The Padres traded Scott Sanders for WHO?!
This was my reaction on December 6th, 1996, when the Padres traded Sanders to Seattle for Sterling Hitchcock, Hitchcock was coming off of a season where he posted an ERA of 5.45, while Sanders was a key piece of the NL West champion squad of ’96. I was livid, as Sanders showed the ability to dominate, while Hitchcock allowed 245 hits. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why GM’s make the big bucks and I am an idiot blogger.
Hitchcock wasn’t very good in 1997, his first year in a Padres uniform. Scott Sanders was even worse in Seattle. The trade seemed to favor the Padres after a year. Then in 1998, Hitchcock won me over, as well as the rest of San Diego.
On June 27, 1998, Hitchcock turned in one of the finest pitching performances I have ever witnessed. I attended the game, in which Hitchcock pitched against the Anaheim Angels. Hitchcock breezed through the Angels lineup that day, not allowing a hit in his first seven innings of work. I was in attendance that day and I really thought I was going to see that historic first no-hitter in Padres history.
The Angels backup catcher led off the eighth inning and preceded to take a Hitchcock fastball and promptly deposited into the left field seats at Qualcomm Stadium. That Angel was future Padre Phil Nevin.
Hitchcock went the distance that day, pitching the Padres to a 5-1 win. Hitchcock developed a splitter and was a huge reason the Padres made the World Series in 1998.
Hitchcock carved up the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the NLDS, sending the Padres to the NLCS to face the Braves, who were a huge favorite in that series.
We all know what happened from there: Hitchcock won two games in the NLDS and won the MVP award for his dominance. Hitchcock’s efforts gave me some amazing memories. If you followed that 1998 team, Hitchcock should have a special place in your heart.
Hitchcock battled injuries after that magical run and ended his career in 2004 with the Padres. Hitchcock made $30 million in his career, but I am sure that he would tell you that making this list is better then all the money in his bank account.
Sterling Hitchcock: My 9th favorite Padre of all-time.