By transferring first pitch, Padres hope to keep away from repeat of ’75 rainout

Rain swept through San Diego early Thursday morning, threatening the most anticipated opening day in Padres history.

With more midday rain downtown in the forecast, the ball club proactively moved first place 5 1/2 hours — from 1:10 p.m. to 6:40 p.m. — to allow the rain clouds to clear and allow the water-soaked field to drain and dry.

If the game against the Colorado Rockies goes ahead as planned, the Padres’ 1975 home game will remain the only rain-soaked game in the franchise’s 55-year history.

In fact, the opening game of 1975 rained consecutive nights at San Diego Stadium.

It was mostly bad luck.

Rainfall was reported for six consecutive days from April 4 to 9, although records show rainfall was just two inches in April this year.

Almost half of the precipitation (0.93 inches) fell on the opening day and a significant amount (0.41 inches) the following day.

The San Diego Union reported that the pre-game celebrations were to include a softball game an hour before field one, pitting Eddie Feigner (The King) and his court against some “media celebrities.”

Padres owner Ray Kroc was scheduled to give a presentation, having saved baseball for the city a year earlier when he bought a franchise just before moving to Washington, DC

Mayor Pete Wilson should throw the first pitch.

Fireworks were to follow after the game.

After two rainstorms, the Padres decided to postpone the celebrations to the team’s home game against the Dodgers two weeks later.

The delays shattered the crowd.

The Padres originally expected up to 42,000 fans, and some at the ticket office thought a sell-out (47,634) was a possibility. The franchise’s single-game attendance record at the time was 44,504, set on May 25 last season against Cincinnati.

When the teams finally took the field two nights later, only 19,823 people walked through the turnstiles.

Those who showed up watched as Padre’s left-hander Randy Jones threw nine shutout innings.

They also saw San Francisco right-hander Jim Barr throw 10 shutout innings in the Giants’ 2-0 win.

Despite an extra inning, the game was over in 2 hours and 11 minutes.

With so few rain replays, members of the Padres Ground Crew — especially when the team was playing Mission Valley — have been known to struggle to cover the field.

In fact, the tarp pretty much came apart in their hands at one point when the crew tried to drag it across the field after years of rolling it up along the first base line in foul territory.

That wasn’t the most memorable incident, however.

In 1990, at what was then Jack Murphy Stadium, a family of skunks dispersed after ground crew interrupted them while unrolling the tarp, which seemed like a nice, dry place to settle.

The skunks were released along the San Diego River, although they always seemed to find their way back to the stadium.

No wonder they made themselves comfortable. The probability that the tarpaulin was touched was extremely small.

The Padres media guide lists 18 rains in franchise history, with up to 15 years between rains (1983 to 1998).

Only three regular season games have been rescheduled in the team’s 19-year history at Petco Park, the most recent being on May 7, 2017 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Two years earlier, an unprecedented summer storm forced the postponement of the July 19, 2015 game against the Rockies. This ended a nine-year stretch (770 games) without a rainout.

Before that, the Padres had just two rainouts from 1983 to 2006, covering a span of 1,802 games.

If it weren’t for Buzzie Bavasi, the Padres’ first president, the number of rains would be barely a dozen.

Bavasi believed doubleheaders drew more viewers, so he would announce a game in no time.

Six of the team’s rainouts came in the first four years of the franchise’s existence.

San Diego rains

According to the Padres media guide, there have been 18 rains in San Diego over the years:

April 27, 1970 – vs. Montreal Expos

April 14, 1971 – vs. Chicago Cubs

May 7, 1971 – vs. Cincinnati Reds

May 28, 1971 – vs. New York Mets

June 5, 1972 – vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

June 6, 1972 – against Pittsburgh Pirates

April 8, 1975 – vs. San Francisco Giants

April 9, 1975 – vs. San Francisco Giants

September 10, 1976 – vs. Houston Astros (DH)

May 8, 1977 – vs. Montreal Expos (DH)

April 15, 1978 – vs. San Francisco Giants

April 28, 1980 – vs. Atlanta Braves

April 29, 1980 – vs. Atlanta Braves

April 20, 1983 – vs. Atlanta Braves

May 12, 1998 – vs. New York Mets

April 4, 2006 – vs. San Francisco Giants

July 19, 2015 – vs. Colorado Rockies

May 7, 2017 – vs Los Angeles Dodgers

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