Yesterday’s News, Today: The Sporting News (4/28/86)

As you know by now, I am a strange human being who collects a ridiculous amount of Padres memorabilia. Next to bobbleheads, old magazines, programs, media guides and newspaper articles are probably my next favorite thing to collect. The old ads are fascinating. Flip to any page and the odds of landing on a beer or cigarette ad are pretty solid. What player was being highly touted at that time and did they ever pan out? And the vintage pictures are a blast.

I thought I’d do a new little segment here where I occasionally browse through one of those items and share some stuff with you.

When I was at the SABR garage sale, I came across this Sporting News from April 28th, 1986. I noticed the Padres on the cover and was really interested in reading up about this “Team Turmoil” that they were speaking of.

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We all know what the Padres did in 1984 but our story starts the following year, in 1985. The Padres went 83-79 that year and finished 3rd in the NL West, 12 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. The ’85 Padres had a team high 7 All-Stars (Steve Garvey, Goose Gossage, Tony Gwynn, LaMarr Hoyt, Terry Kennedy, Graig Nettles & Garry Templeton), which is a record that still stands to this day. They even spent a considerable amount of time in first place. In fact with the exception of the retiring Kurt Bevacqua it appeared that most of the roster would be returning in 1986 as well. And then the off-season happened.

October 23rd – With only 1 year remaining on his contract, Padres manager Dick Williams asked the Padres for an extension. Padres President Ballard Smith (Joan Kroc’s son-in-law) declines. Williams decides to honor his contract and manage his final year.

October 30th – But wait a minute. Williams changed his mind and wants out. Smith asked him to reconsider and think about it. Williams does so.

Early November – Smith and Padres General Manager Jack McKeon come to a decision that if Williams isn’t returning then they don’t want the 3rd base Coach Ozzie Virgil to return either. Virgil is buddies with Williams.

Late November – McKeon calls up Virgil while he’s coaching in Venezuela and says “I don’t think you’ll be back in 1986 because I don’t think Williams will be returning. This isn’t final. I’m just telling you this now in case you want to look for another coaching job”.

Early December – Virgil’s wife contacts anyone with ties to the media in San Diego and says that her husband has been fired. The media runs with it and also announce that Smith and McKeon want to buy out the final year of Williams’ contract.

December 3rd – Joan Kroc wakes from her apparent slumber and is shocked by everything she has recently read. She is a huge Williams fan and demands that Smith and McKeon, who is also in his final year of his contract, to rehire Virgil. She also says that if they want to buy out the last year of Williams’ contract then “They’ll have to use their own money because they’re not using mine.”

December 6th – It’s time for a Big Mac Summit, or a “Tea Summit” as they call it with McKeon, Smith, Kroc and Williams. They hold a news conference where they announce that Williams AND Virgil will be returning in 1986.

(I’m getting exhausted just reading about all of this…but it somehow gets better)

Late January – Padres coach Harry Dunlap is removed from his job and given a spot coaching in the Minor Leagues. Williams told him “I’ve got to get rid of you because you’re Jack’s man”.

February 10th – Padres pitcher Hoyt is arrested at the border on drug related charges.

February 18th – Hoyt is arrested yet again for drugs.

February 20th – Kroc, Williams and his lawyers secretly meet up again and agree that Williams won’t be returning after all. During this meeting Smith was far away in Sydney, Australia for a McDonald’s opening. Both him and McKeon are unaware of this meeting or the decision made.

February 23rd – It’s the day before the start of Spring Training and Williams and Virgil are noticeably absent.

February 24th – McKeon gets a call from Smith to turn on the TV. Kroc and Williams are on there announcing that he won’t be returning. Smith and McKeon are stunned. Kroc and Williams end the conference with a smooch for the cameras.

February 25th – Steve Boros is announced as the new manager and he immediately brings back Dunlap.

February 26th – Garvey blasts Williams publicly.

February 28th – Hoyt goes into rehab

What an insane turn of events. Drugs, kissing, Venezuela, backstabbing and Garvey? This story has it all! Despite all of this the Padres still somehow started out the season 7-3 and were sitting atop the NL West when the article was written. As you know now, the 1986 team didn’t do much after that, finishing in 4th place, 22 games back. It would be the only season in which Boros managed the Padres as Larry Bowa would take over the following season. Hoyt would miss all of Spring Training but return on April 20th. He struggled throughout the entire season and shortly after the season was arrested yet again at the border with drugs. The Padres released him shortly after that and the White Sox would pick him up. After getting arrested yet again, MLB had enough and his career was over.

There’s also an article in this issue with Hoyt’s account of the arrests. In it, he denies being a “recovering addict” or “alcoholic” and just said that he went to rehab because he didn’t think he’d be allowed to play baseball if he didn’t go. When speaking about the first arrest he said that the drugs they found on him were only a couple joints and a couple Valium pills that were prescribed for him. Apparently it was reported in the media that he had 3 grams of marijuana, 79 Valium pills and 46 Quaaludes. He wanted to go public and say that it wasn’t true but his agent advised him to keep quiet.

A quick search online and I really can’t find what Hoyt has been up to lately. But I did find this video of him that the White Sox shot last season.

Beer/Cigarette/Alcohol Ads: Only 3? (Miller Lite on page 3, Seagrams on page 26-27 and Vantage Cigarettes on the back cover)

Other Articles:

Ed Whitson will now only be pitching road games for the Yankees because the fans booed him too much at home and threatened him and his family? A baseball reference search says that it didn’t happen, but apparently it was going to happen.

-Arby’s had a promotion where it would give a free roast beef sandwich to Padres ticket stub holders when the Padres won by one run. Less than a month in they had 5 one run wins in the books resulting in 156,739 free sandwiches. That’s a lot of Phils Arby sauce!

-Padres relief pitcher Gene Walter impressed players, managers and even Pete Rose. Walter would only play in 2 more seasons after 1986.

-There’s an ad for “Pro MLB Caps” for $15.00 each and Pro MLB jerseys for $80.00 each.

*Dave Nightingale was the author of both the Team Turmoil and LaMarr Hoyt articles discusses here

Thoughts on this series? Anything more you’d like to see? Is it a crappy idea? Let me know in the comments.

Rick posts as RJ’s Fro at Padres Public every Thursday….unless it’s not Thursday.
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  • ballybunion

    I remember ’86 and the Hoyt bust, because Alan Wiggins got busted the year before, and I thought, oh, no, not again! Then Grandal got busted at the end of 2012 and Cabrera got busted in mid-2013, and I used a whole lot of different words I can’t repeat here. So I have mixed feelings about these flashbacks.

    • SDPads1

      I’m hoping not all the flashbacks will be negative.

  • It just seems like such a typical tale from the Padres’ past. And I would never trust a GM named “Ballard”.

    • SDPads1

      Ballard was the President…but still….Ballard?

  • GoldenBoy

    Talk about some drama. With all of the MLB drug issues of that time, it’s interesting that the Mets won the World Series in ’86, of all teams. Dykstra, Gooden, Strawberry, Keith Hernandez.. these guys weren’t exactly known for their clean living.

    • SDPads1

      Add to that Raines and the Pittsburgh drug trial….yikes, it was a rough few years for baseball.