Garvey's walk-off homer lives on
Padres first baseman delivered win in 1984 NLCS vs. Cubs
It was Game 4 of the 1984 National League Championship Series. The Chicago Cubs were leading, 2-1, in a best-of-five series. If the Padres were going to win this contest, now was the time. The game was tied at 5. This was it.
The Padres' Tony Gwynn singled to center in Jack Murphy Stadium, setting the scene for Steve Garvey, who already had driven in three runs that night.
With Cubs closer Lee Smith on the mound and 58,354 fans watching, Garvey smacked a 1-0 pitch.
"The Padres win it!" announced Jerry Coleman, who was calling the game for them. "That's all you had to say."
Garvey had hit a two-run home run over the 370 mark in right-center, sending the Padres to a 7-5 victory.
"We had our backs to the wall, and when Garvey hit that home run, you just knew the momentum had turned," said Bruce Bochy, his teammate at the time and now the San Francisco Giants manager.
"I knew he hit it good," Gwynn said. "The ball just left the bat. It was pure, it was crisp. It was the biggest hit in this franchise's history."
As Major League Baseball has crowned a new home run king, the memories of other memorable home runs come to mind for baseball fans. After 39 years of Padres baseball, Garvey's blast stands as the club's most memorable.
"I just remember the stadium and how frenzied the crowd went," Bochy said. It was deafening.
"I can still hear it in my ear," Gwynn said of the uproar. "It was electric, and it was the first time the people of San Diego were a part of something like that, baseball-wise."
After Garvey hit the ball Gwynn waited at second to make sure it went out of the park. It did, so he ran home where his team was waiting for him and then for Garvey, who already put his fists up in the air. Everyone was giving each other high-fives and hugs.
Garvey -- known as an orderly man -- tipped his cap before reaching home plate. Every hair on his head was in place.
"I've never seen guys out of all my years of playing so emotional like they were that night," Gwynn said.
"I would say without a question it was the most memorable home run, with the situation and the atmosphere," Bochy said. "It was one of those moments that we still talk about. I know the fans that were there still talk about it. It's hard to hit a bigger home run than what he did. He saved us, and we went to the World Series."
The Padres ended up winning the NL pennant and Garvey was named the NLCS MVP. They advanced to the World Series, but were defeated by the American League champions, the Detroit Tigers. That year, no playoff game was as grand as Game 4 on Oct. 6. It was just dramatic.
"For me, when I think about that series, I think about Game 4," Gwynn said. "That game was back and forth, they had the lead and we came back and tied it. We had the lead, and they came back and tied it. To come away with that win with that crowd and that night ... he was the reason we were having a Game 5."
After the game, Gwynn went to his locker, which was next to Garvey's in "veteran row." Gwynn was the only rookie sitting among a string of experienced players: Terry Kennedy, Tim Flannery, Garvey, himself, Graig Nettles and Bruce Bochy. For about 30 minutes, no one spoke about Game 5. Everyone was gasping for air. The Padres had rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to even the series.
"I asked [Garvey] after that game, 'Were you looking for something?'" Gwynn said of his teammate's last at-bat. Garvey replied by telling him, "Yeah, I was looking to drive something."
Coleman described Garvey's blast as, "the biggest home run ever hit in that stadium."
"It was incredibly great because that kept us alive," Coleman said.
Over 22 years have passed since that October. Jack Murphy Stadium turned into Qualcomm, and then the Padres moved altogether from Friar Road to their new home in PETCO Park. Since then, San Diego has made four more postseason appearances. Still, what Garvey did with that home run in the ninth inning of Game 4 will remain as one of the best moments in Padres history.
Elizabeth Botello is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.