Padres’ first base legend Steve Garvey circa 1984 NLCS. Mandatory Credit: UT-San Diego.
The San Diego Padres are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the opening of Petco Park this year. In addition, the organization has also scheduled a wide array of festivities, commemorating the resurrection of the downtown district, and celebrating those memories the Padres have made over that span of a decade, which include two National League West titles in 2005 and 2006.
Despite Petco’s gorgeous views of the San Diego Harbor, the skyline, the Western Supply Metal Company, its vicinity to the Gaslamp Quarter, and the endless supply of BBQ concession stands throughout the ballpark, it’s those memorable games, events, and players at “The Murph” that helped create the San Diego Padres’ organization.
Opening up in 1969, Jack Murphy Stadium was a part of a larger sports movement to create those all-purpose stadiums that catered to both football and baseball. It didn’t make for a pretty view for tourists coming to see America’s Finest City, but it did give local fans a venue to see the Padres’ play.
Growing up a Padres’ fan, “the Murph” was the place to see Tony Gwynn play right field. It enabled friends and families to tailgate 2-3 hours before game time and for kids to play pickle while avoiding those cars coming into the stadium to watch the game.
It was “the Murph” and not Petco that gave fans the chance to see the greatest defensive shortstop of all-time, Ozzie Smith make one of the most incredible defensive plays in Major League history with one hand that eventually gave him the nickname “The Wizard of Oz.”
The stadium and it’s dynamics with its green backdrops and fences were certainly not as historic as the ivy at Wrigley field or the Green Monster in Boston. However, “the Murph” offered up a unique experience of a different kind only known to Padres’ fans who endured losing seasons, fire sales, and constant redesigns.
It’s “the Murph” and not Petco that has played host to the Padres’ only two World Series appearances in 1984 and 1998. It provided fans with the most memorable home run in team history and arguably the greatest hitter since Ted Williams (who by the way if you didn’t know, was born and raised in San Diego, and played for the Padres pre-MLB.)
Steve Garvey‘s legendary walk-off home run over the right-center field wall off Cubs Lee Smith in Game 4 of the 1984 NLCS helped propel the club to a Game 5 victory. Garvey’s home run continues to be forever etched in the hearts of long time Padres’ fans who know exactly where his homer landed.
It was “the Murph” and not Petco that gave fans the backdrop for their magical run of the 1998 season, the Padres’ second National League Championship in team history
There is no doubt Petco Park gives fans an amazing experience to watch baseball games, but it was”the Murph” that played host to the Padres’ most successful years. Further, Petco Park has given fans an amazing time for the past 10 years, but at the same time, it hasn’t provided fans with those lasting ones.
So the next time you’re walking to your seats at Petco Park, look around and take in those special memories because you never know when it will be figment of someone’s imagination.