Veterans Day is fast approaching and as a Padres fan it's a good time to honor those that have served. A couple years ago I set out to find all the Padres players who were military veterans. Here's who we came up with, the magnificent seven:
- Champ Summers
Summers served in Vietnam with the United States Army. He was discovered playing in a men's softball league after his service and played in the Major Leagues from 1974-84. He played 47 games and his final Major League season with the Padres on their National League Championship team.
- Jason Szuminski
Szumniski was a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force serving as an individual mobilization augmentee assigned to the Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. He started the season on the 25 man roster in 2004 but was quickly dropped and returned to the Cubs per Rule 5 draft rules. I was reminded that we interviewed him a little while ago.
- Al Bumbry
Bumbry earned the Bronze Star as a platoon leader in Vietnam. A long time Oriole, Bumbry became a free agent and signed with the San Diego Padres in 1985. However, at age 38, he hit just .200 and stole only two bases, and he retired after the season.
- Fred Stanley
Stanley went to High School in San Diego. He missed the 1969 season due to his service in Vietnam and then played for the Padres for one season in 1972.
- Rich Folkers
Folkers' Minor League career was interrupted by doing a tour in Vietnam in 1969. After his return he promptly made the big leagues and played the 1975-76 seasons with the Padres.
- Earl Wilson
Wilson missed the 1957-1958 seasons because of Military service. He played with the Padres in 1970.
- Johnny Podres
Podres missed the 1956 season due to his Military service. He played his last season with the Padres in their first season, 1969.
The Padres sent me a complete list of all Major League Baseball Military Veterans that are listed on the Honor Wall at Petco Park.