If you’re a longtime fan of the San Diego Padres or just an avid baseball fan that likes to view historical shows, the MLB Network hits a grand slam with a special one-hour show on the 1984 Padres.
“Triumph and Tragedy: The 1984 San Diego Padres” is a recently-produced show on the Padres first-ever World Series team (they’ve only had two; the other was in 1998) and is must-see viewing for any Padres’ fan of that era.
The episode covers all the key storylines of the season, including a great segment on the famous beanbrawl day in Atlanta when manager Dick Williams ordered everybody on the pitching staff to throw at Atlanta Braves pitcher Pascual Perez until he was hit by a pitch. One of the most memorable brawls in baseball history occurred that Sunday afternoon but it was one of the things that brought the team together to make its big two-month final push to the postseason.
The Padres’ run to the World Series is portrayed nicely and accurately, complete with scenes of the thousands of fans who went to the stadium (then known as Jack Murphy Stadium) to welcome back the Padres after they were beaten apart by the Chicago Cubs in the first two games of the National League Championship Series. There’s even some rare video of Patrick Henry High alumnus Nick Magro — also known as the Pa Shrink — cheering on the players as they got off the bus.
As any Padres’ fan knows, that crazy scene began the amazing streak of the Padres winning the next three games to beat the Cubs. Normally quiet Garry Templeton waved his hat frantically at the fans during the Game 3 lineup introductions and the sweep was on. Steve Garvey hit the famous game-winning homer off Lee Smith to win Game 4 and Tim Flannery’s harmless ground ball to first base that went through the legs of Leon Durham started a Game 5 comeback that ended with a ground ball to Graig Nettles, who threw to second baseman Alan Wiggins for the forceout and final out.
The best part of the World Series portion of the show — the powerful Detroit Tigers beat the Padres in five games — was when Williams ordered closer Goose Gossage to intentionally walk Kirk Gibson with first base open and Gossage refused. Williams comes to the mound and they play the conversation and they also show Tigers manager Sparky Anderson yelling out to Gibson in disbelief: “They don’t want to walk you!”
About the time Williams reaches the dugout, Gibson blasts a towering three-run homer off the Goose to finish off the Padres.
Also, this isn’t just a feel-good piece where hard-line issues and the truth are glossed over. The show goes in-depth on the troubles of two deceased Padres — Wiggins and pitcher Eric Show — and the battle pitcher Dave Dravecky faced with cancer in his left arm, which led to an amputation when his arm broke while pitching for the San Francisco Giants.
Three people associated with that team are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown — Gossage, Williams and right fielder Tony Gwynn.
I found an online article that gives a synopsis of the program (http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20091027&content_id=7559192&vkey=&fext=.jsp). I reiterate that it was a well-done special worthy of an hour of any baseball fan’s time.