Padres unveil new Hall of Fame Plaza

Padres unveil new Hall of Fame Plaza

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres Hall of Fame is officially open.

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon, the Padres unveiled their Hall of Fame Plaza located at the K Street entrance behind left field. The Hall includes an interior exhibit, which puts San Diego's baseball history on display, and an exterior courtyard with plaques to honor the Padres who have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Friday's ceremony featured several current members of the Padres Hall of Fame -- which until now, did not have a specific home at Petco Park. Former left-hander Randy Jones -- the first member to be inducted, outfielder Dave Winfield and shortstop Garry Templeton were all on hand for the festivities.

So, too, were Tony Gwynn's wife, Alicia, and Tedd Williams' daughter, Claudia. Williams -- who was born and raised in San Diego and played for the Padres in the Pacific Coast League from 1936-38 -- was inducted into the Padres' Hall before Friday's game against the Yankees in an on-field ceremony.

"Today we're here to celebrate the opening of our Hall of Fame, which is so cool, and it's something that's long overdue," said Padres managing partner Peter Seidler, during the unveiling. "Randy was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999. And today -- with other great Padres that are part of our Hall of Fame -- we now have space in our building for our fans, people that love baseball and people that love San Diego."

And there's plenty of space for those fans to check out the Hall of Fame's new digs. The area is 3,500 square feet -- 2,000 square feet for the interior and 1,500 square feet for the courtyard.

The interior features a wall covered by a timeline of baseball in San Diego. That timeline is divided into three sections -- "Baseball in San Diego," "The PCL Padres" and "The National League Padres," which understandably takes up the largest portion.

Along the timeline are artifacts from Padres history -- such as Jones' Cy Young Award from 1976, and Gwynn's Silver Slugger Award from the 1994 campaign in which he batted .394. It also features more obscure relics, like the box score from a 1874 contest between Old San Diego and Lone Star -- the first baseball game ever played in the city.

The center of the Hall is marked with 13 panels dedicated to each current honoree. (One of those panels -- belonging to Ken Caminiti, who will be officially inducted later this season -- remains covered by a sheet.)

"There's still plenty of room in there for future players," said Jones. "I look forward to enjoying the Padres Hall of Fame."

Said Winfield: "San Diego was where I got my first hit, first RBI, first everything. I was always indebted to this organization. San Diego has always been good to me. But we're here for the Hall of Fame opening, and look at it: It's beautiful."

The tour through the interior of the Hall concludes with an interactive video theater, which allows fans to watch their own choice of video from different moments in Padres history. Across from the theater is an all-time club statistics leaderboard.

At the K Street entrance -- which leads into Hall of Fame plaza -- are paintings of the four most legendary Padres players: Jones, Winfield, Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman. Then, as fans approach the ballpark's concourse, they come upon the Cooperstown wall, which features replica plaques for each Hall of Famer to ever play for the Padres. The plaques for Gwynn and Winfield stand out, given that they're the two players who sport Padres caps in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The plaza and the Hall will be open to all fans with a ticket at every Padres home game. It's a monument to San Diego baseball, not just since 1969 -- when the Padres joined the NL -- but to the entirety of the club's history and the history of baseball in San Diego.

"The team's main goal and objective was to tell the story of baseball in San Diego," said Cherie Morgan, the lead designer of the plaza. "So we told it. And we did it through a combination of artifacts and memorabilia and photographs, celebrating the achievements of the team and the important moments."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.