That Seminal Moment

This week is Fan Fest preview/reminisce week here.  I’d like to regale you with my favorite stories about the event … except I can’t, because I’ve never actually been to Friar Fest.

Ut Oh.  Finding something to write about just got that much harder.

I thought about detailing how long I’ve been a Padres fan, some of the fun moments I’ve experienced at the ball park, to validate my bona fides.  It’s a long list; maybe I’ll tackle it someday.  However whenever I get to thinking about the Padres, I find myself fishing around for that one moment – that one super cool baseball moment – that’s burned into all our memories, that everybody can relate to.  Do the Padres even have one like that?

For example.  Insufferable Red Sox fans spend a lot of time talking about the 2004 playoffs, specifically Dave Roberts’ steal of second base.  Seattle fans can rally around Ken Griffey Jr’s mad dash home to win Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS.  Cardinal fans get all giddy remembering David Freese’s triple to tie Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.  What have we got?  Garvey’s HR in 1984?  That was great, but Ol’ Steve’s remembered as a Dodger by most around these parts.  Maybe Kurt Bevacqua’s 3-run shot in Game 2 of the World Series that year is the one.  Maybe something more recent.  Maybe you could share your thoughts in the comments.

When I try to come up with that one moment, I always return to the eighth inning of Game 3 of the 1996 NLDS.  Partially because I was there.  But mostly because of Ken Caminiti.  That, of course, was Cammy’s greatest year.  He seemingly could do anything.  He hit 2 home runs in a game in Monterrey Mexico after receiving an IV and eating a Snickers bar.  In this particular game, Ken had already homered to give the Padres an early 3-1 lead, but the Cardinals had fought back, and led 5-4 late.  Caminiti leads off the eighth against Rick Honeycutt.

The Murph was packed that night, one of the few times I went to a game there where it was full.  As Caminiti walked to the plate you could feel the buzz, the electricity in the stands.  It wasn’t a tense ‘hey we’re going to lose this game’ buzz we’ve kind of gotten used to the last 5 years – not even close.  It was a ‘Cammy’s going to hit it out here’ buzz.  I’m dead serious.  Fifty-three thousand plus filled the stands that October night, and other than St Louis Cardinals wifes/girlfriends/mistresses, every one of us knew Ken Caminiti was about to tie the game up. 

Caminiti fell behind 0-1, then rocketed the next pitch towards the right-center field seats.  There was no doubt that ball was leaving the building. The sound that erupted from those of us watching might have helped push it out, but that ball didn’t need it.  Tie game.  The stands dissolved into a mass of delirious fans yelling, laughing, hi-fiving, spilling beer everywhere – it was beautiful.  No one sat down while the new Cardinal pitcher warmed up, and we didn’t quiet down, either.

I’ll skip the rest of that game.  Once it was over, the Padres came back onto the field to thank the fans – led by Caminiti.

I know – in the three examples I mentioned above, those teams went on to win those games.  Caminiti’s feat didn’t do that for San Diego on this night.  Doesn’t matter to me.  It remains one of my favorite Padres memories.

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  • ItsDis

    Same kind of thing for me: 1998 NLCS Game 5, where Brown took the loss and Maddux ended up with a save. Same thing; fans were ecstatic and supportive during the ninth inning comeback that fell short, but the atmosphere was amazing even in a loss.

  • Jefe

    I was at Game 3 in ’96. Not since ’84 had there been a postseason game at the Murph, but the energy was the same as it was back then. Already down 2-0 to the Cards it just felt like a repeat of ’84 was coming – and after Cammy’s home run in the eighth I was sure of it. Then Brian Jordan happened, and that was that. But we stayed all the way and were there when the Padres came back out led by Cammy – the Cardinals had their quick on-field celebration and then left for the clubhouse to carry on, leaving the field to our boys and us fans. To this day, I thank the Cards for getting off the field quickly so we could have our goodbyes to that season and that beloved team.

  • Jefe

    My short list of seminal Padre Moments-
    1) 1984 NLCS down 0-2 — I was there with thousands at the Murph when the team came home to a fan ‘rally’ (putting it mildly) in the parking lot. I’m convinced that night changed the course of the series and Padre baseball since. The team was shocked to see us there yelling and cheering — it was a epiphany to them as well as us – we could be (and still are) passionate about our team – and boy did they respond.
    2) Game 3 of the ’84 NLCS — before Garvey did his thing, there had to be a Game 3 to get us there. 50,000 plus fans (including me – for the only time that postseason) raising hell in the stands — and during the team introductions when Tempy took off his cap and waved it emphatically at the crowd it ignited every one of us there and let all of us know that it was ON…they came out firing to an easy win.
    i’m sure i’ll come up with more.

  • Good stuff here. In my short time here (2007 was my first season covering the team), I have to mention Game 163. Set aside/forget the Holliday stuff (please?) and think about where that Scott Hairston home run would have ranked in franchise lore had the outcome been different.

    • Sandy Alderson would have retired the number 12?

    • 1) Steve Garvey (as much as it pains me)
      2) Hairston…had they won. I don’t think there is one singular baseball game that I remember as clearly as I remember that game. Unfortunately.

  • He might be remembered as a Dodger, and certainly doesn’t deserve that 6 on the wall for it, but I think you have to go with Garvey’s HR in Game 2 of the NLCS. (I actually saw that in-person as a 10-year-old.)

    Runner up: Chris Gwynn’s game-winning hit to clinch the division in 1996.

    2nd runner up: Sut wandering into the broadcasting booth while wasted and rambling on about George Clooney and asking Matty V what he was still doing there.

  • Leyritz’s bottom of the 7th homerun off Scott Elarton in ’98 is up there for me. Gave us a 2-1 lead in that series, setting up my favorite Padres quote of all-time:
    “They said we couldn’t beat Johnson twice in a five-game series. Well, we beat him twice in a four-game series.”

  • Being a younger out of town fan, I haven’t been lucky enough to witness many great moments in person. The one I was lucky enough to see was Steve Finley’s grand slam in 1998. Two outs, bottom of the 9th! Dream stuff!

    • Melvin

      What’s that, ~14 years of fanhood? that’s pretty good man.

  • Its funny, when I am honest with myself about the moments I remember most, they are not at all that positive, nor necessarily just “moments”: (In no particular order).

    1) Everything Sterling Hitchcock did in the playoffs in 1998. I had never seen a pitcher dominate like that with my own eyes except a few times by Browny and Peavy. His confidence and left handed awesomeness stymied every batter in Houston, and Atlanta.

    2) Tony Gwynns Home Run Game 1 of the World Series. Though it is obviously arguable that the 1 victory we had in the 1984 World Series was the high point of the franchise. I’ll make an argument that Tony Gwynns Home Run in Game 1 of the 1998 world series was the actual high point for the franchise. We were not down any games, it gave us a commanding lead. For a small moment in time, it seemed that Tony Gwynn was going to will us passed one of the best Yankee teams of all time for our first World Championship in anything. I remember tingling from head to toe and tearing up at that moment. That moment was magic.

    3) The Back to Back to Back to Back Homer Game in (2006?). We were supposed to win that game, and then the combination of Hoffman and some other guy that had a decent year coughed up a homerpolozza in Dodgerville.

    4) Watching Carlos Hernandez homer off Randy Johnson in an interleague game. It was a misty mid-day interleague game. Johnson was dominating, and his pitches seemed so fast that I swear I could not see 1/2 of them. Mariners were only up by 2. Carlos Hernandez belted a solo shot to bring us within 1. We never so much as touched the ball after that.

    5) Every moment of the 2010 season. It seems odd considering that I have watched more games than I have missed every season since 1996 (except last year, thanks Time Warner Cable). But there was no team more fun to watch. We were supposed to be terrible, but we somehow managed to win 90 games. The 10 game losing streak was the most painful thing to watch, but it seemed that our formula was actually going to work, for a brief glimmer of time.

  • For me, it’s Tony’s 3000th hit. I was on my way to the park to watch it at the stadium on the big screens with thousands of other fans, and of course we ran late and missed it. But still, the greatest Padre’s greatest accomplishment is my top moment.

  • LynchMob

    For me, it’s gotta be a Tony Gwynn moment … and that’s his GWRBI “smash” in Game 5 of the 1984 NLDS … … and Tony’s HR in 1998 WS … and his 3000th hit are close 2nd and 3rd …

    Sure appreciate Michelle Rose for this comment:: “certainly doesn’t deserve that 6 on the wall for it” … if Padres Public wants a “cause”, I nominate getting that #6 down 🙂

    And I *very* much appreciate @disqus_eWEIUVUYGk:disqus for the observation about Tempy’s pre-game cap wave … I felt at the time that that was a series-changing event I will never forget!

  • LynchMob

    Oh, and also worth mentioning is what Nate Colbert did on Aug 1, 1972 …

    … 5 HRs in one day is a sweet feat! Still in the records books (!

  • I saw the Gwynn HR in game 1 of the ’98 series in Oggi’s Pizza in Carmel Mountain Ranch back when it was called Stuft Pizza or some non-sense. As the bar erupted I never felt so much collective excitement and optimism in my life.

    I was also in Yankee Stadium when Chase Headley hit his 1st HR. And I witnessed Adam Eaton’s debut. Witnessed! I loved Adam Eaton.

    • And I’ll reply to myself . . . I missed Gwynn’s run at .400 in ’94, the fantastic ’96 team led my Caminiti, and Gwynn’s equally impressive ’97 season, all due to college. Damn!

  • 1996, I was in attendance at Dodger Stadium for both the Friday and Saturday games. Friday was Caminiti with HRs in the 8th and 10th I believe, an incredible game, but not the moment for me. The moment for me came on Saturday, when the Dodgers again could have clinched the division but did not. Hideo Nomo pitched brilliantly for LA but was matched by Andy Ashby and Tim Worrell. The game was tied at two in the eighth when with the bases loaded and two outs, Bill Russell brought in Mark Guthrie to pitch to Tony Gwynn. Everyone in the stadium knew what was going to happen, and yet it happened, as Gwynn punched it through an even smaller than usual 5.5 hole (Wallach was cheating off the line) and gave the Padres a 4-2 lead and the win. My ultimate Gwynn-being-Gwynn moment.

  • SDPads1

    The Hairston bomb would have been HUGE in Padres folklore…..had we actually won that game. I remember living in a condo at the time, watching the game by myself, cheering & yelling like crazy and then hearing tons of other people cheering like crazy in their respective condos too. I felt like I finally might have something to talk about with to all these strangers. Then “stuff” happened and no one EVER mentioned that game again and we all continued being strangers who would politely nod at each other on the sidewalk but never talk to each other again.

  • For me, he two things that stand out the most are sweeping the Dodgers at the end of ’96 and the end of the ’98 World Series. I wasn’t at the Cardinals game in ’96, although the rest of my family was (had to work.) During the sweep weekend in 1996, I was working in Santa Ana/Irvine, so I was a lone Padre fan in a sea of Dodger rooters… one of whom lovingly scrawled obscenities in lipstick on my windshield before leaving that Sunday night. *grin* And after game 4, the feeling of shared love and pride when the boys came back out to Green Day and the Yankee fans stood around and stared with a “Don’t they know they lost?” look on their faces.

  • Also, T Gwynns last game, where Rickey dropped a trademark bloop double for his 3K. He and Tony stood as teammates with 3K hits for that one day.

  • Curtis

    How about Ben Davis’ bunt single to break up Curt Schilling’s perfect game

  • Axion

    beating the braves was always cool

  • Game 5 of the 1998 World Series. It was fantastic. I had tickets, all fired up to go, and, wait, what?