|The Padres joined the National League in 1969, along with the Expos, in the Second Great Expansion. Their first decade was primarily a bust and in 1973 they almost moved to Washington, D.C.
In fact, Topps Baseball Card Co. actually printed cards for the '73 season with "Washington" in place of San Diego. The league helped quash that idea, and the Padres stayed in SoCal. Padre players of note in the 1970s included Nate Colbert, Cito Gaston, Johnny Grubb, Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Randy Jones, Gene Richards, and Gaylord Perry. Jones and Perry won Cy Young awards. Winfield was one of the best outfielders in the league before his departure to the Yankees prior to the 1981 campaign.
In a terrible move the club traded Smith to St. Louis for Garry Templeton, a swap of shortstops. Though Templeton solidified the middle for San Diego for close to a decade, Ozzie went on to a Hall of Fame caliber career for the Cardinals. In 1984 the Padres finally broke through, winning the NL West and advancing past the stumbling Cubs to the World Series. Unfortunately they faced the Tigers, who rolled over them in five games, battering the Padre starters. Stars on that team were Steve Garvey, Graig Nettles, Terry Kennedy, Templeton, and Tony Gwynn (the best player in San Diego history). Gwynn entered the 2000 season with 3,067 hits, a .339 batting average, more than 500 doubles, 1,100 RBI, 1,300 runs, and 300 steals. He was a 15-time all-star, five-time Gold Glove winner, and eight-time batting champion. It's safe to say he was the best hitter of his generation.
In 1998 the team returned to the Fall Classic, again facing a formidable opponent - the New York Yankees - winners of 114 games in the regular season. As in 1984, the Padres were outclassed, this time losing four straight. That 1998 season was a success, despite the crushing loss to New York in the Series. The Padres upset the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, using good pitching a solid defense. Spearheading the offense was Steve Finley, Gwynn, and Ken Caminiti.
The 2001 season was exciting if not successful. The Pads went nowhere as a team, but veterans Tony Gwynn and Rickey Henderson made headlines. Gwynn played his last game in the Major Leagues, batting more than .300 for the 18th time. Henderson eclipsed two major records - most career walks and most career runs scored. In one season the leadoff man erased Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb's names from the books.
In 2004 the San Diego Padres finished in 3rd place in the National League West Division with a 87-75 record.
In 2006 the San Diego Padres finished in 2nd place in the National League West
Division with a 88-74 record.