The Friars On Base Interview: John D’Acquisto-Part I

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Editor’s note: John D’Acquisto pitched for the San Diego Padres from 1977 through 1980. As a native San Diegan, he was excited about the chance to come home and pitch in front of family and friends on a consistent basis. His MLB career spanned from 1973-1982, having played for six teams in his big league career. Mr. D’Acquisto was kind enough to join editor Billy Brost recently to catch-up and answer some questions for Friars On Base. This will be part one of a two-part interview with Mr. D’Acquisto, and we are grateful for his time and willingness to speak with us.~BB

Billy Brost: What baseball groups and charitable organizations are you involved in these days?

John D’Acquisto: I work for Major League Baseball and am involved with the American Stroke Foundation along with the Heart and Lung Association.

BB: Nice. Do you still have contact with anyone within the Padres’ organization, and do you visit several parks per season?

JD: Yes, and I am close with Randy JonesNhu Tran, and Dave Winfield.

BB: The two of you (he and Randy Jones) were teammates correct?

JD: Yes, that is correct 77-80. I don’t really know anyone else in the Padres’ organization.

BB: In 1977, you played for three different managers in SD correct?

JD: Yes, John MacNamara, Bob Skinner for one game, and Alvin Dark. Roger Craig in ’78.

BB: How was Roger Craig as a pitching guru? Seems like everyone he instructed turned to gold.

JD: Real good. What a lot of people didn’t realize, is that Roger and I worked together in the off-season when I lived in San Diego. I would work out with the Padres even though I was a Giants’ player.

BB: Was that frowned upon at all by the organization?

JD: No, not at all, because it was just conditioning, I had to get permission though.

BB: So it must have been nice when he came in, since he probably had a pretty good understanding of how to handle you?

JD: Yes, he did, and handled me well…over 150 appearances for SD between he and Chuck Estrada, we had it going on.

BB: Was Rollie Fingers as crazy as the stories say in terms of typical “closer” mentality?

JD: (Rollie was as) Quiet as a church mouse and understood his role…It was an honor to be his setup man….and close friend. He was all business and taught me a lot about the bullpen. I was the crazy one.

BB: Ha! Who was your favorite teammate in SD?

JD: Eric Rasmussen, Randy (Jones) and Rollie. I played golf with Rollie all the time, Eric and I played guitars together, and I went fishing with Randy and Gene Tenace. Great times, but Eric and I were the closest.

BB: Wow, that’s quite a group of guys!

JD: Yes, they were quite a group alright. I was also close with Ozzie Smith also.

BB: You played with both he and Dave Winfield. In your opinion, what was the missing ingredient. Seems like those Padres’ teams had a ton of talent?

JD: There were not many guys on that team that I didn’t get along with. They were all great guys and close friends. The missing ingredient was that we got tired at the end of the year. In ’78, we had a chance to win the whole thing…Fell short with our offense, pitching held up well through the whole year. Second in the National League in ERA to the Dodgers who won the pennant that year.

Chemistry is important, and that ’78 team had it. They (the organization) should of never traded us all away….they should have kept us all together, added a few more talented players and we could have won the World Series.

BB: You grew up in San Diego, and played for several teams. Was it always a dream to come home and play in front of the home crowd?

JD: Oh yes, it was my life long dream to play in front of my hometown, my family and friends…I grew up with Lane Field back when, and Westgate Park is now Fashion Valley and Jack Murphy Stadium, and to be able to walk out on that field and see all of my family and friends in the stands was truly a blessing to be able to have had that opportunity…I think my Dad and Mom had a smile from ear to ear every time I saw them…

BB: That is awesome to be able to have that kind of opportunity in the place where you grew up.

JD: Yes it was.

BB: You also had the unfortunate experience of playing in the Siberia of baseball in Montreal. Care to share your thoughts on that experience?

JD: Great experience, but very cold though…Went from last to first as Jack McKeon said…Ironically my first two saves were against my old teammates, the Padres…That Montreal team was stacked with Hall of Famers and Cy Young award winners in 1980…I pitched really well for Dick Williams in Montreal, and they drafted me to come back to Montreal for a second season, and I went to the Angels instead…

BB: You tested free agency during the strike in ’81? How painful was that as a player to have your season turned on it’s ear?

JD: It ended my career…and it was very painful, with all the collusion going on between owners and all… I was a Player Rep for the Angels, and I got sent to the minors during the negotiations, and there wasn’t supposed to be any moves made during the strike. Buzzie Bavasi made that move because of my outspoken statements in the meetings with Marvin Miller… I was a sacrificial Lamb you might say…it took a long time for me to get back to the big leagues.

Editor’s Note: This concludes Part I of the Friars On Base interview with former San Diego Padres’ relief pitcher, John D’Acquisto. Part II will be next Wednesday, August 6th, 2014.~BB

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