padres #1 pick (sixth overall) in the 1981 amateur draft, taken just after Matt Williams and just before Daryl Boston. You know who else was drafted in that round? Mark Grant. Promoted in September 1983, McReynolds played three full seasons in San Diego, finishing 17th in the 1984 MVP voting. After the 1986 season he was traded, along with two other players, to the New York Mets for three guys you’ve never heard of, plus Shawn Abner and Kevin Mitchell. He spent another 8 years in the majors, retiring after the 1994 season.
b. DISCUSSION – Boy the club took apart that NL Championship team within three years, didn’t they? McReynolds came to the team with lofty expectations, considering he was a first round draft pick barely 2 years before. His 1984 effort ties him for 19th best, by WAR, for a position player (with Nate Colbert‘s 1972 campaign). His Career WAR is 14th best in Padres history (tied with Bip Roberts). A short stint with the club, but he didn’t disappoint those expecting big things from him. He makes some fans nostalgic for what could have been had he remained with the club instead of being shipped off to NY. Being a Padre fan is not for the faint of heart.
c. VERDICT. Mrs. Trail’s non-Gwynn jersey choice. Summer springs eternal, with the promise of what the future can bring.
#19 – Tony Gwynn
a. HISTORY – I need to explain the history to you? Really? Get the Garvey jersey and shut up.
b. DISCUSSION – Most likely will be the highest demand jersey on 5/24, and rightly so. Tony Gwynn is the Padres.
c. VERDICT. You should own at least one thing bearing Tony’s likeness, name, or number. If you don’t yet, here’s your chance.
#31 – Ed Whitson
a. HISTORY – Acquired initially via trade with the Cleveland Indians on 11/18/82. San Diego sent Juan Eichelberger and Broderick Perkins to Ohio. Whitson was mediocre in 1983 but a 14-game winner for the NL Champs. He also started the big comeback in the NLCS with a 5-hit victory against the Cubs in Game 3. Whitson started the only World Series game this franchise has ever won; he got a no-decision. After the 1984 series he signed with the Yankees as a free agent. It didn’t go well. Midway through 1986 he was traded back to the Padres for Tim Stoddard. He was a fixture in the Padres starting rotation for the next 4 years. His best two seasons by ERA+ were 1989 and 1990; he went 30-20 combined and threw over 450 innings those two seasons. He appeared in only 13 games in 1991 and called it a career after that.
b. DISCUSSION – Whitson is probably best known for two fights. The first is that 1984 brawl, which led to this screen capture:
Who knows, you might get his actual jersey from that day! The other is an altercation with volatile Yankees manager Billy Martin in 1985, after Martin skipped over Whitson’s turn in the rotation. This was the last of a long line of stressful events that befell Ed that season. Martin emerged with a broken arm; Ed suffered a cracked rib and a split lip.
As a Padre, Whitson may not be as well remembered as some other members of the 1984 staff like Craig Lefferts or Andy Hawkins. But, he ranks better on the career lists than many may realize. He’s fourth in franchise history in wins (77). His 16-win 1989 campaign is tied for 8th best by a Padre. His career 1.229 WHIP is 9th best. He has the third-lowest career BB/9, and his 1354.1 innings pitched are third-most by a Padre. Finally, his 1990 season ERA+ of 148 is the 1oth best season posted by a Padres pitcher and seventh-best by a starter.
C. VERDICT. Cantankerous. Defiant. Stood by teammates and protected family. Also, the only pitcher option offered, so if you want to honor a guy who threw strikes for a living, you can.
I post on Tuesdays and occasionally other times. Being a Padre fan is not for the faint of heart.