Steve Garvey Is Not My Padre…And Who Cares?

Last week, Steve Garvey was listed as one of 12 candidates on the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Expansion Era” ballot. A 16-member committee comprised of existing Hall of Famers, executives, and a mix of baseball writers and historians will select some or none of the men on the list to be enshrined in Cooperstown in 2014. If Garvey is selected, he would go in as a Los Angeles Dodger. This sparked another round of the time-honored debate amongst Padres fans about the number 6 on the batter’s eye at Petco Park. It’s tired, but let’s talk about it anyway!

There’s an urban legend amongst Padres fans that Steve Garvey’s number was never officially retired by the Padres, that the “6” was placed on the outer wall at Jack Murphy Stadium to commemorate the home run from game 4 of the 1984 NLCS. It’s a story myself and many others are guilty of having perpetuated. Friend of the program, Jeremy Nash, set me straight on the issue. Take a look at this LA Times article. Here’s the important part:

The Padres paid Steve Garvey the ultimate tribute, making him the first man in the club’s history to have his number retired.

Keith Moreland had worn No. 6 ever since he entered the major leagues 10 years ago, but he gave it up in a pregame ceremony on Steve Garvey Night and switched to No. 7.

After the club president, Chub Feeney, announced that Garvey’s number would never be worn by another Padre, Moreland charged out of the dugout and presented Garvey with a framed picture of Padre jersey No. 6.

 

There’s Chub Feeney, flipping you the bird. I hate it, you probably hate it, but it’s a fact: LA Dodger Steve Garvey’s number 6 is the first number in Padres history to be retired. It was an attempt by a young ballclub with little success to make themselves look a little more important by spotlighting the biggest moment in their brief history. The Padres aren’t the only club to have done this…but, yeah, it looks a little small time. The big issue isn’t recognizing what Garvey and his home run meant to San Diego, but what San Diego meant to Garvey compared to the team most Padres fans love to hate. To use a tired cliche: Garvey bleeds Dodger blue.

 

The Dodgers have 10 retired numbers, adhering to a strict policy of only retiring numbers of players who have been elected to the Hall of Fame (the lone exception being coach Jim Gilliam, whose number was retired prior to game 1 of the 1978 World Series, after passing away shortly prior). Names like Garvey, Valenzuela, Hodges, Lopes, Newcombe, and Hershiser do not have their numbers retired. Newcombe, Valenzuela and Garvey would have likely had their numbers retired by most any other club, by now. If Garvey is elected to the Hall of Fame, his number will be retired by the Dodgers.

 

It's hard to hate this.

It’s hard to hate this.

 

In a perfect world, 6 never would have been retired by the Padres. However…if the Padres retiring Garvey’s number was an example of a small-time decision made in desperation, wouldn’t un-retiring the number be a bit of a sad move made in enmity? Would two small-time decisions make a right? There aren’t many examples of numbers being un-retired in sports. Sometimes they’re un-retired for a star player who didn’t switch numbers when moving to a new club in their twilight years (i.e. Peyton Manning in Denver and Jerry Rice in Seattle), when a team un-retires EVERY number and comes up with another way to honor former players (Michigan football), or the Washington Nationals un-retiring numbers when they moved from Montreal. The Padres would be setting a precedent that would, frankly, be rather embarrassing. Haven’t we had more than our fill of that?

 

As always, you’re free to form your own opinion. I used to be someone who vehemently supported taking down the 6 on the batter’s eye, and I still don’t like it. You can take a look at the list of MLB retired numbers and maybe feel a little better about Garvey? There are some odd choices by some teams. At the very  least, let’s be thankful Garvey wasn’t named a vice president of whatever while he’s proudly out wearing another club’s uniform.

 

The Vocal Minority posts on Mondays. Neither of us has been subject to paternity suits, hosted infomercials, been sued over said infomercials, or had our numbers retired by the San Diego Padres. At the very least, David doesn’t have absurdly manly forearms. This makes him sad, so follow him on Twitter.

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  • Nope, there are no perfect choices here. It would be petty to activate the number, even if The Garv goes in to Cooperstown wearing blue.

    • ballybunion

      What if he goes in to the HOF and the Dodgers retire his number? They’d
      be stepping on SD’s toes, so the dignified thing to do would be to
      un-retire the number here so he’s remembered strictly as a Dodger, you
      know, to clear things up. Has any other player had his number retired on two different teams? If not, that’s the hook to get that 6 off the wall.

      • so the dignified thing to do would be to
        un-retire the number here so he’s remembered strictly as a Dodger

        If you want to look like a punk to Dodger fans, you do that.

      • ballybunion

        ALL Padres fans ALREADY look like punks to Dodgers fans – and the feeling is mutual! When McCourt fired Garvey for getting involved with a potential bidder, Garvey himself said, “I am, always have been and always will be a Dodger.” It would be appropriate to let the Dodgers have him to themselves.

  • Scott

    I bet you were loving Garvey when he hit that homer to put the Pad’s in the series, weren’t you?

  • Shaqapopolis

    The Marlins un-retired # 5 to give to Logan Morrison. It was originally retired for the their first president of the club or what not who was a huge DiMaggio fan. There was quite the backlash, but what does Loria care anyway.

    Having said that, I just turned 11 when Garvey hit that homer and that was quite a special event for a team that was terrible for the previous 15 years. Should they have retired it? Probably not, but what’s done is done and it would look petty if they un-retired it. Give Garvey his due for helping put the Padres on the map. If it makes you feel any better, I recall a channel 8 interview with him after signing and him talking about how he wanted to stick it to the Dodgers, so he does have that going for him.

  • Jefe

    It was a mistake to retire #6. I was 16 years old in ’84, and, yes, Game 4 changed sports in this town forever, but you can’t retire a number because of one game. It would be an even bigger mistake to unretire it however. When #51 was retired, Garv was there coming in from the outfield with Randy, Dave, and Tony. Steve Garvey may see himself as a Dodger first and foremost, but for me he’s still the one who hit that home run and kept that magical October going. I see no reason to disrespect him or that memory now.

  • Nathan Veale

    My forearms are fairly hairy, but much too thin to be considered very manly. For the record.

  • Change the Padres

    I, too, think it’s pathetic that a franchise would retire a number for a player who’s a legend on your chief rival simply because of a homerun that didn’t win the World Series. But the Padres were pathetic prior to that NL Pennant. Basically as pathetic as the present-day Padres.

    Let’s not forget that Dave Winfield had recently left the Padres because they didn’t “show me they’re serious about making this a respectable team, a winner.” and they were, at the time, the losing-est franchise in the history of Major League Baseball. If this happens anywhere else, it’s both baffling and a reach. In San Diego, it is slightly less so in both categories.

    That said, if I had sole control over whose numbers were and weren’t retired, there’d be only two: 19 and 51, with Winfield a very borderline ‘no’ based on the way he left.

  • Shamu35

    Nice article. I say leave 6 retired but it has to be located away from the other retired numbers in the virtual spot where the home run would’ve gone out if it were at Petco

  • SDPads1

    “At the very least, let’s be thankful Garvey wasn’t named a vice
    president of whatever while he’s proudly out wearing another club’s
    uniform.”

    I see what you did there.

  • SDPads1

    Leave it retired. What’s done is done.

    BUT un-retiring a number has happened before in San Diego. This tidbit is courtesy of the great Bob Chandler during one of our Beers with Bob segments a few years back when we were discussing this exact topic. The Chargers retired Ron Mix’s #74 right after he quit playing (1969). But in 1971 he came out of retirement and went to play with the hated Raiders for one season. His number was then un-retired and was never retired again.

    • VM David

      Interesting.

      Speaking of NFL teams…they are less-inclined to retire numbers due to the sheer volume of players, instead opting for having a “Ring of Honor” and saving retired numbers for truly special players. I’d love to see an MLB team go that route.

      • SDPads1

        Yeah when you have a roster of 472 guys (give or take) retiring numbers severely limits your options.

    • Lonnie Brownell

      So all we have to do is to get The Garv to un-retire himself and sign with another team (preferably the Dogers), and then his number can be un-retired too.

      Sounds like a plot summary of an “I Love Lucy” episode.

      • SDPads1

        And at one point chaos will ensue and you’ll have to eat a whole bunch of chocolates.

      • Lonnie Brownell

        And you, being Ricky, will say “Garvey…you got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

  • padresfansince1969

    If you know me, you know I’m a big proponent of “get the #6 off the wall” …

    Does that mean “unretire it”? No … I do understand that to be a classless move … as VM David says, that would make “2 wrongs” …

    So … options?

    I wrote Steve Garvey a letter … and handed it to him personally when he was signing autographs at Tony’s HOF induction in Cooperstown in 2007 … he didn’t like my idea, we didn’t really discuss it much (which I assumed would be the case, which is why I wrote the letter), so I just assumed he didn’t really ever consider it (yes, shocking, I know :-)) … but it’s still the best I’ve got …

    The key is he needs to request whatever change happens … he can request it be unretired … or, my personal favorite is that he request the “6” be replaced by “1984” on the wall (so as to honor that entire 1984 NL championship team!

    I see it as win-win … he becomes more of a hero in both San Diego and LA … he gets to do something very unselfish … wouldn’t that help his image?

    My idea in 2007 was that the ideal time to do this would have been during 2009, as part of a celebration of the 25th anniv of the 1984 team …

    I was at the 1984 NLCS games 4 and 5 … yes, I cheered for Garvey’s HR … there would be a Game 5 … and it was bittersweet even in the moment … I never liked having Garvey on the Padres … Not only was he a Dodger, he wasn’t as good of a player as everyone thought/assumed he was … simple as that.

    THANKS for the post … I do appreciate any and every time this topic comes up … it may lead to a change … and any change would be a good change.