1969: Padres Complete Sweep in First Ever Series

April 10, 1969, San Diego: Padres 2, Astros 0 (box score)

The first two games in Padres history had been dominated by pitching, and the third game proved no different. Right-hander Tom Griffin, a former first-round pick, made his big-league debut for the Astros. The Padres countered with journeyman southpaw Dick Kelley, who had gone 2-4 with a 2.76 ERA shuttling between the rotation and bullpen for Atlanta in ’68.

What a start it turned out to be for Kelley. Through six innings, he’d allowed only a walk to Dennis Menke and nothing else.

The Padres, meanwhile, had manufactured a run in the third on singles by Rafael Robles and Tony Gonzalez, and a ground out by Ollie Brown to give Kelley a 1-0 lead. Brown later led off the sixth inning with a homer to extend the Padres’ lead.

In the seventh, after retiring Joe Morgan on a pop fly to third baseman Ed Spiezio, Kelley faced Jimmy Wynn. Despite standing just 5’9″, Wynn represented a serious offensive threat. The man known as “The Toy Cannon” had knocked 26 homers the previous season while playing half his games in the cavernous Astrodome and finished second in the National League in walks.

Against Kelley, in front of fewer than 5,000 fans on that Thursday evening in April, Wynn smacked a single to left to break up the no-hitter. Kelley retired the next two batters to end the inning unscathed.

After working an uneventful eighth, Kelley came back out to finish what he’d started. The first batter of the inning, Jesus Alou, lined to center. Morgan followed with a walk, and manager Preston Gomez had seen enough. He pulled Kelley in favor of right-hander Frank Reberger.

The move paid immediate dividends, as Reberger induced Wynn to hit into a force play for the second out. Only one out remained between the Padres and a sweep in their first ever series. Doug Rader, however, had other ideas and drove a single to left to put runners at the corners.

Gomez replaced Reberger with southpaw Billy McCool. An All-Star with the Reds three years earlier at age 21, McCool faced reserve outfielder Norm Miller, who had come on to pinch hit for Bob Watson. McCool plunked Miller to load the bases, bringing Menke to the plate. Menke promptly flied out to Gonzalez in center, sealing the victory for the Padres, who improved to 3-0 and moved into a first-place tie with the Atlanta Braves.

Trivia: Griffin, the starter for Houston, later pitched for the Padres in 1976 and 1977.

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6 Responses »

  1. Wow, this Padres franchise must be really good. Starting with a 3 game sweep, only allowing 1 run in the series, and a near no-hitter in the third game of existence. Surely this team must have won several World Series by now and be a perennial contender. At the very least, they have to have had several no-hitters thrown, right?

  2. Am I understanding correctly…. on the third game EVER for the Padres. EVER EVER EVER… only five thousand people showed up?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  3. #2: Yep, and it gets worse.

  4. As a 9 year old, I inexplicably became a fan of one the new teams, the Padres. Inexplicable because, as now, I live in NY. My only experience with the team other than when they played the Mets was studying the daily box scores. very day I would excitedly look if Nate Colbert hit a home run or if Frank Reberger pitched again.

    The team started out okay (.400ish) and then spent the summer doing almost nothing but losing.

    I know these retro segments are not generating a lot of postings but I for one am enjoying them.

  5. #4: Thanks, Lem; glad to hear it. I’m enjoying the research, too.

  6. 4 … I was 10 this first summer … and living out on Pt Loma … and I, too, spent many summers waiting for Nate Colbert HRs … it wasn’t pretty, but it burned a pretty deep fandom into my soul …