|â€¢ Former San Diego ballparks â€¢
San Diego, California
Formerly, San Diego Stadium and Jack Murphy Stadium
Tenants: San Diego Padres (PCL, 1968); San Diego Padres (NL, 1969-2003); San Diego Chargers
(NFL, 1967-present); San Diego State University football, 1967-present)
Groundbreaking: December 18, 1965
First NFL Game: August 20, 1967
First PCL game: April, 1968
Last PCL game: September, 1968
First National League game: April 8, 1969
Last National League game: September 28, 2003
Surface: Natural grass
Seating Capacity: 50,000 (1967); 51,362 (1979); 58,671 (1984); 59,022 (1990); 67,544 (1997)
Architect: Gary Allen of Frank L. Hope and Associates
Owner: City of San Diego
Original Cost: $27.75 million
Nicknames: the Murph, the Q
LF foul line: 330 ft. (1968), 327 ft. (1982)
LF alley: 375 ft. (1968), 370 ft. (1982)
Center field: 420 ft. (1968), 410 ft. (1973), 420 ft. (1978), 405 ft. (1982)
RF alley: 375 ft. (1968), 370 ft. (1982), 368 ft. (1996)
RF foul line: 330 ft. (1969), 327 ft. (1982), 330 ft. (1996)
Height of Fences:
Left field, 17.5 ft. (concrete, 1968), 9 ft. (line painted on concrete, 1973), 18 ft. (concrete,
1974), 8.5 ft. (canvas, 1982); Center field: 17.5 ft. (concrete, 1969), 10 ft. (wood, 1973), 18 ft.
(concrete, 1978), 8.5 ft. (canvas, 1982); Right field: 17.5 ft. (concrete, 1969), 9 ft. (line painted
on concrete, 1973), 18 ft. (concrete, 1974), 8.5 ft. (canvas, 1982), 17.5 ft. (scoreboard wall,
Hosted All-Star Game: 1978, 1992
Hosted World Series: 1984, 1998
Hosted Super Bowl: 1988 (XXII), 1998 (XXXII), 2003 (XXXVII)
In 1876 the National League was born, and sunny San Diego was a sleepy little seacoast village of around 3,000
residents -- just slightly larger than it was when first founded by Father Serra as a mission city in the 18th
century. Fast-forward six decades, and professional baseball arrives in the city that isn't so sleepy anymore with a
population of 250,000. The year 1936 saw Bill Lane uproot his Hollywood Stars of the P.C.L. and move them a
couple of hours drive south to San Diego. The team was renamed Padres, after the nearby mission, and moved
into a park that was built as part of the Works Progress Administration in the early 30's. The newly named Lane
Field would serve as home to San Diego pro baseball for the next 22 years. The park was located at the foot of
Broadway on San Diego Bay (above-left). Foul balls that were hit high over the third base roof always had a
decent chance of bouncing across the street and plunking into the bay. Another unique feature of Lane field was
the proximity of the grandstand. From home plate to the backstop was a mere 22 feet, with very little foul
territory along the baselines as well. During the park's first season, dozens of fans were injured because there
was no adequate foul screen. When the screen finaly did go up when the grandstand roof was built, the screen
was not only behind home plate, but the length of the dugouts as well.
After the 1957 season, the Padres were acquired by C. Arnholt Smith. Smith abandoned the by then termite
ridden Lane Field, in favor of a brand new 8,200 seat park that he built in picturesque Mission Valley. Westgate
Park (above right) featured a cantilevered roof that covered the entire grandstand. Foul lines measured 320 feet
from home, while center was 410 feet away with a 6 ft. high cyclone fence from pole to pole.
In 1961, San Diego sportswriter Jack Murphy helped convince Barron Hilton to move his Los Angeles Chargers of
the new American Football League to San Diego. The Chargers played their first season in San Diego at Balboa
Stadium (see photo below), built in 1915 and expanded to 34,500 seats for professional football. Murphy spent the
next several years lobbying for a new stadium for the Chargers as well as a Major League expansion team for the
city. By the end of the decade, both would become a reality.
In 1964, the first studies on where to build a stadium were funded. Mission Bay, Kearny Mesa and Mission Valley
areas were the focus of the studies. On August 18, 1965, the San Diego City Council approved a site in Mission
Valley for the new stadium, and also approved the architectural design (rejecting an alternative plan for a pair of
floating stadiums for baseball and football in Mission Bay!). That November saw 72% of the voters approve
Proposition 1, a charter amendment authorizing the stadium. One month later the groundbreaking ceremony was
held, and the following spring, nearly $16 million in construction contracts were awarded and $27.75 million in
bonds were approved. The Chargers would stay in San Diego.
50,000 seat San Diego Stadium opened on August 20, 1967 with the Chargers losing to the Detroit Lions, 38-17.
Three weeks later, the San Diego State Aztecs played their first game in the new stadium. The first auto race,
the Pacific Invitational Grand Prix was held in October. The stadium would eventually become one of the most
popular venues for the exciting sport of motocross, hosting dozens of such events through the years.
The second part of Jack Murphy's dream was realised in 1968. Now that San Diego had a suitable stadium, the
National League awarded one of two expansion franchises to San Diego, to begin play in 1969. Meanwhile, 1968
saw the Pacific Coast League's Padres play their final season as the first baseball tenants of San Diego Stadium -
much like the Atlanta Crackers, who played their final season as a minor league team in the brand-new Atlanta
Stadium in 1965 before the Braves arrival in 1966.
The Padres opened their first season as a National League team vs. Houston on April 8, 1969, before only 23,370.
San Diego Stadium had its first baseball milestone in that first season on September 22, when Willie Mays socked
his 600th carreer homerun. The dimensions of the park were at first, not hitter friendly. While foul lines and
power alleys were a respectable 330 and 375 respectively, center field was a distant 420 feet from homeplate, and
the outfield wall was 17.5 feet high from foul pole to foul pole. In 1973, a line was painted on the wall eight feet
from the ground, signifying if a batted ball hit above it, it would be a home run. The "home run line" was
abandoned the following season and in 1982, an 8 ft. high inner fence was erected inside the concrete wall,
reducing distances by 15 ft. in center, 5 ft. in the alleys and 3 ft. in the corners.
On May 27, 1973 â€“ five years after the Padres had been created by a vote of major league owners â€“ they were
sold to Washington, D.C., supermarket magnate Joseph Danzansky, who announced his intent to move the team to
the nation's capital at the end of the season. The club's equipment was packed for the move. Bubblegum cards
were distributed with the players in airbrushed Washington uniforms. Then, San Diego City Attorney John Witt
sued and won a ruling that said the club could be liable for damages on the remaining 15 years of its lease at then
San Diego Stadium. Danzansky withdrew.
The Padres finished the year in limbo. Several other prospective owners came and went. The National League
agreed to operate the team until an owner could be found. In 1974, The man who created a hamburger empire,
Ray Kroc, bought the troubled franchise and secured its stay in Southern California.
In 1981, the stadium was renamed San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium to honor the late San Diego Union sports editor
who campaigned for the stadium. Voters reaffirmed the name change in a 1984 referendum. Nearly $10 million was
spent in 1983-84 adding extra seating to the park, raising capacity to 61,000 for football. These extra seats came
in handy for the Padres, as they hosted their first World Series in 1984 against the Detroit Tigers. In the mid 90's,
in accordance with the Chargers new lease, the stadium was again expanded bringing the football capacity to
67,500 at a cost of $78 million. Unfortunately, this final expansion, which enclosed the once horseshoe-shaped
arena, completely screened out the picturesque views of the Mission Valley hills that were once visible from the
grandstand. In 1997, the name of the stadium was changed. Qualcomm, a local Telecommunication Company,
agreed to pay the City $18 million to complete the expansion project. In return, the name of the Stadium
changed to Qualcomm Stadium.
By the late 90's, years of lobbying for a new baseball-only stadium by the Padres paid off as public funding was
approved and construction began on PETCO Park in downtown San Diego. After a two year delay in construction
caused by lawsuits and investigations, Petco Park opened on April 8, 2004. Today the "Q" remains the home of the
Chargers and the San Diego State Aztecs, as well as many other events scheduled throughout the year.
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Notes, Facts and Features
Since 1978 the annual site of the Holiday Bowl.
Birthplace of the world famous San Diego Chicken in the 1970's. The Chicken was performed and more or less
created by Ted Giannoulas.
August 29, 1977, Lou Brock stole his 892nd base to tie Ty Cobb's record
January 31, 1988. Super Bowl XXII. The Washington Redskins, led by quarterback, Doug Williams, stomp the
Denver Broncos, 42-10.
January 25, 1998. Super Bowl XXXII. John Elway leads Denver to their first Super Bowl title as the Broncos beat
Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, 31-24
January 26, 2003. Super Bowl XXXVII. The city of Tampa, Florida gets its first pro sports championship as the
Buccaneers topple the Oakland Raiders, 48-21.
1984 World Series. Jack Murphy Stadium and the city of San Diego hosts its first World Series after the Padres
beat the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. However, they wind up losing the World Series to Alan Trammell and the
Detroit Tigers 4 games to 1. The Tigers had won 104 games that year.
1998 World Series. The mighty New York Yankees (114 victories) led by Scott Brosius, sweep past the Padres in 4
straight. Tony Gwynn played in both Series appearances by the Padres (1984,1998).
The only park of its time where a foul ball could be caught out of sight of all umpires and most players, in either
bullpen near the foul poles.
Ivy was planted on center-field fence in 1980 but was removed soon after.
Orel Hershiser broke Don Drysdaleâ€™s record for most consecutive shutout innings (58) here on September 28,
Pittsburghâ€™s Dock Ellis pitched the first no-hitter here on June 12, 1970.
Florida's A.J. Burnett pitched the second no-hitter here, which included nine walks, on May 12, 2001.
On Sept. 24, 1971, the Padres split a doubleheader with Houston that went 31 innings. The Padres won the
second game in the 10th inning when Houston outfielder Jimmy Wynn lost a fly in the fog.
July 21, 1970: In perhaps the most controversial incident in Padres history, manager Preston Gomez pinch hits for
pitcher Clay Kirby in the bottom of the eighth with the Padres trailing 1-0. Kirby was pitching a no-hitter against
the Mets. Reliever Jack Baldschun gives up a lead-off single to Bud Harrelson in the ninth.
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Baseball dimensions from 1996-2003 (right). Balls hit into the exposed corner bullpens occasionally got lost amid
the benches, ball bags and pitchers gear. A construction photo from 1966 (left) shows steady progress on San
Diego Stadium in Mission Valley, 10 miles northeast of San Diego.
Lane Field was home to the Pacific Coast League's Padres from 1936-57 (left). Located right on San Diego bay at
the foot of Broadway between Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive, the 9,100 seat park was home to Bobby Doerr
and Vince DiMaggio in its first season. Ted Williams also spent his first pro season, as a Padre, at Lane Field in
1936. Williams was the first player at Lane Field to routinely smack long slicing foul balls into the Pacific Ocean.
By 1958, the Padres had moved into a new facility, Westgate Park (right), in Mission Valley. The park only saw 10
seasons of action before it was abandoned in 1968 when the PCL Padres played their final season in the new San
Diego Stadium - just a few blocks away in Mission Valley. The park was razed and the Fashion Valley Shopping
Center was built in its place.
A packed house in 1996 (above). Balboa Stadium (below left) was home to the San Diego Chargers from 1961-66.
The stadium was razed in 1977 and rebuilt for San Diego High School football with 3,500 seats in 1978. San Diego
Stadium during the Padres inaugural season of 1969 (below right).
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