1969: Padres Return Home, Fall to Braves

April 21, 1969, San Diego: Braves 5, Padres 2 (box score)

Back home in San Diego, the Padres welcomed the Atlanta Braves to town for a brief two-game series. The Braves were led by Hank Aaron, whose 512 career home runs placed him fifth on the all-time leaderboard behind Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Willie Mays, and of course, Babe Ruth.

Johnny Podres started for the home team, while right-hander Ron Reed got the call for Atlanta. Reed had been named to the National League All-Star team as a rookie in 1968, but he’d gotten off to a rough start in his sophomore season.

Today, however, it was Podres’ (and the Padres’) turn to be treated rudely. Already down 1-0 in the top of the fourth, Podres served up a solo homer to Clete Boyer to extend the visitors’ lead. Two innings later, with Leon Everitt now on the mound, the Braves added two more runs on an Orlando Cepeda home run and a Bob Aspromonte double.

The Padres responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Tony Gonzalez and Ed Spiezio knocked RBI singles in the inning. With runners at first and second, though, Reed fanned Chris Cannizzaro to keep San Diego from narrowing the gap further.

After the Braves added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, the Padres had one last chance against closer Cecil Upshaw. The right-hander out of Centenary proceeded to retire San Diego in order, striking out pinch hitters Nate Colbert and Chris Krug to put the finishing touches on an Atlanta victory.

The Padres fell to 4-9 on the young season, 6 games back of the Braves and just ahead of Houston. No team in the big leagues had scored fewer runs (23) than the Padres, and only one (Cleveland) had a run differential worse than San Diego’s -38.

Trivia: Before embarking on a baseball career that spanned parts of 19 seasons, Reed spent two seasons as a forward for the NBA Detroit Pistons.

Elsewhere in the world: The Mothers of Invention released the double LP Uncle Meat; the final episode of The Avengers aired in the United States (some would say that the show ended when the delectable Diana Rigg left a year earlier, but that’s a debate for another forum).

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