By Bill Center
The Padres record book is packed with single-game accomplishments from the first 51 seasons of the National League franchise’s history.
This isn’t a list of those — although there are elements of records and milestones on this list. And it is my list.
Three home runs in a game won’t automatically land you on this list. Neither will pitching a one-hitter.
This is a list of 50 great days celebrated by individual Padres players over the years. Some are records. Some were milestones. Some were notable games that simply moved the needle in Padres’ history.
Remember, this is my list. It is not perfect and more than open to debate. But it represents 50 days — and it’s important to note that I’m not saying games — where Padres players had an impact on either the Padres record book or aura.
I am going to rank five such days over 10 days in reverse order of where they fit into my rankings.
So, here we go.
50. Outfielder Gene Richards (July 10, 1982) — The swift left-handed hitter is one of the more underrated offensive players in Padres history. He ranks fourth on the Padres’ all-time list in hits (994), fifth in batting average (.291), second in steals (242) and third in runs scored (484). But he seldom made the headlines with July 10, 1982, being an exception. Playing the Mets at Shea Stadium in New York, Richard went 5-for-5 with the first of his two inside-the-park homers of the season. He scored two runs and drove in three.
49. Right-handed reliever Bob Miller (June 23, 1971) — Miller won only seven games in 56 appearances over two seasons as a Padre. But two of those wins came on the same day in a Padres doubleheader sweep of the Houston Astros at San Diego Stadium. No other pitcher in Padres history has won two games on the same day. Miller allowed no runs on three hits and a walk with five strikeouts over six innings of the two games as the Padres won 3–2 (12 innings) and 4–3.
48. Catcher-infielder-outfielder Mike Ivie (May 30, 1977) — Ivie first made headlines in 1970 when the 6-foot-3 high school catcher from Georgia was the Padres’ first first-overall pick in the annual amateur draft. And Ivie made it to the Major Leagues a year later at the age of 19 years and 27 days. Although he didn’t work out as a catcher, Ivie spent 11 seasons in the Major Leagues, including the first five as a Padre where he had a career .269 batting average. He was playing first on May 30, 1977, when he went 7-for-10, including a franchise doubleheader-record five doubles, with six RBIs and three runs scored as the Padres sweep the Giants by scores of 12–9 and 9–8 at Candlestick Park.
47. Left-handed starting pitcher Bob Owchinko (July 16, 1977) — Drafted in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1976 draft, Owchinko made his Major League debut just over three months later. It was midway through his second season that Owchinko became something of a folk hero in San Diego. In his 15th career start on July 16, 1977, the 22-year-old Owchinko became the first Padre to take a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Dodgers. But with one out in the top of the eighth, Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey broke up Owchinko’s bid with a bunt single. Padres fans at San Diego Stadium booed Garvey. The Dodgers got two more hits and a run in the inning to be Owchinko and the Padres 1–0. Garvey’s bunt single became a hot topic. More than five years later, when he joined the Padres as a free agent, among the first questions fielded by Garvey at his introductory press conference was about his bunt single to break up Owchinko’s no-hit bid.
46. First baseman Tommy Medica (Aug. 1, 2014) — It was his background story that made Tommy Medica a fan favorite as a Padre. Medica was ranked one of the nation’s top amateur catching prospects in 2008 when a knee injury suffered while at Santa Clara University almost ended his baseball career. Two years later, the Padres drafted the still rehabbing Medica in the 14th round and he made it to the Major Leagues in 2013. On Aug. 1, 2014, at Petco Park, Medica went 5-for-5 with two homers, a stolen base, four RBIs and four runs scored as the Padres defeat Atlanta 10–1. Medica’s jerseys became an overnight best-seller, although his Major League career ended later that season.