The San Diego Padres are a Major League Baseball team based in San Diego, California. They play in the National League Western Division. Founded in 1969, the Padres have won the National LeaguePennant twice, in 1984 and 1998, losing in the World Series both times.
The Padres adopted their name from the Pacific Coast League team which arrived in San Diego in 1936. That minor league franchise won the PCL title in 1937, led by then-18-year-old San Diegan Ted Williams . The team's name, Spanish for "fathers", refers to the Spanish Franciscan friars who founded San Diego in 1769.
In 1969, the San Diego Padres joined the ranks of Major League Baseball as one of four new expansion teams, along with the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals ), the Kansas City Royals and the Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers ). Their original owner was C. Arnholt Smith , a prominent San Diego businessman and former owner of the PCL Padres whose interests included banking, tuna fishing, hotels, real estate and an airline. Despite initial excitement, the guidance of longtime baseball executives, Eddie Leishman and Buzzie Bavasi as well as a new playing field , the team struggled; the Padres finished in last place in each of its first six seasons in the NL West , losing 100 games or more four times. One of the few bright spots on the team during the early years was first baseman and slugger Nate Colbert , an expansion draftee from the Houston Astros and still (as of 2009) the Padres' career leader in home runs.
Before the 1974 season began, the Padres were on the verge of being sold to Joseph Danzansky , who was planning to move the franchise to Washington, D.C. by the beginning of the 1974 season. People were so convinced the transfer would happen that new uniforms were designed. Even the baseball card companies were fooled. About half of the Padres' player cards printed by Topps that season displayed "Washington National League" as the team name. But C. Arnholt Smith changed his mind, and instead sold the Padres to McDonald's co-founder Ray Kroc , who was not interested in moving the team and kept the team in San Diego.
In his first home game as the Padres' new owner in 1974, Ray Kroc grabbed the public address system microphone and apologized to fans for the poor performance of the team, saying, "I've never seen such stupid ballplaying in my life." At the same time, a streaker raced across the field, eluding security personnel. Kroc shouted, "Throw him in jail!" The following season, 1975, would be the first season that the Padres would not finish in the National League West cellar (finishing fourth), and brought the promise of an owner who would make the necessary changes to the organization.
Nate Colbert is one of two major-league baseball players ( Stan Musial is the other) to have hit five home runs in a doubleheader, a feat he accomplished as a Padre. He collected 13 RBIs in that doubleheader, still a major league record. Although the Padres continued to struggle after Colbert's departure via trade to the Detroit Tigers in 1974, they did feature star outfielder Dave Winfield , who came to the Padres in 1973 from the University of Minnesota without having played a single game in the minor leagues . Winfield was also drafted by the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League , the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association .
Winfield took over where Colbert left off, starring in the Padres outfield from 1973 until 1980, when he joined the New York Yankees . In seven seasons, Winfield played in 1,117 games for San Diego and collected 1,134 hits, 154 home runs and drove in 626 runs. But most importantly, he helped the team out of the National League West basement for the first time in 1975, under the guidance of manager John McNamara , who took over the club at the start of the 1974 season.
Winfield's emergence as a legitimate star coincided with the turnaround of a promising young left-handed pitcher named Randy Jones , who had suffered through 22 losses in 1974. Jones became the first San Diego pitcher to win 20 games in 1975, going 20–12 in 37 outings as the Padres finished in fourth place with a 71–91 record, 37 games behind the Cincinnati Reds .
Jones won 22 games in 1976, winning the Cy Young Award in the process, another franchise first. The club set a new high with 73 wins, but fell to fifth place.
Jones slipped to 6–12 in 1977, and not even the acquisition of Rollie Fingers could help the Padres escape the bottom half of the division. Only Winfield and fellow outfielder George Hendrick cracked the 20-homer barrier, and the pitching staff was filled with a group of unknowns and youngsters, few of whom would enjoy much success at the major league level.
The 1978 season brought hope to baseball fans in San Diego, thanks to the arrival a young shortstop named Ozzie Smith , who arrived on the scene and turned the baseball world on its ears with an acrobatic style that redefined how the position should be played in the field. The Padres hosted the All-Star Game that summer. The National League won the contest 7–3 thanks to an MVP performance by Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey , who would play a crucial role for San Diego in the not-too-distant future. Winfield and Fingers represented the team at the game, but conspicuously absent was starting pitcher Gaylord Perry , who joined the Padres after spending three years with the Texas Rangers . At 39 years of age and coming off a 15–14 season with Texas, little was expected of him. All Perry did that summer was post a 21–6 record and a 2.73 earned run average , edging Montreal's Ross Grimsley to earn the Padres' second Cy Young Award in three seasons. San Diego also picked up another first that summer, compiling an 84–78 mark for manager Roger Craig , the only time in 10 seasons the team finished a season with a winning percentage above .500.
The good times did not last, as the Padres closed out the decade with another losing season in 1979, a 68–93 record that cost Craig his job. Winfield was the lone bright spot, leading the National League with 118 RBIs. The good times continued to fade out as Winfield signed a 10-year contract with the New York Yankees after the 1980 season.
The 1984 season began with a shock: Ray Kroc died of heart disease on January 14. Ownership of the team passed to his third wife, Joan B. Kroc . The team would wear Ray's initials, "RAK" on their jersey's left sleeve during the entire season, as well as the 1985 and 1986 seasons.
Fortunately, happier times were ahead for the team. The Padres finished at 92–70 in 1984 and won the National League West championship, despite having no players with 100-RBI and only two batters with 20-HR. They were managed by Dick Williams and had an offense that featured veterans Steve Garvey , Garry Templeton , Graig Nettles , Alan Wiggins as well as Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn , who captured his first of what would be eight National League batting championships that year (he would also win in 1987–89 and from 1994–97; Gwynn shares the National League record with Honus Wagner ). Gwynn, who also would win five National League Gold Gloves during his career, joined the Padres in 1982 following starring roles in both baseball and basketball at San Diego State University (he still holds the school record for career basketball assists), and after having been selected in the previous year by both the Padres in the baseball draft and by the then San Diego Clippers in the National Basketball Association draft. The Padres pitching staff in 1984 featured Eric Show (15–9), Ed Whitson (14–8), Mark Thurmond (14–8), Tim Lollar (11–13), and Rich "Goose" Gossage as their closer (10–6, 2.90 ERA and 25 saves).
In the 1984 NLCS , the Padres faced the NL East champion Chicago Cubs , who were making their first post-season appearance since 1945 and featured NL Most Valuable Player Ryne Sandberg and Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe . The Cubs would win the first two games at Wrigley Field , and were less than two innings away from a series sweep when their luck changed. The Padres swept the final three games at then San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium (the highlight arguably being Steve Garvey's dramatic, game winning home run off of Lee Smith in Game 4) to win the 1984 National League pennant.
In the 1984 World Series , the Padres faced the powerful Detroit Tigers , who steamrolled through the regular season with 104 victories (and had started out with a 35–5 record, the best ever through the first 40 games). The Tigers were managed by Sparky Anderson and featured shortstop and native San Diegan Alan Trammell and outfielder Kirk Gibson , along with Lance Parrish and DH Darrell Evans. The pitching staff was bolstered by ace Jack Morris (19–11, 3.60 ERA), Dan Petry (18–8), Milt Wilcox (17–8), and closer Willie Hernández (9–3, 1.92 ERA with 32 saves). Jack Morris would win games 1 and 4 and the Tigers would go on to win the Series 4-games-to-1.
After the Padres won the pennant in 1984, they had some tough times. Tony Gwynn continued to win batting titles (including batting .394 in 1994). The Padres would come close in 1985. They would field eight All-Stars (manager Dick Williams , Tony Gwynn , Graig Nettles , Rich Gossage , Terry Kennedy , Garry Templeton , Steve Garvey , and La Marr Hoyt ) at the 1985 All-Star Game in Minnesota . However, they collapsed at the end of the season, finishing tied for third with the Houston Astros behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds .
In 1987, rookie catcher Benito Santiago hit in 34 straight games, earning him the NL Rookie of the Year Award . However, the Padres finished dead last in 1987, thanks to the managing of the tempestuous Larry Bowa . The next season, rookie second baseman Roberto Alomar would make his debut, forming a double play combination with veteran shortstop Garry Templeton . During the 1988 season, Bowa was replaced by Jack McKeon and the Padres won 83 games, finishing in third place. In 1989, the Padres finished 89–73 thanks to Cy Young Award -winning closer Mark Davis . Between 1989 and 1990, friction dominated the Padres' clubhouse as Tony Gwynn had constant shouting matches with slugger Jack Clark . But as the franchise player, Gwynn prevailed as Clark finished his career with the Red Sox.
Midway through the 1990 season, Joan Kroc wanted to sell the team. But she wanted a commitment to San Diego. So Kroc sold it to television producer Tom Werner . After the ownership change, the old brown that remained in Padres uniforms since their inception were supplanted by navy blue, a nod to the vintage 1940s PCL franchise colors. Shortly after the ownership change, a trade was made with the Toronto Blue Jays where Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar were traded for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez . In 1992, the Padres lineup featured the "Four Tops": Gary Sheffield , Fred McGriff , Tony Fernández , and Tony Gwynn . However, Fernandez would go to the New York Mets , McGriff went to the division-winning Atlanta Braves , and Sheffield would go to the expansion Florida Marlins . Although extremely unpopular at the time, it was the Sheffield trade that brought in pitcher Trevor Hoffman , who was virtually unknown to Padres fans. While Sheffield led Florida to a World Championship in 1997, Hoffman would be the next franchise player behind Dave Winfield and Tony Gwynn . The Padres would finish dead last in the strike-shortened 1994 season, but Gwynn hit .394 that year (the most since Ted Williams hit over .400 in 1941). After that season, the Padres made a mega-trade with Houston reeling in Ken Caminiti , Steve Finley , and others. In November 1995, Kevin Towers was promoted from scouting director to general manager.
In 1996, under new owner John Moores (a software tycoon who purchased controlling ownership in the team in 1994 from Tom Werner, who subsequently formed a syndicate that purchased the Boston Red Sox ) and team president Larry Lucchino , and with a team managed by former Padres catcher Bruce Bochy (a member of the 1984 NL championship squad), the team won the NL West in an exciting race, sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in the final series of the regular season. The '96 team featured Gwynn, who won his seventh National League batting championship, National League MVP Ken Caminiti , premier leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson , pitcher Fernando Valenzuela , first baseman Wally Joyner and outfielder Steve Finley . The Padres had led the NL West early in the season only to falter June, but came back in July and battled the Dodgers the rest of the way. However, they were defeated in the National League Division Series by the Tony La Russa -led St. Louis Cardinals , 3 games to 0.
The Padres suffered an off-year in 1997, plagued by a pitching slump. The one silver lining was Tony Gwynn's eighth and final National League batting title, won in the final days of the season after a down-to-the wire duel with the Colorado Rockies ' Larry Walker . Walker barely missed becoming the first Triple Crown winner in baseball since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
In 1998, Henderson and Valenzuela were gone, but newly acquired (from the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins ) pitcher Kevin Brown had a sensational year (his only one with the Padres) and outfielder/slugger Greg Vaughn hit 50 home runs (overlooked in that season of the Mark McGwire - Sammy Sosa race). Managed by Bruce Bochy and aided by the talents of players such as Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti, Wally Joyner, Steve Finley, pitcher Andy Ashby and premier closer Trevor Hoffman (4–2, 1.48 ERA and 53 saves), the Padres had their best year in history, finishing 98–64 and winning the NL West division crown.
The Padres went on to defeat the Houston Astros in the 1998 NLDS , 3 games to 1, behind solid pitching by Brown and Hoffman, and home runs by Greg Vaughn , Wally Joyner and Jim Leyritz (who homered in 3 of the 4 games).
In the 1998 NLCS , the Padres faced the Atlanta Braves , who had won the National League East with an astonishing 106–56 record. The offense was paced by talent such as Andrés Galarraga , Chipper Jones , Andruw Jones and Javy López . Their pitching staff had the perennial big-3 of Greg Maddux (18–9, 2.22 ERA), Tom Glavine (20–6, 2.47 ERA), and John Smoltz (17–3, 2.90 ERA), as well as Kevin Millwood (17–8, 4.08 ERA) and Denny Neagle (16–11, 3.55 ERA). However, it was the Padres that would prevail, 4 games to 2, with ace Kevin Brown pitching a shutout in game 2 (winning 3–0). [ 7 ] Steve Finley caught a pop fly for the final out, as the Padres clinched the series.
In the 1998 World Series the Padres faced the powerhouse New York Yankees , who had steamrolled through the season with a 114–48 record and drew acclaim as one their greatest teams of all time. There was no offensive player with more than 30 home runs, in contrast to the teams of the 1920s, or 1950s, but they had four players with 24+ and eight with 17+. Yankee pitching had been paced by David Cone (20–7, 3.55), Andy Pettitte (16–11, 4.24), David Wells (18–4, 3.49), Hideki Irabu (13–9, 4.06) and Orlando Hernández (12–4, 3.13). Mariano Rivera , their closer, was excellent once again (3–0, 1.91 ERA with 36 saves). [ 8 ]
The Yankees swept the Padres in four games. Mariano Rivera closed out 3 of the 4 games. One of the few bright spots of the series for the Padres was a home run by Tony Gwynn, in Game 1 that hit the facing of the right-field upper deck at Yankee Stadium and put the Padres ahead briefly, 5–2. But the Yankees would score 7 runs in the 7th inning en route to a 9–6 victory. [ 9 ]
This World Series loss by the Padres was the only time during the Yankees' dynasty of the 1990s that didn't revive the rivalry between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves . [ 10 ] Three of the four Yankees championships during their dynasty came against either team ( 1996 and 1999 against Atlanta, 2000 against New York).
Entering the 1999 season, some instrumental players to the 1998 World Series team were gone. [ 11 ] Brown, a free agent, signed the biggest contract in baseball history with the Dodgers. Finley, a free agent, signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks . Caminiti, a free agent went to the Houston Astros . Vaughn and utilityman Mark Sweeney were traded to the Cincinnati Reds for left fielder Reggie Sanders , infielder Damian Jackson and pitching prospect Josh Harris. Starting pitcher Joey Hamilton was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitchers Woody Williams and Carlos Almanzar . [ 12 ] The Padres opened their 1999 season in Monterrey, Mexico versus the Colorado Rockies. On August 6, 1999, Tony Gwynn got his 3,000th hit (a single) against the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium .
On October 7, 2001, in a post-game ceremony at Qualcomm Stadium , Tony Gwynn made an emotional farewell to the team that had been his only major-league home. In the game played that day, Rickey Henderson , who in the meantime had rejoined the Padres, collected his 3,000th major-league base hit, a double. Gwynn struck his final major-league hit, also a double, in the previous game. He is presently head coach of the San Diego State University Aztecs, his alma mater. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 29, 2007.
After five straight losing seasons in Qualcomm Stadium (1999–2003), the Padres moved into newly built PETCO Park . PETCO Park is situated in downtown near San Diego's Gaslamp District, the main entrance located just two blocks from the downtown terminal of the San Diego Trolley light-rail system. With new amenities and a revitalization of the downtown neighborhood, fan interest renewed. Modeled after recent successes in downtown ballpark building (such as San Francisco's AT&T Park), and incorporating San Diego history in the form of the preservation of the facade of the historic Western Metals Company building (now the left-field corner, the corner of the building substituting for the left field foul pole), the new Petco Park is a sharp contrast to their previous home at Qualcomm (Jack Murphy) Stadium which was a cookie-cutter type football-baseball facility located in an outer, mostly commercial-industrial, area of the city near an interstate interchange.
With the ocean air prevalent and a sharp, clean park to play in, the Padres began to win again. The new stadium also acquired a reputation as a pitchers' park, with notable complaints from some of the Padres batters themselves (deep center field and evenings with dense foggy air). The Padres finished the 2004 season with an 87–75 record, good enough for 3rd in the NL West.
The team somewhat rebranded itself going into the 2004 season, with new colors (navy blue and sand brown), new uniforms and a new advertising slogan, "Play Downtown", referring to the near-downtown location of the new ballpark.
One of the bricks at the center plaza of Petco Park was secretly purchased by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals , an animal rights organization that has protested the breeding and purchasing of the animals sold at Petco stores. The brick reads, "Break out your cold ones. Toast the Padres. Enjoy this champion organization." The first letter of each word is really an acrostic urging people to boycott the stores.
In 2005, the Western Division Champion Padres finished with the lowest-ever winning percentage for a division champion (or for that matter, a postseason qualifier) in a non-strike season, 82–80. Three teams in the Eastern Division finished with better records than San Diego but failed to qualify for the playoffs, including second-place Philadelphia, which won 88 games and all six of its contests with the Padres. There had been some speculation that the Padres would be the first team in history to win a division and finish below .500, but their victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 30 gave them their 81st victory. In the 2005 NLDS , the reigning National League champion St. Louis Cardinals, who finished the season with the majors' best record, swept the Padres in three consecutive games. Thus the Padres finished the season with an overall regular-and-post-season record of 82–83, the first post-season qualifier in a normal-length season to lose more games than it won overall.
The Padres started April 2006 with a 9–15 record and were stuck in the cellar of the NL West.
However, after going 19–10 in May, the club moved into first place in the division. Closer Trevor Hoffman was elected to the 2006 MLB All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania , threw one inning in that game and got the loss. On September 24 (the last home game of the regular season), Hoffman became the all-time saves leader when he recorded his 479th career save, breaking Lee Smith 's record of 478 (Hoffman's career total as of the end of the season was 482). Hoffman's 2006 campaign (2.14 ERA, 46 saves in 51 opportunities through 65 games pitched) was one of his best. The 2006 Padres would attribute their success largely to the team's pitching staff. Their ERA was 3.87, first in the NL and trailing only the Detroit Tigers in all of MLB.
On September 30, 2006, the Padres clinched a playoff berth with a 3–1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks . In the final game of the season, the Padres defeated the Diamondbacks 7–6 to win back to back division titles for the first time in team history (they were tied with the Dodgers for the division title, but because of winning the season series against them, the division title went to them and the wild card went to the Dodgers). The final out of the final game of the 2006 regular season — confirming the Padres as Division champions — was a highly unusual play. With Trevor Hoffman pitching the 9th, 2 out, Diamondback Chris Young was on first. Alberto Callaspo hit a grounder past first. Second baseman Josh Barfield fielded and threw wildly to first, forcing Gonzalez to come off the bag. However, Gonzalez then threw to Khalil Greene at second, beating but not tagging Young. Second base umpire Larry Poncino initially called safe because of the no-tag, but Padres manager Bruce Bochy successfully argued that the force play at second did not need a tag to be declared out. The game, and the season, ended with a changed call. TV replay, however, clearly showed that Greene was off the bag as well, so the original call may have been correct. This call, understandably, was greeted by a long and loud chorus of boos by the Diamondbacks fans who packed Chase Field to bid farewell to Luis Gonzalez .
Only 53 teams in the modern era have posted sub-.500 records in April and survived to make the postseason. The San Diego Padres achieved the feat in both 2005 and 2006.
The Padres opened the 2006 National League Division Series at home against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, October 3, 2006. After losing the first two games at home (5–1 and 2–0 respectively), they won game 3 at Busch Stadium 3–1, but were eliminated with a 6–2 loss in Game 4, when the Cardinals, who trailed 2–0 before their first at-bat, scored six unanswered runs (two in the first, and four in the sixth) for the win.
Overall the Padres have a post-season record of 12–22; they have lost 10 of their last 11 games since winning the National League pennant in 1998.
One key offseason trade between the San Diego Padres' General Manager, Kevin Towers , and the Texas Rangers ' General Manager, Jon Daniels , would prove to have a dramatic impact on their 2006 season. The Padres dealt starting pitcher Adam Eaton , middle reliever Akinori Otsuka , and minor-league catcher Billy Killian in exchange for starting pitcher Chris Young , left fielder Terrmel Sledge , and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez . Gonzalez would take over the everyday duties at first base, batting .304 with a club-leading 24 home runs and 82 RBI in his first year as a full-time starter. Sledge would hit .229 in limited major league action. Chris Young proved to be the real story, however, as he would go 11–5 with a 3.46 ERA (6th best in the National League) and allowed just 6.72 hits per 9 innings pitched – best in the majors.
2006 also ended up being the last year of Bruce Bochy 's tenure as the manager of the Padres, taking the managerial position for their divisional rivals, the San Francisco Giants . He was replaced by Bud Black , a San Diego State University alumni and former pitching coach of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim .
On Sunday, April 1, 2007, Major League Baseball's 2007 Opening Night, the Padres announced that they had agreed to terms on a four-year contract with 1B Adrian Gonzalez , keeping him in San Diego until 2010 with a club option for 2011. Prior to this contract agreement the Padres had offered to renew Gonzalez's contract during the offseason at $380,500, only $500 over the league minimum for the 2007 season.
The Padres' 2007 season began April 3 in an away game against the San Francisco Giants , winning it 7–0 in front of a capacity crowd of 42,773 at AT&T Park , defeating $126 million staff-ace Barry Zito in his Giants debut. The Padres bullpen has continued to be the team's strength as in recent years, opening the season with 28 1/3 scoreless innings, a Major League record to start a season. At the start of the season the Padres starting rotation order was as follows: Jake Peavy , Chris Young , Clay Hensley (injured, replaced by Justin Germano ), Greg Maddux , David Wells .
On June 4, 2007, Jake Peavy was named NL Pitcher of the Month after going 4–0 with a 0.79 ERA in May. The next day, Trevor Hoffman was named the “DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award” for May 2007. The award recognizes the most outstanding relief pitcher during each month of the regular season.
On September 23, 2007, Milton Bradley hurt his knee and was out for the rest of the season because first base umpire Mike Winters was using profanity to Milton Bradley after Bradley struck out during the fifth inning by home plate umpire Brian Runge . Milton Bradley apparently threw his bat at home plate umpire Brian Runge when Bradley struck out. Milton Bradley was charging at first base umpire Mike Winters and the Padres first base coach had to pull him out along with Padres manager Bud Black . Unfortunately, Padres manager, Bud Black accidentally injured Milton Bradley 's knee. Milton Bradley was out for the rest of the season. This was one factor which cost the playoff eligibility for the San Diego Padres. Milton Bradley said that he didn't do anything to cause this.
The Padres ended the regular season in an 89–73 tie for the NL wild card with the Colorado Rockies . In a cruel piece of irony, on September 29, 2007, the Padres were within one out and one strike of clinching the National League Wild Card berth, but Tony Gwynn, Jr. , son of the longtime Padres legend, tripled against Hoffman to tie the game. The Padres went on to lose that game, and the one that followed, even though the Milwaukee Brewers had been eliminated from the pennant race and had nothing left to play for. The Padres then met the Rockies on October 1, 2007 in Denver for a one-game playoff to decide the wild card winner. Despite having Jake Peavy start the game and bringing in Trevor Hoffman in the bottom of the 13th inning to try to hold an 8–6 lead, the Padres' season ended when the Rockies rallied to win 9–8. It ended on a controversial call on a sacrifice fly where many questioned whether Matt Holliday ever touched home plate, leaving Padre fans saying "Holliday never touched home!" The umpire of that game claimed that the catcher, Michael Barrett , was blocking the plate before he had possession of the ball. Therefore Holiday was ruled safe.
On November 15, Jake Peavy won the National League Cy Young Award by unanimous ballot. He was the fourth Padre to capture the pitching award.
The Padres entered the 2007–08 offseason with a number of questions, including the ability of Trevor Hoffman to close games past his 40th birthday, the ongoing inability to hold runners on base (the Padres' caught-stealing ratio in 2007 was one of the worst in baseball history), two holes in the back of the starting rotation, and the possible departure of Mike Cameron to free agency. The two holes in the rotation were filled by former Dodger Randy Wolf and Mark Prior and the club dealt for Jim Edmonds to replace Cameron. Additionally, Milton Bradley was signed by the Texas Rangers .
The Padres signed Mark Prior to a one-year deal in the off-season. Prior, a University of San Diego HS graduate (now Cathedral HS ), joins a team that consists of players that were also local prep stars, Brian Giles ( Granite Hills HS ), Adrian Gonzalez ( Eastlake HS ), and Oscar Robles ( Montgomery HS ). Recent Padres teams had also included Dave Roberts ( Rancho Buena Vista HS ), David Wells ( Point Loma HS ), and Marcus Giles ( Granite Hills HS ).
The Padres started the 2008 campaign March 31, in San Diego against the Houston Astros and won the series 3–1.
2007 All-Star Chris Young pitched in the second game of the season, a 2–1 win, and Trevor Hoffman, the game's all-time saves leader, wrapped up the ninth for the save. The Los Angeles Dodgers came into town and took two of three. 2007 Cy Young winner Jake Peavy picked up the only win during the Dodgers' series. At the end of the opening homestand, the Padres were 3–3.
The Padres traveled to San Francisco, hoping to fatten up on former manager Bruce Bochy's Giants, but the now-Bondsless bay dwellers took two of three.In Los Angeles, the Padres won two of three, pushing their record back to .500.
On April 17, 2008, during the series against the Colorado Rockies at PETCO Park , the Padres played the longest game in team history, in terms of innings (22), losing 2–1. The game was the second longest in team history, in terms of time, played in 6 hours, 16 minutes. Following that game, which sapped the team's bullpen strength, the Padres stumbled, dropping games at home, where they struggled to score runs, and on the road, where they committed uncharacteristic errors and failed to hold leads. Returning home after a humbling three-game sweep in Atlanta in early May, the Padres cut Jim Edmonds, the Cardinals castoff who had been brought in after the Padres failed to sign Mike Cameron to an new deal in the offseason. With former Indian Jody Gerut now in center, the Padres won the three-game weekend home series with the Rockies and motored to Chicago with the hopes of winning three of four to get the season back on track. Instead, the Cubs, with Jim Edmonds in center, won three of four and booted the Padres from the Windy City into an interleague series with the Mariners, their Peoria, Ariz. spring training neighbors. The Mariners used speed ---- and a late inning burst of power from Adrián Beltré in one game ---- to win the series and shove the Padres deeper into their early-season hole. After sweeping the New York Mets in a four game series that ended on June 8, the Padres climbed to 7 games back of first place Arizona. The sweep put the Mets 7.5 games behind the first place Philadelphia Phillies , sending the Padres and the Mets, expansion teams in the 1960s, in different directions. The Padres won two of three games in a series against the Dodgers at Petco Park. There was talk in San Diego that the Padres had a serious chance to get back in the race in a weak NL West. A road trip sent the Padres to play the Indians in Cleveland, where they lost two of the three games. During their final trip to Yankee Stadium, the site of Tony Gwynn's upperdeck World Series blast, the Padres were swept by the Yankees.
They returned to Petco and dropped two of three to the Tigers. They were then swept by the Twins and Mariners. Returning to National League competition didn't help much, as Padres lost two of three in Colorado to the Rockies. Powered by former Diamondbacks outfielder Scott Hairston, the Padres won two of three in Arizona. The team couldn't sustain the momentum however and they lost two of three to the Marlins at Petco Park. In the last series before the All-Star break, the Padres lost two of three to the Braves. Adrian Gonzalez represented the Padres at the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, going 1–3 with an RBI. Gonzalez made a nice scoop on a throw from catcher Russell Martin during a tense moment late in the game but he struck out with a chance to drive in the go-ahead run late in the game. According to media reports, Gonzalez was asked during an All-Star game media session what it would take for the Padres to make the playoffs. He said 30 wins. When the interviewer asked if he thought that was possible, Gonzalez glared at the interviewer and didn't answer the question.
On July 17, the Padres traded former San Diego State great Tony Clark to the Diamondbacks for minor league pitcher Evan Scribner. Following the All-Star break, the Padres would continue to struggle, getting swept in a four game series in St. Louis and losing two of three in Cincinnati. A trip to Pittsburgh proved to be the tonic the team needed. The Padres won three of four in the Steel City and during the series the Pirates traded former Padre underachiever Xavier Nady to the Yankees for prospects. Back home, the Padres won the first game of the series against the division leading Diamondbacks. The win gave Greg Maddux 351 career wins and he tipped his hat to the crowd when he left with a lead. Late in August, the team parted ways with Greg Maddux by trading him to the Los Angeles Dodgers .
As this disastrous season started to come to a close, questions about the coaching staff started swirling like crazy. In mid-September, Hitting Coach Wally Joyner resigned due to the teams lackluster offense and a difference in philosophy with upper management (most notably, CEO Sandy Alderson ). It seems that Joyner beat the Padres to the punch, as he was likely to be replaced at the end of the season. The team finished off a 63–99 season on September 28 with a 10–6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates finishing 5th in the NL West, 21 games behind the division leader Los Angeles Dodgers .
On September 29, the team renewed the contracts of Manager Bud Black , Pitching Coach Darren Balsley , Bullpen Coach Darrell Akerfelds , 3rd Base Coach Glenn Hoffman (brother of closer Trevor Hoffman ) and 1st Base Coach Rick Renteria . Only Bench Coach Craig Colbert was not renewed and because of Wally Joyner 's earlier resignation the team had no Hitting Coach to bring back. On Oct. 10, the Padres offered Trevor Hoffman a $4 million salary for 2009 plus a $4 million club option in 2010 then on Nov. 11th the Padres withdrew the $4 million offer to the all-time saves leader and making him a free agent.
The Padres opened 2009 April 6 versus the rival Los Angeles Dodgers at home, losing 4–1 and splitting the four game series. They then swept the Giants, also at home in three games. Then they took 2 of 3 from the Mets to ruin the 1st series at Citi Field . In that series, Jody Gerut became the first player in major league history to open a new ballpark with a leadoff home run.
After the 1st 3 series the Pads were tied with the Dodgers for 1st place at 7–3. After the hot start however, the Padres stumbled and were 25–25 as of May 31. Early in the season, the Padres acquired Tony Gwynn, Jr. , son of franchise great Tony Gwynn from the Milwaukee Brewers . San Diego finished 75–87, fourth in the NL West , only ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks .
On April 12, 2010, (Padres home opener) the Padres scored 17 runs against the Atlanta Braves as they went on to win 17–2. (Including a 10 run 4th inning making it the most runs in one half inning of baseball in Petco Park's history)
In the Padres' 1–0 win over the San Francisco Giants on April 20, San Diego won despite San Francisco's Jonathan Sanchez and Sergio Romo limiting them to just one hit, one of the very rare occasions that a team won with just one hit.
Even though the Padres never had a pitcher who threw a perfect game, Mat Latos threw a one hitter in a 1–0 win over the Giants on May 13.
On May 29, the Giants signed free agent outfielder Pat Burrell . [ 16 ] Padres CEO Jeff Moorad , Burrell's friend and his former agent, would later say he regretted not recruiting Burrell to the Padres.
On May 31, the Padres played 51 games and are 2.0 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers . They had one of the highest winning percentages in the National League despite having poor attendance and one of the worst payrolls in the MLB . The Padres had one of the lowest ERA in the National League .
On June 11, the Padres had 36 wins and 25 losses. They were tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers in first place.
On June 14, in the Padres' 6–3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays , an earthquake shook Petco Park . Many fans and Cito Gaston , the Blue Jays' manager, felt it, but most of the players didn't feel it. Gaston reported that he felt the dugout move side from side a little.
On June 25, the Padres won the first game of a three game series against the Florida Marlins . Giving them 43 wins and 30 losses. In contrast, the Padres record after 73 games in 2009 was 32 wins with 41 losses. [ 19 ] There were constant rumors and talks about the possible trade of All-Star first baseman and Gold Glove winner Adrian Gonzalez .
On August 18, the Padres moved 6 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants giving them their biggest division lead of the season
On August 26 The Padres started a 10 game losing streak by losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks 5–11. The losing streak went in to the month of September and ended on September 6 when they beat the LA Dodgers 4–2.
On September 26, the Padres (87–67) had a 1 ⁄ 2 -game lead over the Giants (87–68).
On September 30, the Padres fell 3 games behind the San Francisco Giants after losing 3 out of 4 games to the Chicago Cubs, putting them on the brink of elimination. With a 3–0 loss on October 3 the final game of the season, the Padres were officially eliminated from playoff contention and the Giants won the division. The Padres led the NL West for 148 days in 2011.
From 1969 to 1993, the Padres held Spring Training in Yuma, Arizona at Desert Sun Stadium . Due to the short driving distance and direct highway route (170 miles, all on Interstate 8 ), Yuma was very popular with Padres fans, and many fans would travel by car from San Diego for Spring Training games. The move from Yuma to Peoria was very controversial, but was defended by the team as a reflection on the low quality of facilities in Yuma and the long travel necessary to play against other Arizona-based Spring Training teams (whose sites were all in the Phoenix and Tucson areas, both rather far from Yuma).
The San Diego Padres have used six different logos and four different color combinations throughout their history. Their first logo depicts a friar swinging a bat with Padres written at the top while standing in a sun-like figure with San Diego Padres on the exterior of it. The "Swinging Friar" has popped up on the uniform on and off ever since (he is currently on the left sleeve of the navy alternate jersey) although the head of the friar has been tweaked from the original in recent years, and it is currently the mascot of the team. The original team colors were the brown and gold of the original logo.
In 1985, the Padres switched to using a script-like logo in which Padres was written sloped up. That would later become a script logo for the Padres. The team's colors were changed to brown and orange and remained this way through the 1990 season.
In 1989, the Padres took the scripted Padres logo that was used from 1985–1988 and put it in a tan ring that read "San Diego Baseball Club" with a striped center. In 1991, the logo was changed to a silver ring with the Padres script changed from brown to blue. The logo only lasted one year, as the Padres changed their logo for the third time in three years, again by switching colors of the ring. The logo became a white ring with fewer stripes in the center and a darker blue Padres script with orange shadows. In 1991, the team's colors were also changed, to a combination of orange and navy blue.
The logo was completely changed when the team changed stadiums between the 2003 and 2004 seasons, as the logo now looks like home plate at a baseball field with San Diego written in sand font at the top right corner and the Padres new script written completely across the center. Waves finish the bottom of the plate. Navy remains but a sandy beige replaces orange as a secondary color. The team's colors were also changed, to navy blue and sand brown. The San Diego has been removed from the top right corner of the logo for the 2011 season.
PETCO Park , home of the San Diego Padres (2004–present) Founded: 1969 ( National League expansion) Current uniform colors: Dark blue , Sand , and White Logo design: White interlocking 'S' and 'D' Hometown Hero : Tony Gwynn TV Play by Play: Dick Enberg , Mark Grant , Tony Gwynn (Occasionally), Mark Neely (substitute), Nicknames: The Friars, the "Pads" (pronounced as "Pods") Most Winning Season: (1998) 98–64. Western Division Title and National League Pennant Winners. Most Losing Season: (1969) 52–110 Local Television: Channel 4 San Diego ( 4SD ) (Cable TV only; not available over the air.) Local Radio: 1090 AM XX 1090 (pronounced "Double X") , La Poderosa 860 AM (en español) . Spring Training Facility: Peoria Sports Complex , Peoria, AZ Rivals: Arizona Diamondbacks (Division), Colorado Rockies (Division), Los Angeles Dodgers (Division, geographical), San Francisco Giants (Division), St. Louis Cardinals (Post-Season), Seattle Mariners (Inter-league)
The San Diego Chargers are a professional American football team based in San Diego , California . They are currently members of the Western Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The club began play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League , and spent its first season in Los Angeles, California before moving to San Diego in 1961. [ 1 ] The Chargers play their home games at Qualcomm Stadium . Ever since the Rams and the Raiders left Los Angeles in 1994 , the Chargers are currently the only team based in Southern California .
The Chargers are the only team to start a season 0–4 and make the playoffs ( 1992 ), and the only team to start a season 4–8 and make the playoffs ( 2008 ). In addition, they are one of only 5 NFL teams since 1970 to rank first in overall offense and defense in the same season ( 2010 ), but the only team to achieve that feat without making the playoffs.
The Chargers won one AFL title in 1963 and reached the AFL playoffs five times and the AFL Championship four times before joining the NFL ( 1970 ) as part of the AFL-NFL Merger . [ 1 ] In the 34 years since then, the Chargers have made ten trips to the playoffs and four appearances in the AFC Championship game. [ 1 ] At the end of the 1994 season , the Chargers faced the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX and fell 49–26. [ 1 ] The Chargers have six players and one coach enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio : wide receiver Lance Alworth ( 1962 -1970), defensive end Fred Dean ( 1975 – 1981 ), quarterback Dan Fouts ( 1973 – 1987 ), head coach/ general manager Sid Gillman (1960– 1969 , 1971 ), wide receiver Charlie Joiner ( 1976 – 1986 ), offensive lineman Ron Mix (1960–1969) and tight end Kellen Winslow ( 1979 -1987).
According to the Official Site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Barron Hilton agreed after his general manager, Frank Ready picked the Chargers name when he purchased an AFL franchise for Los Angeles. The Chargers played in Los Angeles in 1960 and moved to San Diego in 1961. “I liked it because they were yelling ‘charge' and sounding the bugle at Dodgers Stadium and at USC games.”
The Chargers only spent one season in Los Angeles before moving to San Diego in 1961 . The early AFL years of the San Diego Chargers were highlighted by the outstanding play of wide receiver Lance Alworth with 543 receptions for 10,266 yards in his 11-AFL/NFL-season career. In addition he set the pro football record of consecutive games with a reception (96) during his career.
Their only coach for the ten year life of the AFL was Sid Gillman, a Hall of Famer.who was considered the foremost authority on the forward passing offense of his era. With players such as Alworth, Paul Lowe , Keith Lincoln and John Hadl , the high-scoring Chargers won divisional crowns five of the league's first six seasons and the AFL title in 1963 with a 51–10 victory over the Boston Patriots .They also played defense, as indicated by their professional football record 49 pass interceptions in 1961, and featured AFL Rookie of the Year defensive end Earl Faison .The Chargers were the originators of the term " Fearsome Foursome " to describe their all-star defensive line, [ citation needed ] anchored by Faison and Ernie Ladd (the latter also excelled in professional wrestling ).The phrase was later appropriated by the Los Angeles Rams . Hilton sold the Chargers to a group headed by Eugene Klein and Sam Schulman in August 1966. The following year the Chargers began "head to head" competition with the older NFL with a preseason loss to the Detroit Lions. The Chargers defeated the defending Super Bowl III champion New York Jets 34–27 before a record San Diego Stadium crowd of 54,042 on September 29, 1969. Alworth once again led the team in receptions with 64 and 1,003 yards with 4 touchdowns. The team also saw Gillman step down due to health and offensive backfield coach Charlie Waller promoted to head coach after the completion of the regular season. Gillman did remain with the club as the general manager.
In 1970 the San Diego Chargers were placed into the AFC West division after the NFL merger with the AFL. [ 10 ] [ 11 ] But by then, the Chargers fell on hard times; Gillman, who had returned as general manager, stepped down in 1971, and many of the Charger players from the 1960s had already either retired or had been traded. [ 12 ] The Chargers acquired veteran players like Deacon Jones [ 13 ] and Johnny Unitas , [ 14 ] however it was at the later stages of their careers and the team struggled, placing third or fourth in the AFC West each year from 1970 to 1978 .
1978 was marked by the " Holy Roller " game, or as Chargers fans call it the "Immaculate Deception". It was a game-winning play executed by the Oakland Raiders against the Chargers on September 10, in San Diego at Jack Murphy Stadium. [ 15 ] With 10 seconds left in the game, the Raiders had possession of the ball at the Chargers' 14-yard line, trailing 20–14. Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler took the snap and found himself about to be sacked by Chargers linebacker Woodrow Lowe on the 24-yard line. Stabler fumbled the ball forward , and it rolled forward towards the San Diego goal line. Running back Pete Banaszak tried to recover the ball on the 12-yard line, but could not keep his footing, and the ball was pushed even closer to the end zone. Raiders tight end Dave Casper was the next player to reach the ball but he also could not get a hand on it. He batted and kicked the ball into the end zone, where he fell on it for the game-tying touchdown as time ran out. With the ensuing extra point by placekicker Errol Mann , the Raiders won, 21–20. [ 15 ] What many Charger fans believed should have been called an incomplete pass (and possibly intentional grounding) was seen as a fumble and the rest of the play involved batting of the ball forward towards the end zone where the Raiders ultimately recovered it for a touchdown. [ 15 ] As a result of this play, NFL rules were changed so that, in the last two minutes of a half or game, the only offensive player allowed to advance a fumbled ball is the player who originally fumbled. If any other offensive player recovers the fumble and advances the ball, after the play the line of scrimmage is the spot of the original fumble.
1979 marked a turning point for the Chargers franchise as The Sporting News named team general manager John Sanders NFL Executive of the Year after balloting of other NFL executives. [ 16 ] Fouts set an NFL record with his fourth consecutive 300-yard passing game, in a game in which he threw for 303 yards against the Raiders. [ 12 ] Coached by Don Coryell (with an offense nicknamed " Air Coryell "), featuring Fouts throwing to tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receivers John Jefferson and Charlie Joiner , they clinched their first playoff berth in 14 years with a 35–0 victory against the New Orleans Saints . On December 17, the Chargers defeated the Denver Broncos 17–7 for their first AFC West division title since the AFL-NFL merger before a national Monday Night Football television audience and their home crowd. [ 12 ] Their time in the playoffs was short as they would lose to the Houston Oilers 17–14 loss in the divisional round. Ron Mix became the second AFL player and second Charger to be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, during halftime of the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl. [ 12 ]
The 1980 team saw the team trade for running back Chuck Muncie , and Fouts set a club record with 444 yards passing in the Chargers' 44–7 victory over the New York Giants . [ 17 ] Kellen Winslow caught 10 passes for 171 yards and Chargers clinched their second straight AFC West title by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 26–17 and finished the regular season with an 11–5 record. Jefferson (1,340), Winslow (1,290), and Joiner (1,132) became the first trio on the same team to have 1,000 yards receiving in a season. The Chargers' defense led the NFL in sacks (60) spearheaded by the frontline of 1975 Chargers' draftees Dean, Gary "Big Hands" Johnson and Louie Kelcher . The trio, along with Leroy Jones formed a defensive frontline that was locally nicknamed The Bruise Brothers, coined from a popular act at the time, The Blues Brothers . In the playoffs , they won the divisional round 20–14 over the Buffalo Bills . However, they fell one game shy of Super Bowl XV in a 34–27 loss to the eventual-champion Raiders.2008 San Diego Chargers playing against the Denver Broncos
In 1981 , the Chargers won their third straight AFC West title with a 10–6 season. After the division titles of the 1979 and 1980 seasons, contract disputes arose and owner Klein would refuse to renegotiate players' contracts. They traded wide receiver John Jefferson to the Green Bay Packers after he held out for an increase in salary but replaced him with Wes Chandler. Defensive end Dean also became involved in a hold out and was traded to the 49ers. [ 18 ] Dean contends he was making the same amount of money as his brother-in-law who was a truck driver. [ 19 ] Dean would win UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year (while playing in only 11 games) that same year en route to a Super Bowl victory and help the 49ers to another Super Bowl title two years later. Dean's loss was particularly damaging to the Chargers' Super Bowl chances as the defense weakened afterwards, surrendering the most passing yards in the NFL in both 1981 [ 20 ] and 1982. [ 21 ]
In the 1981 playoffs , the Chargers managed to outlast the Miami Dolphins in the divisional round, 41–38, in a game that became known as The Epic in Miami . The game was voted as the best game in NFL history by a panel of ESPN journalists. The temperature was 85°F with high humidity (29.4°C) at the Miami Orange Bowl , [ 22 ] but it did not stop either team's offense. The Chargers were led by quarterback Dan Fouts who made the Pro Bowl for the third year in a row, [ 23 ] setting an NFL single season record at that point and time of 4,802 yards and 33 touchdowns. [ 24 ] The Dolphins were led by head coach Don Shula and featured a defense that gave up the fifth-fewest points in the NFL in the regular season. [ 25 ]
This game set playoff records for the most points scored in a playoff game (79), [ 26 ] the most total yards by both teams (1,036), [ 26 ] and most passing yards by both teams (809). [ 26 ] Chargers placekicker Rolf Benirschke eventually kicked the winning 29-yard field goal after 13:52 of overtime to help San Diego beat Miami, 41–38. The image of an exhausted tight end Kellen Winslow, who finished the game with 13 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown and one blocked field goal, being helped off the field by two of his Chargers teammates has been replayed countless times. Kellen Winslow was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995. [ 27 ]
However, the eventual-AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals , playing in their first AFC Championship Game , defeated the Chargers 27–7 in what became known as the Freezer Bowl . The temperature of nine degrees below zero with a wind-chill factor of minus 59 made this the coldest weather conditions for a title game in the history of the NFL. [ 28 ] Chargers owner Eugene Klein tried to get the NFL and Bengals to postpone the game but he was turned down.
"I can't say how much it affected us, because we did make it to the AFC championship game," said Johnson on the loss of fellow lineman Dean. "But I could say if we had more pass rush from the corner, it might've been different. [ 29 ] "
During the strike shortened 1982 season , Fouts averaged what is still a record of 320 yards passing per game. [ 30 ] Highlights that season included back-to-back victories against the 1981 Super Bowl teams San Francisco (41–37) and Cincinnati (50–34) in which Fouts threw for over 400 yards in each game to lead the Chargers to shootout victories. [ 31 ] The December 20th, 1982 Cincinnati game was a rematch of the 1981 American Football Conference Championship Game . The Chargers would generate a total offensive yardage record of 661 (501 yards passing, 175 yards rushing) that still stands as the most in team history in defeating Cincinnati . [ 32 ] Also during the year, Chandler, set the record of 129 yards receiving per game that is still an NFL record. [ 33 ] The Chargers made it back to the playoffs , but after beating the Steelers in the first round, they lost to the Dolphins 34–13 in a rematch of their playoff game from the previous season. [ 17 ] That loss began a slide for the Chargers, who from 1983 to 1991 failed to make the National Football League playoffs every season.
In 1984 Klein cut salary in preparation of selling the team, sending defensive linemen Johnson and Kelcher to San Francisco, where they would join Dean and offensive tackle Billy Shields for another 49ers championship in Super Bowl XXIV . [ 18 ] Alex Spanos purchased a majority interest in San Diego from Klein on August 1. Alex G. Spanos still owns 97% of the team and George Pernicano owns the other 3%. Benirschke was named "Miller Man of the Year" and Joiner set an NFL record with his 650th pass reception in the fourth quarter of the game at Pittsburgh. [ 17 ] In 1985 guard Ed White set an NFL record by playing in 241 NFL games, most all-time among offensive linemen. Lionel "Little Train" James , a mere 5'6" and 171 pound running back, set NFL record of 2,535 all-purpose yards while also setting a record of 1,027 receiving yards by a running back. [ 34 ] Al Saunders was named the seventh head coach in Chargers history in 1986 following the resignation of Coryell. In 1987 Joiner retired to become receivers coach of the Chargers. The Chargers finished with an 8—7 record, their first winning record since 1982, despite winding up with six straight losses. In 1988 Fouts retired after a 15-year career in which he set seven NFL records and 42 club records, and became the NFL's second most prolific passer of all-time with 43,040 yards. Fouts's jersey number (14) was retired at halftime of "Dan Fouts Day" game in San Diego.
In 1989 Dan Henning , a former Chargers quarterback, Washington Redskins assistant, and Atlanta Falcons head coach, was named the eighth head coach in Chargers history. [ 17 ] Marion Butts set a club record with 39 carries and a team rookie record with 176 yards in Chargers' 20–13 win in Kansas City. [ 17 ] After a three-year stint as Director of Football Operations, Steve Ortmayer was released after the season and replaced by Bobby Beathard . [ 17 ]
Henning's tenure with the Chargers lasted three seasons as Bobby Ross was hired as head coach in 1992 and the Chargers acquired quarterback Stan Humphries in a trade with Redskins. [ 35 ] The Chargers would lose their first four games of the season and come back to become the first 0–4 team to make the playoffs as they won 11 of the last 12 games and clinched the AFC West title. Ross was named NFL Coach of the Year for the Chargers' dramatic turnaround by Pro Football Weekly . [ 35 ] [ 36 ] In the first round of the playoffs, the Chargers shut out the Kansas City Chiefs 17–0, but the Dolphins shut out the Chargers in the divisional playoffs to eliminate the Chargers. In 1993 , the Chargers finished 8–8 (fourth in their division). [ 35 ]
In the 1994 season, the Chargers made their first and, so far, only Super Bowl appearance, against the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX . They got to the Super Bowl by winning their first six regular season games, the only NFL team to do so in 1994, and finished the season 11–5. Quarterback Stan Humphries and wide receiver Tony Martin combined on a 99-yard touchdown completion to tie an NFL record during a defeat of the Seattle Seahawks , 27–10. They would become the 1994 AFC West Division champions behind a defense led by linebacker Junior Seau , defensive tackles Reuben Davis and Shawn Lee , defensive end Leslie O'Neal and an offense keyed by running back Natrone Means , Humphries and Martin. The Chargers had upset victories over the Dolphins and Steelers in the AFC playoffs . Despite those two close triumphs (22–21 against the Dolphins in the Divisional Round, and 17–13 against the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game), the Chargers lost Super Bowl XXIX to the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 49–26, who were led by quarterback Steve Young ( Super Bowl MVP ) and wide receiver Jerry Rice .
Despite the lopsided loss in the Super Bowl, Beathard, who traded for or drafted the bulk of the Chargers roster, [ 37 ] and who hired coach Ross, was named the NFL's smartest man by Sports Illustrated , [ 38 ] and became the only general manager to lead three different teams to the Super Bowl (Chargers, Dolphins, Redskins). [ 39 ]
The Chargers follow-up year in 1995 didn't bring the same success of the previous season, but the team still managed to get into the playoffs with a five-game winning streak to end the season at 9–7. However, in the first round, the Chargers were eliminated by the Indianapolis Colts in a 35–20 defeat. [ 40 ]
In 1996, running back Rodney Culver and his wife, Karen, were killed in the crash of ValuJet Airlines Flight 592 in the Florida Everglades . Culver was the second player in team history to die while on the active roster after David Griggs was killed in a one-car accident in Davie, Florida 11 months earlier. [ 35 ] 1997 would find Ross and Beathard at odds with one another and would result in Ross and his staff being released. [ 35 ] The Chargers selected Kevin Gilbride to become their new head coach. [ 35 ] Gilbride, whose coaching background with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oilers featured a more open passing attack would mark a major change in offensive style from the ball control ground game of Ross. [ 41 ] Beathard drafted quarterback Ryan Leaf after the Indianapolis Colts selected Peyton Manning with the first pick in the 1998 NFL Draft . The Chargers ended up trading several players and draft choices to the Arizona Cardinals in order to move up to the second pick and select Ryan Leaf. The Chargers would see the team struggle in pass protection resulting in Leaf suffering several concussions and his retirement from the game. [ 42 ] Gilbride was replaced by interim head coach June Jones , who was on the Chargers' staff before the hire. [ 35 ] Jones would leave the team at the end of the season to coach at the University of Hawaii and the Chargers would name former Oregon State University head coach Mike Riley as their new head coach. [ 35 ] Leaf wound up having a disappointing career with the Chargers after a great deal of controversy with both the Charger management as well as the press and his teammates. [ 18 ] His failure to be the player the team envisioned was seen as a black mark on the franchise and will be remembered by some as one of the worst draft/trades in the history of pro football. [ 18 ] Quarterback Jim Harbaugh , who was acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens for a conditional draft choice in 2000, became the Chargers starting quarterback. Beathard retired in April 2000 and was replaced January 2001 by John Butler , former general manager of the Bills. [ 43 ] From 1996 to 2003 , the Chargers had eight-straight seasons where they were .500 or worse. [ 44 ]
2001 saw Norv Turner , the former head coach of the Redskins, named offensive coordinator by Riley. [ 43 ] Turner would go on to install the offense that he coached with the Dallas Cowboys under Jimmy Johnson . [ 45 ] Turner learned the offense from Ernie Zampese , former offense coordinator during the Coryell era, while the two were on the Los Angeles Rams coaching staff. The Chargers signed Heisman Trophy winner free agent quarterback Doug Flutie , formerly with the Bills and traded the team's first overall selection in the 2001 NFL Draft to the Atlanta Falcons for the first round selection (fifth overall) and third-round selection in the same draft. In addition the Chargers obtained wide receiver/kick returner Tim Dwight and the Falcons' second-round draft selection in the 2002 NFL Draft . The Chargers used those selections in the 2001 draft to select Texas Christian University running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Purdue University quarterback Drew Brees . [ 43 ]
Hired as a replacement to Riley, Marty Schottenheimer 's Chargers squad opened the 2002 season with four straight victories making him the only coach in team history to win his first four games. [ 43 ] Butler would succumb to cancer after a nine-month struggle in April 2003. [ 43 ] Replacing Butler was A. J. Smith , who was named Executive Vice President-General Manager, replacing his close friend. Smith and Butler had worked together with the Bills playing key roles with Buffalo's Super Bowl teams. [ 46 ] In 2003, the Chargers traded Seau to the Dolphins for a draft pick in 2004 NFL Draft . Seau was selected to 2003 Pro Bowl , his 12th Pro Bowl selection of his career, and in his final season with the Chargers, he was chosen by teammates as the recipient of the Emil Karas Award as the team's Most Inspirational Player. [ 47 ] Also in 2003, Tomlinson accumalated 195 total yards from scrimmage in a late season game against the Packers to raise his season total to 2,011 and became the first player in team history and the eighth player in NFL history to record consecutive 2,000-yard seasons. [ 43 ] Tomlinson also became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes in the same season . [ 43 ]
Although the Chargers were tied with three other teams for the worst record of the 2003 NFL season, the league's tie-breaking system gave San Diego the number one pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. With this pick, the Chargers selected Quarterback Eli Manning from the University of Mississippi despite Manning's stated desire to play elsewhere. [ 48 ] New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi , who had been in trade negotiations for several weeks before the draft with the Chargers, selected quarterback Philip Rivers fourth and traded him along with additional draft picks to the Chargers. [ 49 ] Rivers was expected to compete for the starting quarterback job, but he held out of training camp in a contract dispute. [ 50 ] Drew Brees , who received the majority of snaps at quarterback during Rivers' hold out, would retain the starting quarterback position. [ 51 ] The team earned a trip back to the post-season in 2004 by capturing the AFC West division title with a 12–4 regular season record. The Chargers entered the first round of the playoffs but were eliminated by the New York Jets , who won in overtime 20–17. Rookie kicker Nate Kaeding missed a 40-yard field goal that would have advanced San Diego into the next round, thus opening the door for a Jets victory. Despite an abrupt ending to their season, Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer was named NFL Coach of the Year for the season, and Brees was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year .
During the 2005 NFL Draft , the Chargers drafted linebacker Shawne Merriman with a draft pick acquired from the Giants in the Eli Manning trade, who would go on to become a selection to the 2006 Pro Bowl and the 2005 Defensive NFL Rookie of the Year Award recipient. The team then used their second first round selection on defensive tackle Luis Castillo .The Chargers started the season without tight end Antonio Gates as he was suspended two games by Smith for holding out in training camp. [ 52 ] The 2005 season saw LaDainian Tomlinson 's 18-game touchdown scoring streak end as Kaeding had a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown in a 20–17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. [ 53 ] Facing the 13–0 Colts on the road, the Chargers took a 16–0 lead into the third quarter of the game, but the Colts responded with 17 points of their own to take a 1-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Chargers would retake the lead on a field goal by Kaeding then scored again on an 83-yard touchdown run by Michael Turner . However a week later, the Chargers lost on the road to the Chiefs as an injured Tomlinson rushed for only 47 yards. The Chargers would go on to lose their season finale to the Broncos, with Brees suffering a dislocated shoulder to end the Chargers' 9–7 season. Brees, whose contract expired at the end of that season, left the team and would sign with the New Orleans Saints .