Jay Paris: Recalling 1984 Padres comes with a title and plenty of laughs

Goose Gossage cracked up.

Garry Templeton chuckled.

The two former Padres shared a look, which soon had them sharing a story.

“One time,’’ Templeton said with regret, “I tried to go talk to Goose on the mound.’’

The chatter this weekend at Petco Park revolves around the 1984 Padres.

It’s being celebrated as the franchise’s first squad to reach the World Series, after an epic comeback over the Cubs in the National League Championship Series.

Gossage was the closer.

Templeton was the shortstop.

And third baseman Graig Nettles was the instigator, which had Templeton approaching a steamed Gossage on the bump.

“Goose was wild one day and Nettles told me to go over there and settle him down,’’ said Templeton, a San Marcos resident. “But I didn’t make it to the mound. Before I get there Goose looks at me and yells, ‘What the (bleep) are you (bleeping) doing here and don’t ever (bleeping) do it again.’’

A glance at Nettles told a retreating Templeton he had been had.

“His face was buried in his glove he was laughing so hard,’’ Templeton said. “No one ever went to the mound and talked to Goose. Nettles reminds me of that every time I see him.’’

Bruce Springsteen sings of the glory days and those were boss times to be a Padres fan. With veterans like Steve Garvey, Nettles, Templeton and Gossage; kids like Tony Gwynn and Kevin McReynolds; and an old-school manager in Dick Williams, the Padres were gold while wearing brown.

“I loved those uniforms,’’ Gossage said. “They gave us our personality.’’

But that team is recognized for climbing off the best-of-five NLCS mat. The Cubs pasted the Padres twice in Wrigley Field and they returned home a loss from elimination.

The players were met by a rowdy crowd of Padres believers at Jack Murphy Stadium, resplendent in Cub-Busters T-shirts, with a faith which was heaven sent.

But before descending on Lindbergh Field, Gossage told his teammates to gather round.

“I had a talk in the back of the plane,’’ he said. “I said, ‘Hey, listen guys. We win game three and we are going to win this thing.

“They are trying to put us away and they don’t want to go to a game four. It’s psychological and all the momentum will be on our side if we win game three. They’ll be looking over their shoulder and playing defensively.’’’

The Padres prevailed in what Gossage said, “was the loudest stadium I’ve ever been in. It was crazy.’’

Then Garvey produced his epic two-run homer to steal game four.

“Now the Cubs really felt the pressure,’’ Gossage said about Chicago, whose last playoff appearance was the 1945 World Series.

Game five remains etched on San Diego’s Mt. Rushmore of sports.

The Padres trailed, 3-0, in the deciding contest against Rick Sutcliffe, that year’s Cy Young Award winner. Then the magic started and how did the Padres pull that off?

By leaning on the game’s basics, which Williams preached with vigor and fire.

Two sacrifice flies in the sixth cut Chicago’s lead to 3-2.

Carmelo Martinez opened the seventh with a walk and Templeton bunted.

“I got him over into scoring position,’’ Templeton said. “You knew if you didn’t get the job done with Dick, you would be sitting next to him. It was all about fundamentals.’’

Tim Flannery slapped a grounder between first baseman Leon Durham’s legs, and because Templeton did his part, Martinez scored from second. The game was tied and Mission Valley went bonkers.

Alan Wiggins singled Flannery to second and both scored on Gwynn’s double. Garvey added an RBI single for a 6-3 cushion and let the party begin, once Gossage notched the final six outs.

“That was what was so much fun for me, and I think for all of us, was being a part of a team to turn a city on for the first time,’’ Gossage said. “Nobody knew how to act. They were dancing like fools in the streets, right along with us.’’

The Padres ran into a buzz saw in the World Series, a powerful Tigers team that dispatched them in five games. But that doesn’t diminish what the Padres accomplished; it adds to the pile of stories.

Gossage clears his throat again, ready to deliver.

“The year I made the Hall of Fame, Dick made it, too,’’ Gossage said. “So I called his house to congratulate him.’’

Williams’ wife, Norma, answered the phone. Gossage, who talked Williams out of giving Detroit’s Kirk Gibson a free pass in the World Series’ deciding game, couldn’t resist reaching for the needle.

Not after Gibson smoked Gossage’s first pitch for a three-run homer.

“Tell Dick,’’ Gossage told her, “it’s the guy who should have walked Gibson!’’

Strolling down memory lane with the 1984 Padres is always a hoot. Just don’t let your trek reach a mound occupied by Gossage.

Then again, it could make for one memorable (bleeping) tale.

Contact Jay Paris at jparis8@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at vjparis_sports.



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