Happy Birthday, Jon Adkins!

I had MLB Network on as background noise a few weeks ago and perked up when I heard the word "Padres", much like a dog hearing a can opener puncturing an Alpo container. When I glanced over, I was pleased to see fellow West Virginian Jon Adkins on the screen. Unfortunately, they were showing him giving up a pair of homers in the infamous September 18, 2006 game when the Dodgers led off the bottom of the ninth with four consecutive homers to tie it up. Funny how that goes; a guy has a great season and only gives up three home runs all year but because of the freaky timing of two of them he gets depicted as a goat of sorts on national television seven years later. It's worth noting that the shots he surrendered were to perennial All-Star and former MVP Jeff Kent, who hit 376 more, and J.D. Drew, who was no slouch with the bat himself. Of course we wouldn't be talking about any of this if the next guy in from the 'pen hadn't given up two more home runs. That guy was future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, which just goes to show that this sort of thing can happen to anyone. Well, anyone good enough to make it to the majors, that is.

Aside from that appearance, Adkins was beyond solid coming out of the bullpen for Bruce Bochy that year. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy had the best year of his career, putting up an ERA under 4 in 54.1 innings over 55 games. He came over as a free agent from the White Sox and compiled a 2-1 record with eight holds. That one loss came on a walkoff single to Matt Holliday in Adkins's first appearance in navy and sand, but it was mostly smooth sailing from then on. His first win as a Padre came over the Giants in the first game of a doubleheader on July 1. He came in for Mike Thompson in the top of the seventh and retired two batters to end the threat.  His second win came three weeks later, also against the Giants; he pitched a scoreless tenth and eleventh innings. Interestingly, a young jackass by the name of Brian Wilson took the loss in both games, and of course Trevor got the save in each of them.

After the season, the Padres sent Adkins and Ben Johnson to the Mets for Royce Ring and Heath Bell, much to my disappointment. I'd been a fan of Adkins since back in his White Sox days -- I keep tabs on players from my home state, which is a lot easier for me to do than it is for you Californians -- and had been thrilled when my favorite team snagged him up. It worked out well for the Padres, though, so I can't complain too much. It did pave the way for Adkins to eventually pitch for the Reds, which is the dream for just about every boy growing up in or around Wayne, WV. At least it was the dream for both of my friends who are from Wayne, which is incidentally about 13 miles as the crow flies from where I'm presently typing this. One of them grew up to be a respected local businessman, and the other became a junkie, but one thing they have in common is that they both admire and are jealous of Jon Adkins. After all, he's the one who made it.

Also born on this day was some guy who played for the old PCL Padres back in the 1930s. His name was Theodore Samuel Williams. He went on to become a fighter pilot; I'm not sure if he played any baseball anywhere else or not.

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