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San Diego Padres
With the California sun on its side, you would think that San Diego would be immediately considered as an ideal location for a professional baseball franchise. However, it wasn't until 1968 that a Major League Baseball team arrived in America's Finest City. Since then, the San Diego Padres have played a brand of ball that may not always result in championships, but it's never driven fans to lose faith.
As an expansion team, the Padres were forced to ply their trade for many years before any sort of success would greet them. For the first decade of their existence, the club was probably best known for their visually arresting uniform colors of brown and yellow. Hurler Randy Jones won 20 games for the Friars in 1975 and nabbed a Cy Young the following season, but beyond that, the organization was an afterthought in the minds of baseball fans. That would all change in 1982 when the team signed first baseman Steve Garvey and introduced fans to a promising rookie named Tony Gwynn. Garvey, a longtime staple of the crosstown Dodgers, was on the backside of his career, but Gwynn managed to surpass any and all expectations.
A native of the area, Gwynn attended San Diego State University and in 1981 was drafted by both the Padres and the NBA's San Diego Clippers. Fortunately for Friars fans, Gwynn chose baseball, and thus, "Mr. Padre" was born. A wizard with a bat in his hands, Gwynn led the league in hitting eight times, collected five Gold Gloves, and was named to 15 All-Star teams. Most essentially, he also led the club to two World Series appearances in 1984 and '98. "He was one of the best players that I ever saw, and he was probably the smartest and most dedicated," former Padres manager Bruce Bochy once said. Gwynn retired in 2001 and was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
The sweet-swinging ways of "Mr. Padre" didn't go unnoticed in the baseball world, and in the '90s, the team began to look like a veritable contender. Third baseman Ken Caminiti, acquired in a blockbuster deal with the Houston Astros in 1994, mashed his way to MVP honors in 1996, while closer Trevor Hoffman emerged as one of the game's premier finishers.
In 2004, the team moved to their new digs of Petco Park. Now, in addition to serving up a quality product on the field, the organization was also flashing some seriously top-shelf food and drink options for its fans. Celebrated breweries such as Stone, Green Flash, and Ballast Point all set up shop inside the stadium, while hungry fans can look forward to offerings from Hodad's (and in case you're wondering, yes, this Hodad location does serve "frings," the heaven-sent combination of French fries and onion rings all in one basket.)
With a positively dreamy climate, a lively atmosphere and a competitive club, few teams can hold a candle to what the San Diego Padres offer.