It's been a while since my last "Almost" awards post. Fun stuff like the PCL Padres series, Mat Latos #balls, Fan Fest, the "How the West Was Won" series, interviewing San Diego's own talk show legend Jane Mitchell, the Padres Awards Dinner and the latest on all the uniforms, kept me from continuing the series. So for the 1 person that asked when I was going to continue this series your answer is...RIGHT NOW!
For those of you who missed the first 2 posts (1970 and 1971) and are wondering what this series is all about, starting with the 1969 season onward, I'm going through all the voting for awards and writing about the Padres who received votes but came out on the losing end. Also of note the word "Almost" is used very loosely, because I am writing about them whether they finished 2nd or 25th. If they received a single vote they get mentioned.
The previous 2 Padres who received award consideration, OF Cito Gaston & SP Dave Roberts, aren't really that well known in San Diego. But the guy that's next up on our list, should be known by all Padres fans.
In 1972, Padres first baseman Nate Colbert was coming off a fine season hitting a team high 27 homers and 84 RBIs, as well as earning his first All-Star appearance. With a rather weak lineup in place, the majority of the offensive production was placed directly on his shoulders for the upcoming season and he didn't disappoint.
Colbert, who is often cited as the Padres first "star", had one of the best seasons a Padre has ever had that year. He not only made his 2nd consecutive All-Star game (in which he brought the wrong jersey) but he once again hit a team high 38 homers (2nd in MLB) and 111 RBI's (5th in MLB). Those numbers are great but as expected Colbert WAS THE Padres offense. He accounted for 33% of the Padres runs that season, as the team stumbled to a 58-95 record to finish in 6th place in the NL West.
On August 1st, the Nate show was at it's finest. In a double header at Atlanta Stadium against the Braves, Colbert hit 2 home runs with 5 RBI's in the first game. Only to follow it up with 3 home runs and 8 RBI's in the second game to give him a total of 5 home runs and 13 RBI's that day breaking Cardinal great Stan Musial's record of 11 in which, rumor has it, young Nate was in attendance for.
With the big numbers and the attention grabbing single day performance (not to mention the bright yellow unis), Colbert was hard to pass up for consideration and recieved 45 votes to finish 8th in the NL MVP race, that was won by Reds catcher Johnny Bench. Colbert did in fact win his 2nd Padres Team MVP award that year and in 1973 he would make his 3rd straight, and final, All-Star game appearance.
In 1974, Colberts production would take a big hit due in large part to a chronic back problem and at the end of the season he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers for SS Ed Brinkman, OF Dick Sharon and P Bob Strampe. Brinkman and Strampe would never play a single inning for the Padres and Sharon logged only 191 plate appearances in his 1 season with the team. Meanwhile, Colbert would bounce between 3 teams (Detroit, Montreal & Oakland) over the next 2 seasons logging only 315 more AB's.
After 10 seasons in the bigs, he hung up the cleats in 1976 at the age of 30. Despite 3 guys making a run at it (Winfield, Nevin & Gonzalez), he is still to this day the Padres All-Time Home Run leader with 163. He also ranks in the top-10 in RBI's (6th), Runs (7th), Hits (10th), Extra-base Hits (7th) and Walks (7th).
In 1999, Colbert was part of the inaugural class of inductees to the Padres Hall of Fame, joining Randy Jones & Ray Kroc.
SIDE NOTE: Ed Brinkman may not have provided anything worth while on the field but he did net the Padres a relief pither by the name of Rich Folkers who will forever be known to Padres fans as "Throwing up in the bullpen".