Sunday, May 05, 2013

PCL Padres Hall of Famers

Before the San Diego Padres were a pathetic major league franchise they spent 32 years as a plucky little Pacific Coast League minor league team. During those years they produced three players who ended up in the Hall of Fame.

Bobby Doerr
In 1936, the Hollywood Stars baseball club left Tinseltown when the rent on their ball field doubled and they were able to convince gullible politicians down south to build them a new facility and name it after the club's owner, Bill Lane. Along with the team came an 18 year-old second baseman. The kid had no power but he could hit singles, he clubbed 187 singles in 1936.

That was Bobby Doerr's last minor league season. In 1937 he was on the Boston Red Sox backing up journeyman infielder Eric McNair. The next year, at the age of 20, he took the starting job and held it for the next 14 years, missing one year due to war. Doerr developed some power as he matured, averaging 16 homers a season. Doerr was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1986, 35 years after he retired.

Ted Williams
That same year, 1936, a 17 year-old local high school kid tried out for the new baseball team. It was summer, school was out, and the kid knew he was a pretty good hitter. The Padres signed him up, it made good press to have a local boy on the team. The boy was okay, he had 107 at bats, hit .271, and had zero home runs.

The next year Teddy stayed with the Padres all season and hit 23 homers as the youngest player in the league. In 1938, Teddy was moved to the American Association where he dominated. Boston could wait no longer. At the age of 20, Ted Williams was elevated to the major leagues where he was one of the best hitters in the history of the game from the first day he stepped into Fenway Park. Ted Williams was a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Tony Perez
The young Cuban had been working his way up the Cincinnati Reds organization since starting with the Classs D Geneva Redlegs in 1960 where he had been teammates with another young star named Pete Rose. Four years later, the now 20 year-old was the starting first baseman with the Padres. That season, Tony had 34 home runs and 107 RBIs making him the second best player in the league (the best player was Costen Shockley whose major league career lasted two years where he hit .197).

Tony had a 23 year career, mostly with the Reds. He was never the best player in the league nor even the best player on his team, that would have been Pete Rose and Johnny Bench. But Tony was good enough for long enough to get elected to the Hall of Fame on his ninth try.

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