It’s about to get nostalgic up in Petco Park as the Padres celebrate the 30th anniversary of their first World Series appearance this weekend.
They host the Chicago Cubs – the team they beat in the National League Championship Series back in 1984.
Friday night, the team will be having a “brownout” at the park and Saturday will be a retro jersey giveaway. There are sure to be many former players on hand to celebrate. For fans who remember that team, it will be a great chance to relive memories of a magical season.
Current manager Bud Black was a pitcher with a Royals team that also made the playoffs that season. He remembers scouting the Padres that year, just in case they met in the World Series.
“The thing that stood out for me is they had really solid veteran players who had been through it before,” Black said. “You go down the list of guys on that team, what a group. It was a group that had a lot of fun.”
The team featured Tony Gwynn just coming into his prime, leading the league with 213 hits and a .351 batting average while striking out miniscule 23 times all season. Speedster Alan Wiggins stole 70 bases that year – and was also caught a league-high 21 times. And nobody will forget Steve Garvey doing it all – including playing the role of hero in that series.
Then there were pitchers like Eric Show and Ed Whitson, who never became household names but never missed starts and always kept the team in games. And anybody who saw Goose Gossage pitch wouldn’t forget it.
They played a Cubs team making its first postseason appearance in nearly 40 years that many Chicago fans thought was a team of destiny. They boasted NL MVP Ryne Sandberg and Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe. Of course, this is the Cubs we’re talking about, so you knew they would find a way to lose.
The series started off horribly for the men in brown. The Cubs put up six runs in the fifth inning and cruised to a 13-0 rout in Game 1. After another loss at Wrigley the next day (no night games back then) the Padres found themselves facing elimination heading back to Jack Murphy Stadium.
They got a great outing from Whitson in Game 3, breaking the game open late to win 7-1.
Then came Garvey’s Game 4 heroics. After the Cubs rallied to tie it in the eighth, Garvey sent the San Diego crowd in a state of bedlam with a walk-off homer to right field that forced a deciding Game 5.
Leading 3-0 in the finale, the Cubs blew it in a way only the Cubs can. That fateful seventh inning will always be ingrained in Chicago fans’ memories. First baseman Leon Durham’s error on a Tim Flannery ground ball started a four-run rally that led to a 5-3 Padres win and put him in Cubs infamy with names like Bartman and the Billy Goat.
The Padres went on to lose the World Series to the Tigers, but it doesn’t take away from the memories so many fans have of that magical season.
As for this year, here’s a quick preview of the upcoming series with the Cubs.
Thursday, 7:10 p.m.: Eric Stults (2-4, 4.50 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (0-0, 2.70)
Friday, 7:10 p.m.: Padres starter TBA (Robbie Erlin was placed on the disabled list today) vs. Edwin Jackson (3-3, 3.98)
Saturday, 7:10 p.m.: Donn Roach (1-0, 3.75) vs. Travis Wood (4-4, 4.61)
Sunday, 1:10 p.m.: Ian Kennedy (2-6, 3.79) vs. Jason Hammel (5-2, 2.91)
What’s at stake: The Padres are licking their wounds after losing three straight, including a pair at home to the Minnesota Twins. Fortunately, they get a Cubs team with the worst record in the National League. Already 10 ½ games out, the Cubs are looking toward next year – again. The Padres better win a few this weekend or they will be that much closer to doing the same.
Who to watch:
Padres: Big surprise, Seth Smith had three more hits on Wednesday. His assault on opposing pitchers has been astounding. He is 13 for his last 30 and is now hitting .339 on the season, good for second place in all of baseball. Don’t look now, but Jedd Gyorko quietly has four hits in his last four games. He’s still mired in a season-long slump, but showing signs of busting out. And keep an eye on Saturday starter Donn Roach, who is filling in for the injured Andrew Cashner. His first career start went well enough last week that he gets another shot on Saturday.
Cubs: Shortstop Starlin Castro had been on a tear before going 0-for-6 on Wednesday. He had nine hits and four RBI in his previous four games. Second baseman Emilio Bonifacio leads the team in hitting (.291) and comes in riding a modest four-game hit streak. Third baseman Mike Olt leads the team with nine homers and 24 RBI, despite hitting just .187 on the year.
Up next: It’s back to the road after the weekend, as the Padres head to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks and Chicago to play the White Sox. They return home June 2 for a series with the Pirates.