Padres open their Hall of Fame at Petco Park

Shrine is on K Street just inside the Tony Gwynn gate

Padres open their Hall of Fame at Petco Park

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Finally!

Tony Gwynn. Randy Jones. Trevor Hoffman. Jerry Coleman. Dave Winfield. Nate Colbert. Buzzie Bavasi. Ray Kroc. Garry Templeton. Dick Williams. Benito Santiago. Ted Williams. Ken Caminiti.

All the Padres Hall of Famers have a permanent home at Petco Park.

The Padres opened their formal Hall of Fame building Friday afternoon. And it is worthy of a visit by all Padres fans . . . young and old.

Because, yes, it is a history of the National League Padres, who came into existence in 1969. It is also more - a history of baseball in San Diego, including the 33 seasons the Padres played in the Pacific Coast League at a time when the PCL was dubbed the "third Major League."

Plus, the history does not end with a tour of the 2,000-square-foot building. There are displays outside in the Padres Hall of Fame Plaza. One of the features I like most are the bigger-than-life portraits of Jones, Winfield, Gwynn and Hoffman adorning the wall above the entrance to the plaza.

Inside the building, there are 13 life-size "panels" chronicling the achievements of the 11 men already in the Padres Hall of Fame plus this year's two inductees - Ted Williams and Ken Caminiti.

With Williams' enshrinement Friday night, his panel was already viewable when the Hall of Fame opened. Caminiti's panel will be covered until he is enshrined next month.

The Padres began inducting players and executives into their Hall of Fame in 1999. But until Friday afternoon, there was little visible evidence of their achievements at either Qualcomm Stadium or Petco Park.

Now they and future Padres Hall of Famers have a permanent home at Petco Park.

And it's quite a home.

I must admit that I was more than a bit blown away as I toured the Padres Hall of Fame for the first time. There's a lot packed into those 2,000-square-feet - a definite must-visit stop for any Padres' fan.