SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — The San Diego Padres have been in Peoria for weeks at this season's spring training, but did you know they’ve been traveling to Arizona each spring for all 50 years of their history? From 1969 to 1993, the team practiced in Yuma and since 1994 they’ve called Peoria home for their pre-season games and practice.
As the excitement over the 2019 Padres season has reached a fever pitch with the team's acquisition of All-Star infielder Manny Machado, many are looking forward to the Padres season opener on March 28.
Meanwhile we’re taking a look back – at the spring training seasons of yesteryear.
Before the Pads start their golden anniversary season, travel back in time and across state lines with these vintage clips featuring notable Padres players including Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield and more.
News 8's Ted Leitner headed to Yuma, Arizona in March of 1979 for San Diego Padres spring training. Third baseman-turned-coach Doug Rader spoke to Ted about his reputation as a player and his plans for the Padres organization. Ted also took a ride around Yuma with Padres relief pitcher John D'Acquisto to see what the city had to offer ball players.
News 8's Jim Laslavic got an early glimpse of the San Diego Padres team in 1984 at spring training in Yuma, Arizona. Interviews with Steve Garvey, Ed Whitson and other players revealed their hopes for the upcoming season in which they won their first National League pennant. "If there's ever a time that we're gonna win it, it's gonna be this year," said one player.
As the San Diego Padres began their final spring training season in Yuma, Arizona, News 8's Rick Powers checked in with the players, management and fans about the upcoming season. Amidst many new faces on the team, Powers noted "the big three" expected to be successful in the 1993 season were Tony Gwynn, Fred McGriff and Gary Sheffield.
At the end of March 1993, the San Diego Padres played their last spring training game in Yuma, Arizona, and News 8's Rick Powers was there. Padres legend Tony Gwynn said he would miss playing in Yuma because after more than a decade he had finally found a good fishing spot nearby. The team had practiced in Yuma in 1969 but in 1994 moved to the City of Peoria, along with the Seattle Mariners to play at the first two-team spring training facility ever built, Peoria Sports Complex.
In February 1997, Gold Glove Award-winning third baseman Ken Caminiti arrived at spring training in Peoria, Arizona, with his San Diego Padres teammates. Just five months prior, Caminiti had undergone surgery to re-attach a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, but he was hopeful he would be ready for the season opener. Caminiti was also coming off of being named the National League MVP in 1996 - the only time a Padre received the honor in franchise history. He went on to earn himself another Golden Glove in the 1997 season and was named to the All-Star team. Sadly, Caminiti died in 2004 of a drug overdose. He was posthumously inducted into the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame in 2016.