The 1984 San Diego Padres were one of the first solid Padres teams. In fact, that team represented the first time that the franchise had made the playoffs. A young, 24-year-old Tony Gwynn led the charge for the Friars, batting an astounding .351, which won him his first batting title. He also finished 3rd in MVP voting.
The power bat in the lineup was Graig Nettles. He hit a team-high 20 home runs and collected 65 RBI. Steve Garvey was in his second year with the Friars after having a successful career just up north for the Dodgers.
On the pitching side, Mark Thurmond had a season to remember. He went 14-8 with a team-best 2.97 ERA. Eric Show, the Padres all-time wins leader, won 15 games in 206 2/3 innings. Rich “Goose” Gossage put together another solid season on his way to the Hall of Fame. He had 10 wins, a 2.90 ERA, and saved 25 games.
The Padres finished 92-70, first place in the National League West ahead of the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros, who both tied for second. It was the first 90-win season in Friars history.
Back then, there was no N.L. Division Series. It went straight to the League Championship Series between the two division winners of each league. The Chicago Cubs won 96 games and won the N.L. East. They would be the Padres’ challenge.
The series certainly did not start out ideally for San Diego. The Cubs walloped the Friars 13-0 in Game 1 at Wrigley. Gary Matthews of Chicago went off, hitting two home runs and driving in four runs. Rick Sutcliffe shut the Padres down with seven shutout innings, while recording eight strikeouts.
Facing elimination in the then best-of-five series, the Padres went back to Jack Murphy Stadium desperate. They answered the bell, with seven runs combined in the fifth and sixth innings to beat the Cubs 7-1. Kevin McReynolds had three RBI and Garry Templeton added two of his own. The Friars got to Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for five runs, as he started the game for Chicago.
The Padres tied the series up in Game 4 in dramatic fashion. Tony Gwynn singled off of the great Lee Smith with one out in the 9th in a tie game. Steve Garvey then hit perhaps the most famous home run in San Diego Padres history, giving the Padres a walk-off win to tie the series. Momentum was now on the Padres’ side.
The Friars officially became the “Cub Busters” in the decisive Game 5. The Cubs took an early 3-0 lead. With the game tied at three in the bottom of the seventh, Gwynn came up and delivered a clutch two-run double to give the Padres the lead. They would never look back as Gossage slammed the door on the Cubs and the National League pennant, San Diego’s first.
It was the franchise’s first World Series, in their first year in the playoffs, no less. The Friars dropped Game 1 at home after a Larry Herndon two-run home run in the fifth gave the Tigers the lead. Jack Morris was too much to handle as he threw a complete game, only allowing two runs and striking out nine.
The Friars answered back at “The Murph” in Game 2. Kurt Bevacqua, who has become a fan-favorite on social media, hit a go-ahead three-run home run and the Friars never looked back in what has been to this day their only win in a World Series, as they were victorious 5-3.
The Padres then dropped the next three games in Detroit to lose the series four games to one. Alan Trammell (who has made a few Padres enemies lately) won the World Series MVP for Detroit, after batting .450 with two home runs.
Even though the Padres lost, going from no postseason at all in 15 previous years to a World Series berth is quite impressive. This team featured two players in Gwynn and Garvey who would later have their numbers retired with San Diego.