As every team in the league participated in honoring Jackie Robinson on Sunday 15 April, by wearing the number of 42. I would like to pay a tribute to four prominent former Padres black players, who in my mind had a positive impact on the franchise and should be well remembered of their contributions to the franchise.
Big Nate Colbert played with the Padres from 1969 thru 1974. He was the first star of the expansion San Diego Padres. He was a three-time All-Star and a feared right-handed slugger. He tied a record when he hammered five homers in a single day, and on that same day set a Major League record with 13 RBI’s.
Dave Winfield was 21 yrs old when he broke in with the San Diego Padres in 1973. He played with the Padres from 1973 thru 1980. His best career year with the Padres was in 1979, as he batted .308, had 34 homers, and 118 RBI’s.
Ozzie Smith, widely known as ‘The Wizard of Oz’ throughout major league baseball. He played with the Padres from 1978 thru 1981. As the regular shortstop in his first year in the big leagues, Ozzie helped the Padres to an 84 – 78 record, played in 159 out of 162 games. He lead the league in sacrifice hits (28), finished fourth in stolen bases (40), and was runner-up to Atlanta’s Bob Horner for Rookie of the Year in 1978.
Most known as ‘Mr. San Diego’, Tony Gwynn played his entire career with the San Diego Padres from 1982 thru 2001. Tony’s career year was in 1997 when he batted .372, had 17 homers, and 119 RBI’s. He hit over .300 for 19 consecutive seasons, surpassing Honus Wagner’s National League record set from 1897 thru 1913. The only time he failed to hit over .300 at any stop in his professional baseball career was 1982, when after batting .328 in 93 Triple-A games, he hit .289 in 54 games for the Padres in his major league debut season.
I tip my cap to those mentioned above and others who weren’t mentioned that also contributed to the San Diego Padres Franchise during their careers.