We're two days away from Opening Day (two days!), so it's time to start previewing the season. Inspired by an old feature on The Black Table, we're going team-by-team and distributing Four Things You Don't Know about them. If you have suggested oddities on your team, send them to us at email@example.com. Today: The San Diego Padres.
• 1. They Get Things Off To A Rollicking Start. Roger Mason is the only pitcher in major league history to have surrendered home runs to the first three batters of a game. It happened in San Diego on April 13, 1987. He started for the Giants. The first three Padres he faced were Marvell Wynne, Tony Gwynn and John Kruk, and he gave up a dinger to each. — (Thanks to Greg Frith)
• 2. They Bare All. 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." Just then a streaker raced across the field, eluding security personnel, prompting Kroc to shout "Throw him in jail!" It was Kroc who brought the world the Padres' brown-and-mustard pullover uniforms which have since gone down as the worst uniforms in the history of sports.
• 3. They Have Friends In Low Places. Center field Mike Cameron makes contributions to the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation for each base he steals during the season. It's a generous gesture by Cameron, and also by Brooks, who tried out for the Padres during spring training in 1998 and was cut.
• 4. When They Say 'Stay In School,' They Mean You. Pitcher Shawn Estes, an active member of the San Diego area "Stay in School" program, turned down a scholarship offer from Stanford University to sign with the Mariners in 1991.
(Monday: The Baltimore Orioles)
By the way, if any San Diego residents happen to be heading to Petco for the Padres-Giants game on Monday, we'd love to hear from you. We're curious how the Bonds reception goes.)