Remembering the time a Padres first-round pick got stabbed in a parking lot

All the recent talk about potential ballpark violence in the upcoming series got me thinking about the the time a Padres minor leaguer was stabbed after a game. The place was San Antonio and the date was June 21, 1986. The player was none other than future legend Joey Cora.

"The doctor told me if the stab was two inches lower, Joey's probably dead." -Sandy Alomar Jr.


The Padres' first round pick in the 1985 draft, Cora was promoted to AA Beaumont for the 1986 season. Everything was going well until one night after a game in San Antonio against the Missions, who were then a Dodgers affiliate. Joey and a few teammates were outside waiting for the team bus because there was no air conditioning in the visitors' locker room when they were approached by a pair of men who began taunting them. He muttered something and a brief argument ensued until the pair left, only to return with around a dozen other guys. Members of the group continued to verbally assault him and when he responded, he was jumped. Amidst the barrage of punches, one of the men stabbed Cora twice.

Cora spent a week in the hospital following emergency surgery to repair the two-inch incision in his abdomen that penetrated his small intestine. It would be a full eight weeks before he returned to the field. While the injury took time out of his development, Joey was fortunate it wasn't worse. Sandy Alomar, Sr. told the L.A. Times that his son Sandy, Jr- one of Cora's Beaumont teammates at the time- reported to him "The doctor told me if the stab was two inches lower, Joey's probably dead."

Although he recovered from his injuries, Joey's life was changed that night. Seeing the futility of dispute, Cora embraced an attitude of pacifism. "That taught me a good lesson about minding your own business and keeping a low profile," he told Bill Plaschke years later. "That really affected me for a long time. I see Stanley Jefferson fighting with Larry Bowa the next year and I think, forget it, I fight no guys, I just do what they tell me."

Jose Puente, the man who stabbed him, was apprehended shortly after the incident and charged with attempted murder. Joey, on the other hand, got on with his life and made his major league debut the following season, going on to play 11 seasons in the bigs. He's best remembered for his time with the Seattle, where he was named to the 1997 All-Star team.

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