Retired Numbers: San Diego Padres

(This is part of a series on retired numbers, with somewhat of a focus on Retired Number Bandits — players who wore a number that was later retired at any point after the person for whom it was retired first wore it. See the introduction for more information and explanation on Bandits.)

The San Diego Padres have retired five numbers. Four of the players were actually very good or great, and two of them actually did their best work for the Padres.

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Steve Garvey, 6

Garvey was one of the biggest stars of the 1970s, winning the 1974 National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1974, finishing in the top ten in four other seasons, leading the league in hits twice, and collecting 200+ hits in a season six times. From 1974-80, he hit .311/.348/.480 (130 OPS+), averaging 201 hits, 32 doubles, 23 home runes, 104 RBIs, and 88 runs scored per season. Along with Ron Cey, Bill Russell, and Davey Lopes, Garvey was part of the iconic Los Angeles Dodgers infield that played together for nearly nine seasons.

Oh yeah, and later he played for the Padres. In a Padres uniform, Garvey set the National League record for most consecutive games played, and he was the 1984 NL Championship Series MVP in leading the Padres to their first World Series appearance. In five seasons in San Diego, Garvey played 605 games and was exactly league-average on offense (100 OPS+) and relatively poor on defense. His overall WAR for his five seasons in brown and gold was 1.3.

Garvey retired after the 1987 season, and the Padres retired his number on April 16, 1988, the first number they ever retired. Keith Moreland had come over from the Chicago Cubs in an offseason trade and had taken his customary number 6, but he wore it for only ten games before the Padres retired it in Garvey’s honor. (Moreland was batting .378 wearing number 6; he batted just .247 the rest of the season. It’s the Garvey Curse you hear so much about.)

Garvey’s highlight with the Padres was this walk-off homer against Lee Smith of the Cubs in Game 5 of the 1984 NLCS:

Tony Gwynn, 19

The first player to be truly great and do his best work for the Padres was Gwynn. Drafted by the Padres out of San Diego State University in 1981, Gwynn made the big leagues the next year. In his first full season in 1984, he led the majors with a .351 batting average and 213 hits, finishing third in the MVP voting. He would lead the National League in batting average seven more times and in hits six more times. Other than his 54-game cup of coffee in 1982, Gwynn never batted below .309.

Gwynn did not hit many home runs — just 135 in his 20-year career, and never more than 17 in a season — and he did not draw many walks. But when you hit the way Gwynn hit, you can have a career .388 on-base percentage even without many walks. He finished his career with 3,141 hits, 543 doubles, 1,383 runs scored, and 319 stolen bases.

Gwynn retired after the 2001 season, and the Padres retired his number 19 in 2004. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007 with 97.6 percent of the vote. He died due to complications from cancer of the salivary gland in 2014.

Dave Winfield, 31

Winfield was a great player, but most of his greatness came during his nine seasons with the New York Yankees from 1981-89. For his career, he hit 465 home runs and had 3,110 hits. He played for the Yankees team that lost the 1981 World Series, and he later played for the 1992 World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays.

After being drafted in the first round of the 1973 draft by the Padres, Winfield hit .284/.357/.464 with 154 home runs in eight seasons for San Diego. He signed with the Yankees as a free agent after the 1980 season. Despite four top-ten MVP finishes and eight All-Star appearances in his first eight seasons with New York, Winfield and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had an ongoing feud that often made headlines.

That feud with Steinbrenner led to Winfield choosing to wear a Padres hat on his Hall of Fame plaque when he was elected in 2001. The Padres, suddenly remembering that this Hall of Famer had once played for them, retired his number 31 in April 2001 (something the Yankees have still not done). Between Winfield’s departure in 1980 and the retiring of his number in 2001, seven Padres wore 31: LaMarr Hoyt, Ed Whitson, Dave Staton, Bill Bean, Bob Tewksbury, Trey Beamon, and Matt Clement.

Randy Jones, 35

Jones was not a very good pitcher, but he was pretty good for two seasons. In 1975, he finished second in the NL Cy Young voting after going 20-12 with a league-leading 2.24 ERA. The next year, he went 22-14 with a 2.74 ERA and won the Cy Young.

Jones won 16 more games than he lost in 1975-76; in his other eight seasons in the big leagues, he was a combined 58-97 with a 3.84 ERA in 1,332.2 innings. The Padres traded him to the New York Mets after the 1980 season, and he was done at age 32 in 1982.

Jones received zero votes in 1988, his only year on the Hall of Fame ballot. The Padres retired his number 35 in 1997; it had previously been worn by Luis DeLeon, Chris Brown, Walt Terrell, Rafael Valdez, Jason Thompson, and Al Osuna.

Trevor Hoffman, 51

Hoffman and Gwynn are the two Padres who unquestionably deserve to have their numbers retired by the team. Hoffman came up as a shortstop in the Florida Marlins organization after being plucked from the Cincinnati Reds in the expansion draft. When he discovered that he was a lousy hitter but could throw 95 MPH, he switched to pitcher. He would later reinvent himself again when a series of shoulder problems took away his fastball; he developed one of the best changeups in baseball to compensate.

The Marlins traded Hoffman to the Padres midway through his rookie year in 1993, and by 1994 he was San Diego’s full-time closer. From 1995-2008, Hoffman had 529 saves for the Padres with a 2.67 ERA. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers after the 2008 season and saved 47 games in two seasons before retiring. He finished his career with 601 saves, a record later broken by Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees.

Hoffman was on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2016, and he received 67.3 percent of the vote. The Padres never issued his number 51 after his departure, and they officially retired it in 2011.

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