BOOK REVIEW: 100 THINGS PADRES FANS SHOULD KNOW & DO BEFORE THEY DIE

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100 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, by Kirk Kenney (Triumph Books, Chicago, Illinois, 2016, 269 pages).

By Dennis Moore

May 3, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) - Baseball has been called “America’s Pastime,” and for those who have played or enjoyed watching the game as I have, they will absolutely fall in love with the book by Kirk Kenney; 100 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. With a foreword by former San Diego Padres’ pitcher Randy Jones, this book resurrected many of my childhood memories and dreams about actually playing in the Major Leagues.

Kenney has been a sportswriter for the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1985. He graduated from San Diego State, where he majored in business and minored in journalism. He lives in San Diego. Veteran sportswriter Kenney combines his knowledge and passion for all things Padres to produce a thoughtful, ranked list of 100 most memorable moments, colorful personalities and must-do activities that make up the Padres experience. From the lows of the inaugural 110 loss season to the World Series teams and everything in between, 100 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die has something for every fan. Highlights include:

  • A heartfelt foreword from Padres Hall of Fame member and former All-Star pitcher Randy Jones;
  • The incredible performance of Steve Garvey in the ’84 playoffs, including the walk-off homerun later voted the greatest sports moment in San Diego history;
  • A detailed look at the history and origin of the San Diego Chicken;
  • How to make the most of a trip to Padres spring training in Peoria, AZ;
  • A look behind the scenes at how the team was given the name “Padres”;
  • A trip down memory lane, looking back at Dock Ellis’s no hitter against the Padres thrown while under the influence of LSD.

Kenney’s book is replete with memorable photos of Hall of Fame and legendary figures in baseball, such as Tony Gwynn, Nate Colbert, Willie McCovey, Trevor Hoffman and Matt kemp.

Being a student of the game myself, and actually playing baseball as a child, I actually know all of the players that Kenney writes about in his book, and especially having gone to a number of games at Petco Park. I lived and breathed baseball as a child, and the only thing that kept me from being a major league player was contracting a bone disease (osteomyelitis) when I was around 8-years old. I was devastated by the fact that this would preempt me from playing the game I loved, but my consolation was that the Hall of Fame player for the New York Yankees, Mickey Mantle, contracted the same disease and flourished as a player.

There are many memorable passages in Kenney’s book, one of which is “Matt Kemp’s Cycle.”  Kenney points out that; “It seemed like everyone but Kemp knew the Padres were the only team in the majors that never had a batter hit for the cycle or a pitcher throw a no-hitter.” For those baseball novices, hitting for the cycle means getting a single, double, triple and home run in the same game. The first cycle in Padres history, it only took the better part of 47 years and 7,444 games to do it, and occurred on August 14, 2015 at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies.

Another feat and milestone was Nate Colbert hitting a record-tying five home runs against the Atlanta Braves on August 1, 1972, and collecting 13 RBIs to set a major league record (tied by St. Louis’ Mark Whiten in 1993). Ironically, in 1954, St. Louis first baseman Stan Musial had earlier set the major league record when he hit five home runs in a doubleheader against the visiting New York Giants. Kenney points out in his book, that Colbert would later state: “Stan Musial was my idol, I used to imitate his stance. I put (Musial’s) number six on everything….To tie him, it meant a lot.” Again, being a student of the game, having lived and breathed it as a child, I knew all of this. As a matter of fact, I have always been a St. Louis Cardinals fan from my early youth until this very day.

Padres first baseman Willie McCovey brought some much-needed star power to the lineup when the Padres acquired him from the San Francisco Giants following the 1973 season. I recall quite vividly  McCovey playing in the World Series for the San Francisco Giants against the New York Yankee, and hitting that line drive to 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson of the Yankees as the final out in that thrilling series win for the Yankees. I was just a little kid at the time, living and breathing baseball.

The passage in Kenney’s book; “Tony Talks with Ted”, is perhaps the most interesting and intriguing of the highlights in the book, as two of the greatest hitters of all time, Tony Gwynn and Ted Williams, are pictured sitting together and discussing hitting a baseball. If there is any truth to “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”, that picture and story by Kenney speaks volumes. Gwynn, who has been hailed as the greatest hitter of his generation, a genius with the bat who was in the middle of a career in which he would average .338 and collect eight batting titles, sat before Ted Williams who has been considered by some as the greatest hitter of all time, and was peppered by Williams with questions about how he approached the art of hitting a baseball. I would have loved to have been a “fly on the wall” in that discussion!

The profile of Padres player Dave Winfield, starting from his time as a University of Minnesota basketball player, to becoming one of the most accomplished athletes of all time, is also a noteworthy passage in Kenney’s book.

Kenney’s book provides a rich tapestry and pictorial history of the San Diego Padres baseball team and its iconic Petco Park baseball stadium. A focal part of the author’s book, which has personal memories and resonates with me, is his depiction of the venerable Petco Park. As I once lived on Park & Market street in the “Gaslamp” section of San Diego, within walking distance to the stadium, there were times when my daughter Brandy and I would walk to the games.

A couple of memorable games for me and my daughter at Petco Park were those between the Padres and Milwaukee Brewers (see us pictured here) and later between the St. Louis Cardinals. The St. Louis game stands out for a particular reason, for my daughter and I had to leave in the very 1st inning carrying a tray of gourmet food, due to Brandy getting mad at me over not immediately calling Sprint to change her phone number. Of course, she was only an early teenager, and didn’t understand the significance of my being there to see my favorite team and player, Albert Pujols.

This book is more than just about baseball – it is about human nature! Perhaps one of the most memorable moments in Padres history pointed out by the author, is that of TV entertainer Roseanne Barr insisting on singing the National Anthem at a Padres game. It was memorable, for all the wrong reasons. Roseanne Barr had the No. 1 rated TV show in the country in 1990. Needless to say, she botched the song, and the whole country was watching. The incident drew national attention, providing fodder for radio shows, TV commentators, and newspaper columnists for weeks to come. Even President Bush chimed in, calling it a “disgrace.” Padres player Tony Gwynn had similar feelings about Barr’s singing, stating: “I thought it was a disgrace. When they said she was going to sing the national anthem I thought something like this was going to happen.”

In defense of herself, Barr stated: “I meant no disrespect to the country and (people) fighting for the safety and freedoms of old loudmouth Jewish women,” Barr said, “I’m sorry some saw it that way.” Kenney compared Barr’s rendition of the national anthem to that of Whitney Houston’s rendition   of the national anthem before Super Bowl XXV, which remains the gold standard. To top it off, as stated by the author in this insightful and sometimes humorous book, Barr made an obscene gesture and spit as she stepped away from the microphone.

This tremendous book can be summed up by former Padres pitcher Randy Jones, who states in the foreword to Kenney’s book: “When you’re reading 100 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, you’re getting a great glimpse of past Padres lore as well as getting to know a few characters who have worn the Padres uniform. You’ll also enjoy many stories of the people wearing suits who continued to try to make this franchise better. This book reminds me why I have been so passionate about this game for nearly 60 years. I hope it’s a reminder to you all that sometimes dreams do come true.”

Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor of SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to the San Diego Union-Tribune, along with a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. He is the author of a book about Chicago politics; “The City That Works: Power, Politics and Corruption in Chicago.” Mr. Moore can be contacted at contractsagency@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.

 

Comments

A Book About Baseball?

I'm in! What caught my eye when I saw this article was that it concerned the San Diego Padres. Being the sports fan that I am, I was naturally drawn to it. My brother lives in San Diego and is a Padres fan, so my interest deepened. As I read the review, names and places I knew jumped out at me. I love that feeling of nostalgia! Loved the review, and looking forward to reading the book. Good subject! Dennis Moore continues to find them!

Baseball: America's Pastime, Always Pays Great Dividends

Although I'm not athletically inclined, I am a fan of good storytelling and history. I'm especially a fan of book reviewer, Dennis Moore and his ability to read large volumes of text; condense it into a comprehensive and intriguing way to make those of us who review his work, want to go out and purchase the reviewed work. As a lover of history, I'm excited when writers preserve the history of America's heroes. If author Kirk Kenney has any decades-old baseball memorabilia, I've seen a signed baseball by the right baseball legend go for as much as one million dollars.I hope there are enough Padres baseball fans to put his book into that category. Good luck to the author and many thanks to Dennis for his review and informing us that he's a diehard baseball fan with history of attending a Padres game. Dorothy Bracy Alston, author, educator, speaker.