Happy 44th birthday to former San Diego Padres first baseman and outfielder, Ryan Klesko. It was fun when I was a kid to watch that lineup of Klesko, Phil Nevin, Bubba Trammell and Mark Loretta those last few years at Qualcomm Stadium.
Although those teams did not amount to much, the lineup was full of good hitters. Klesko was right in the middle. With his awesome facial hair and “Bad to the Bone” walk-up song, he was easily a fan favorite in San Diego.
He came over to the Padres in 2000 in a deal that sent Wally Joyner, Reggie Sanders and Quilvio Veras to the Atlanta Braves. He played 7 seasons with San Diego although his last, in 2006, was pretty much wiped away due to injury.
He was an All-Star in 2001 when he hit .286 with 30 home runs and 112 RBI. He had four consecutive seasons from 2000- 2003 of hitting at least 21 home runs with an OPS of at least .810. He hit 133 home runs for the Padres (6th on the Padres franchise list) and finished with 278 in his career.
My favorite memory of Klesko was in April of 2004. The Padres were down 5-3 in the bottom of the 9th. He came up with two runners on. He shot a line drive over the left field fence in that little corner under the Western Metal Supply Co. building for a walk-off home run, Petco Park’s first ever. He was a fun player to watch even when the team itself wasn’t that good. Happy Birthday, Rhino!\
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