In the 47-year existence of the San Diego Padres, there are quite a few moments that really hurt. Losing two World Series was rough for the fans and franchise, there is no doubt. Also, there was the team’s potential move to Washington D.C. in the 70’s, which was a difficult moment in history. Another tough moment was the passing of two Padres’ legends, Tony Gwynn and Jerry Coleman, in 2014.
Still, after all those, one day and one day alone represents a very tough moment in Padres’ history because the team said goodbye to two iconic players in separate moves on the same date. 36 years ago (December 15, 1980) the team said goodbye to its best player in Dave Winfield and also said farewell to a Padres’ pitching legend, Randy Jones.
Winfield would leave via free agency, while Jones was dealt for two prospects in an attempt to rebuild. Each have had important roles with the Padres even after their playing time was over. Winfield was the team’s executive vice president/senior advisor from 2001-2013. He was very active in the community as well. It was nice seeing him mend fences with the franchise that let him walk away when he was playing his best baseball.
Jones is a local sports icon and has a very successful barbecue business that flourished after being introduced at Qualcomm Stadium in the late 90’s. Both have a spot of their own in the San Diego Padres hall of fame. Rightfully so, as each player is a key to the Padres’ tradition, which is desperately trying to be cultivated by the new ownership group.
The fact each player ended their Padres tenure on the same date is an interesting fact in Padres’ history. The team had no chance of matching the New York Yankees’ offer to Winfield, but Jones’ trade was unsettling. It’s been a common theme for Padres fans since, that has left much of the fan base cynical and bitter. Sometimes it is best to keep your aged veterans, even past their prime. The team is learning that concept, and embracing it slowly.
The Padres’ history is full of disappointment, but the franchise still has very memorable moments that were positive. Jones and Winfield provided the team a sense of relevance. Before the two, the Padres had been seen as a second-tier team. The two helped guide the franchise in a positive way with both their actions on the field as well as their work in the community and in the club house.
Each player was a great leader and knew how to play the game the correct way. The success each enjoyed in the major leagues was due to hard work and playing the game the right way. Players like these two just don’t grown on trees and the Padres’ franchise lost them both on the same day. That impact cannot be overstated. Enjoy a little more about each player and the aftermath of their departure from a Padres’ franchise that has always lacked an identity.
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