Happy Birthday Padres!

Buzzie Bavasi-2By Bill Center 

Happy Birthday, San Diego Padres!

On this day in 1968, the Major League Padres officially came into existence when the National League voted to expand with franchises San Diego and Montreal for the 1969 season.

The original Padres owner was San Diego financier C. Arnholdt Smith, but the man who put together the Padres proposal to the National League was former Dodgers executive E.J. “Buzzie” Bavasi.

The owners and executives conducting the expansion of Major League Baseball – Seattle and Kansas City were added to the American League lineup at the same time the Padres and Expos were born – knew Bavasi.

But they had had little previous contact with Smith, who had owned the minor league Padres of the Pacific Coast League since 1955.

Hired by Smith in 1967 to put together the Padres expansion proposal, Bavasi, who became the Padres founding President and also operated as the General Manager, years later he said he had to sell Major League Baseball on two things regarding expansion into San Diego.

“San Diego had led the minor leagues in attendance almost annually,” said Bavasi. “But owners feared there were major limitations. San Diego wasn’t a big city at the time and it was going through a major economic transition. And it had hard boundaries on all four sides. We had to sell the city and we had to sell the ownership. A lot of owners doubted San Diego could support a Major League team.”

Money was a problem from the beginning. Smith went to the expansion meeting thinking the expansion fee would be $6 million. When it turned out to be $10.2 million, Smith temporarily reconsidered his proposal.

Bavasi originally wanted to launch the Padres with a fresh sheet of paper. But Smith held out for the historic “Padres” name.

Bavasi said the biggest problem faced by the expansion Padres were the strict rules placed on the four expansion teams by Major League Baseball.

“To be honest, what happened in that expansion draft opened the eyes of baseball for future expansion. The established teams were allowed to protect most of their regular players. The talent remaining for in the expansion draft wasn’t very deep. After the experience of 1969, the game realized it couldn’t put new teams behind the Eight Ball like they did the Padres and our expansion partners.”

PADRES PUZZLER: Who was the Padres first pick in the expansion draft conducted on Oct. 14, 1968?

SHOWING SIGNS OF LIFE: Several struggling Padres hitters have picked up the pace recently. First baseman Yonder Alonso is hitting .309 (17-for-55) since May 9 with five doubles, three homers and eight RBIs in 16 games. Infielder-outfielder Alexi Amarista is hitting .375 (9-for-24) since May 8. Shortstop Everth Cabrera has three homers, seven RBIs and four steals in his last 11 games. Second baseman Jedd Gyorko is 9-for-35 (.257) with four doubles since May 17. Third baseman Chase Headley is 7-for-25 (.280) with two doubles and four RBIs over the last seven games. And left fielder Carlos Quentin is hitting .389 (7-for-18) with two homers and five RBIs since coming off the disabled list May 13.

SLOWING DOWN: Two outfielders, Seth Smith and Chris Denorfia, who carried the Padres over the first 40-plus games have slowed down. Denorfia is hitless in his last 15 at-bats. Smith is 2-for-16 over his last four games. Outfielder Will Venable is in a 1-for-13 slump. Catchers Yasmani Grandal (2-for-30 with a homer and four RBIs) since May 6 and Rene Rivera is hitless in his last 13 at-bats.

HOME, SWEET HOME: Right-hander Tyson Ross is 3-2 with a 1.54 earned run average in six starts at Petco Park this season. He is 3-2 on the road with a 5.02 ERA. Hitters are batting .197 against Ross at Petco Park and .301 against home on the road.

LONG BALLS: After giving up only one home run in the season’s first 23 games, Padres relievers have given up in the last 29. Dale Thayer has allowed four homers over his last nine appearances (6 2/3 innings) and Nick Vincent has allowed three homers over his last 13 outings (12 1/3 innings).

PUZZLER ANSWER: Outfielder Ollie Brown was selected off the roster of the San Francisco Giants. First baseman Nate Colbert, who remains the Padres all-time leader in home runs (163),was the Padres’ ninth pick.



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