Edit ModuleShow Tags

The San Diego Padres Turn 50

A look back on our home team's 50 years in the MLB, plus the fans and one chicken who'll always support them


Published:

 

San Diego may have consummated its Major League love affair in 1969, but the Padres had been swinging for a long time by then.

They first stepped up to the plate as a Pacific Coast League team in 1936, and won the PCL championship a year later with then-18-year-old Ted Williams.

At the time, their home was downtown at Lane Field, a former US Navy athletic facility just yards from San Diego Bay. The bleachers seated 8,000; there was no roof, no lights, no backstop behind home plate, and definitely no Phil’s BBQ, Buona Forchetta, or Pizza Port. Today, an InterContinental hotel stands in what was once the outfield. A grass park at the corner of Broadway and Pacific Highway memorializes the ballpark with a pitcher’s mound and batter’s box in roughly the same spot as they were in the minor league days.

San Diego Padres 50th anniversary

The team left Lane for a field in Mission Valley in 1957 (later the site of Fashion Valley mall), where they would play until nearby San Diego Stadium was built. They were welcomed into the National League in 1969, but even with slugging first-baseman Nate Colbert and former Brooklyn and LA Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi their first president, the Padres lost 100 games in four of their first six seasons. By 1973, owner C. Arnholt Smith was in such financial trouble that he agreed to sell the Padres to a businessman who would move the franchise to Washington, DC. The future was bleak.

San Diego’s savior turned out to be McDonald’s cofounder Ray Kroc. The local burger czar bought the team from Smith for $12 million and relieved sports fans when he vowed to keep the Padres in town.

San Diego Padres 50th anniversary

Not that Kroc and the Pads were love at first sight. At the first home game he attended as owner, he went into the press box and grabbed the public-address microphone, wanting to apologize to the fans. “This is the most stupid baseball playing I’ve ever seen!” he barked. (The team might’ve been too distracted to hear him, since a streaker had just run across the field.)

In 1975, for the first time in its professional history, the Padres exhibited small institutional progress by not finishing in last place. You gotta start somewhere!

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More in The Padres Turn 50:

The San Diego Padres Turn 50

A look back on our home team's 50 years in the MLB, plus the fans and one chicken who'll always support them

From 1969 to 2019: A Timeline of the Padres in the MLB

An overview on San Diego's major league moments

The Guy Inside the San Diego Chicken

How Ted Giannoulas went from SDSU student to the most influential costumed sports mascot of all time

The Fan-Tastic Five: Padres Fans Share Their Memories

It's not always easy being a Padres fan, but these boosters are as loyal as they come

Who Wore it Best: Padres Uniforms Through the Decades

Turns out, we'll never shake that brown and gold
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Getting Involved As a Group

Pick a cause, any cause! Here are seven ways to give back with coworkers or pals

From the Archives: San Diego Food Photography in the '70s

Feast your eyes on questionable backdrops and head-scratching cuisine from the 1970s

This San Diego Clothing Line Is Fashioned from Family Paintings

Clothing designer Sarah Armendariz opens up about launching her line, Cosima
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2019
    Nearly 7,500 of our hungriest readers voted in our annual poll—and the results are served
  2. Vote Now in San Diego’s Cutest Pet Contest
    Your furry family member could win a pet prize package and be featured in San Diego Magazine
  3. First Look: Il Dandy
    Michelin-starred Italian chefs open a stunner in Bankers Hill
  4. Best of North County 2019
    Our annual roundup of what's up-and-coming and full-on buzzy above the 56
  5. The Best Veggie Burgers in San Diego
    The citywide hunt for the best plant-based burger found a clear winner
  6. San Diego Homebuyer’s Guide 2019
    It's possible to find an affordable home in these six up-and-coming enclaves
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now in San Diego’s Cutest Pet Contest

Your furry family member could win a pet prize package and be featured in San Diego Magazine

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Vote Now in San Diego’s Cutest Pet Contest

Your furry family member could win a pet prize package and be featured in San Diego Magazine

What Would You Do with a Life Without Disease?

For William "Bill" Brown the answer is clear: Make the world go round.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags