By: LaShawn Encarnacion (aka The Dark Knight of Sports)
YES, the San Diego pro sports team may be without a championship but that does NOT mean they do not love their teams and the players who play for them. Three that are fan favorites.
Two will be inducted into the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame and the other into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Catcher Benito Santiago and shortstop Garry Templeton will be inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame Saturday night during ceremonies before the Padres-Phillies game at Petco Park. The ceremonies will begin around 5:15 p.m. PT with the game starting at 5:40 p.m. PT.
In addition to inducting Templeton and Santiago into the Padres Hall of Fame Saturday night, the club will honor Ford C. Frick Award winner Dick Enberg before Friday night’s opener in San Diego. Enberg was recently inducted into the broadcasters wing of the National Hall of Fame.
As a Padre, Santiago had a .264 average with 85 homers and 375 RBIs in 789 games — averaging more than 125 games a year behind the plate in his six seasons.
When asked about his upcoming induction Santiago remembered the fun times and his teammates he played with.
“I am so blessed to be going into the Padres Hall of Fame at the same time as Garry,” Santiago said. “He was one of the guys who really taught me how to play the game. Tempy helped me and Roberto Alomar when Roberto was a rookie the next year.
As a Padre, Santiago was voted to the starting National League lineup for three All-Star Games in six seasons. Only Tony Gwynn was voted an All-Star starter more times than Santiago. The former catcher is the only Padre other than Gwynn to win three Silver Slugger awards.
Shortstop Garry Templeton finished his 6-year career with a career average of .271 with 2,096 hits and 728 RBI. Numbers that clearly would never make the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame but this is the local team’s Hall of Fame and Templeton was very influential in the performance of the Padres in the 80’s.
The combination of him, Tony Gwynn and Steve Garvey in the early 80’s to the late 80’s and early 90’s when Benito Santiago throwing from his knees and a rookie second baseman by the name of Roberto Alomar came and electrified the league. Templeton was a leader and well-respected by the fans of San Diego and the Padres franchise, even after a very publicized “one finger salute.”
The third San Diego player to be inducted into their proper Hall of Fame is a man who played for the San Diego Chargers (1990-2002), Miami Dolphins (2003-05), New England Patriots (2006-09). That mad is ONE Junior Seau.
Besides Tony Gwynn, no one name went together with San Diego like that of Junior Seau. Coming out of Oceanside High and heading to play for the USC Trojans, Seau came home to the Chargers in 1990 and the team got the jolt of lighting it so desperately needed since the departure of Dan Fouts and the Chargers of old. Seau led his team to their first and only Super Bowl appearances in the 1994-1995 season, along with Leslie O’Neal and all those defensive studs while Natrone Means and Stan Humphries commanded the offensive side. But even that carpet ride season who not his best for that was saved for the 1998 season. Most will remember that one, well most Charger fans will.
You might recognize the season. Chargers fans certainly do, as it was the year the club drafted eventual bust Ryan Leaf — the JaMarcus Russell of the 1990s — second overall. So you know the offense did nothing (the team passer rating was 44.9 — ugh). Yet Seau drove a defensive unit that did everything it could to keep San Diego in games. Though the Bolts had one of the worst passing games in the NFL (perhaps in years), the defense finished No. 1. San Diego led the NFL in rushing yards allowed, yards per play allowed and forcing three-and-out drives. Seau was more than simply a leader, as he would receive first-team All-Pro honors from The Associated Press, the Pro Football Writers of America and The Sporting News. Whether he was stuffing runs, making more than 100 tackles or getting everyone lined up, Seau was a glorious player on the most inglorious of teams.
This weekend will most certainly be a weekend to celebrate San Diego sports, both on a local level with the San Diego Padres and over in Canton, Ohio as San Diego’s second favorite son arrives in his proper place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I wonder if the Titontron at Petco Park will be tuned into the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony during the baseball game?
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