Monday, July 23, 2007

Tony Gwynn And The All-Time Padres.

Tony Gwynn is heading to Cooperstown and the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. A more deserving man does not exist.

This was "Tribute to Tony" weekend at San Diego's Petco Park. The highlight was the unveiling of a huge statue of Tony at bat. (That's it to the left taken by me at Sunday's game.) Gwynn is Mr. Padre in San Diego and he's a universally beloved player here. He's number one on any list of all-time Padres.

Sports writer Bill Center lists his selections for the all-time Padres team in his new book, Padres Essential. (A fun read for San Diego fans, despite its typos and some spelling errors. If you love the Padres, buy the book.) Center fills his list as if he were selecting a regular-season roster and he ends up with 25 players --- 10 pitchers and 15 position players. As a fan of the Padres since the day the team entered the major leagues, I'd say he got the starting lineup right, with one exception.

Right field, Tony Gwynn
Center field, Steve Finley
Left field, Dave Winfield
Shortstop, Garry Templeton
Third base, Ken Caminiti
Second base, Mark Loretta
First base, Nate Colbert
Catcher, Benito Santiago

Ken Caminiti was a great third baseman for the Padres, a position the team has not had much success filling over the years. It's hard to overstate how much San Diego fans liked Cammy and how important he was to the team's success. His on-field accomplishments are legendary here.

But it turns out Cammy was juiced when he played. As beloved a player as he is here in San Diego, and no matter how amazing his accomplishments were, he cheated. Because he did, I would keep him off my list of all-time Padres. By default, my all-time Padre at third would be Graig Nettles, the man who helped the Padres make it to their first World Series in 1984.


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