Hoffman induction is the first step in reviving Padres Hall of Fame
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, center, sits with San Diego Padres CEO Ron Fowler and former Padres pitcher Trevor Hoffman, left, at a ceremony announcing that part of the Padres' Petco Park is being named Selig Hall of Fame Plaza in honor of the commissioner, who is retiring, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, in San Diego. The ceremony took place prior to a baseball game between the Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers.
And now, a warm welcome for the return of an old friend: The Padres Hall of Fame.
Dormant for the past five years, they’re dusting the place off, uncapping the furniture polish and airing it out. And not a moment too soon.
When Trevor Hoffman is inducted into the Padres’ Hall of Fame before Saturday’s game with the Dodgers, it not only will be the first sign of life from the old place since Dick Williams’ induction way back in 2009, it will represent the installation of another important building block from an invested ownership that appears to be slowly shoving this franchise back on track.
"It’s unfortunate it was sort of tucked away for a period of years," club president Mike Dee, who is spearheading the project, told me this week of the club’s hibernating Hall of Fame.
Most unfortunate is the reason why: As the Padres clumsily bounced around over the past several years from the increasingly disinterested hands of owner John Moores to the slippery palms of Jeff Moorad, there is no question that this is a franchise that had lost its way.
As the team on the field began to wither on the vine, unfocused and embarrassing marketing efforts centered around things like "breakfast at Petco."
It’s about baseball, not bacon, and never should an organization lose sight of that. Otherwise it becomes a lost ball in tall weeds, less and less relevant.
The Padres have taken a couple of colossal hits this year with the deaths of Jerry Coleman and Tony Gwynn, the two greatest icons in franchise history.
Yet, and please, absolutely no disrespect to either one of two of my favorite all-time baseball people … franchise history did not start, nor does it stop, wither either one of them.
It’s not a one-time, one-day fix. Trevor obviously is deserving as a one-time inductee, but we’re going to be aggressive in teeing up those who vote for those who may have not had [national baseball] Hall of Fame careers like Trevor, but who have had tremendous careers on and off the field as Padres.
The Padres have a very rich history, and that history needs to be told. And now more than ever, in an ever-changing, short-attention-span world.
Quick, who has more wins (100) and walks (593) than anybody in Padres’ history?
Who ranks second on the club’s all-time hit list (1,135) behind Gwynn? Who charts higher than you would believe in games played (fifth, 939), batting average (fifth, .291), hits (fourth, 994), triples (second, 63) and runs scored (second, 599)?
Eric Show, Garry Templeton and Gene Richards. None of whom are in the Padres Hall of Fame.
Truth is, including Hoffman, only nine have been inducted: Randy Jones, the club’s first Cy Young winner (1999); Ray Kroc, the McDonald’s owner who saved the club from moving to Washington, D.C. (1999); slugger Nate Colbert (1999), Hall of Famer Dave Winfield (2000), Coleman (2001), former GM Buzzie Bavasi (2001), Gwynn (2002) and Williams.
"Fundamentally, we believe that celebrating the history of our franchise is an important obligation, and part of an important stewardship of ownership," Dee says. "There are fans that have been here for most of the 46 years of the Padres, and even the PCL Padres before that, and we have longer-term plans to recognize that this is a community franchise with enormous baseball history.
"Almost without rhyme or reason, the history is tucked away on one wall of the Western Metal Supply building. For whatever reason, it was never done up to a standard you would."
There is a permanence to a game passed down through generations, but in this day and age of free agency and tenuous economics – goodbye Adrian Gonzalez, goodbye Jake Peavy – moments, like individual summers, become all too fleeting.
The best organizations capture those moments and knit them into their fabric. The Reds have a wonderful team Hall of Fame in a building adjacent to Great American Ball Park. The Royals have done a marvelous job with theirs at Kauffman Stadium. The Mets too, in Citi Field.
Target Field in Minnesota is decorated with Twins history throughout. The entire place is a celebration of baseball, the Twins and Minnesota. Walk around and you see various trophy cases containing everything from Kirby Puckett’s cleats to fan letters written to Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.
As beautiful as Petco Park is, it does not tell the story of Show, Templeton, Dave Dravecky, Tim Flannery and the 1984 World Series Padres. Or of the ’69 expansion Padres with Downtown Ollie Brown, Colbert, Clay Kirby, manager Preston Gomez and a couple of coaches named Sparky Anderson and Roger Craig. Or of much else before Bud Black, Jedd Gyorko and Cameron Maybin.
As an ownership group steered by Peter and Tom Seidler and Ron Fowler digs out of the Moores-Moorad mess – last year the business operations, this summer baseball operations – one of the ways they can re-connect with the community is by plugging back into its roots.
So far, they’re hitting many of the right notes, and the re-introduction of the Padres’ Hall of Fame is another deft move.
The plan, eventually, is to house the Padres Hall of Fame in its own area in Petco Park … while spreading more Padres history throughout the park. Excellent, especially as a prelude to the franchise’s 50th anniversary in 2019.
So ring those Hells Bells loudly for Trevor’s Time on Saturday … and then, let’s talk about points beyond.
"It’s not a one-time, one-day fix," Dee says. "Trevor obviously is deserving as a one-time inductee, but we’re going to be aggressive in teeing up those who vote for those who may have not had [national baseball] Hall of Fame careers like Trevor, but who have had tremendous careers on and off the field as Padres. The number of individuals in the [Padres] Hall of Fame, to me, is hard to believe. The standard should be examined."
So, what do you think? Ed Whitson, fourth all-time in wins (77) and third in innings pitched (1,354 1/3)? Terry Kennedy, eighth all-time in RBI (424), ninth in hits (817) and eighth in games played (835)? Andy Benes, second in strikeouts (1,036) or Clay Kirby, fourth in lowest opponents’ batting average (.243)?
Steve Garvey, though his stay in San Diego was brief, for that Cub-busting home run? Or maybe, after his squeaky-clean image was shattered when he was revealed to have fathered children with two women who were not his wife, for inspiring the greatest all-time bumper sticker in town: Steve Garvey Is Not My Padre.
OK, OK, so maybe we can take this thing a little too far. But debate is good, and if that leads to passion, all the better.
"Our goal, we don’t want to cheapen the currency," Dee says. "We want to be respectful of those who are in. We don’t want anybody to skate in. But we want to make sure those who have had great moments or seasons in a Padres’ uniform, or made a tremendous effort, are considered for admission into the Hall of Fame."