As he patrolled center field for the San Diego Padres from 1994-98, Steve Finley carved his own piece of Padres lore. A major fixture on the National League pennant winner in '98, Finley enjoyed playing during one of the best periods of baseball San Diego has seen.
"I got to play with some great players," Finley said, reeling off a list that included Ken Caminiti, Tony Gwynn and Rickey Henderson, among others. "We had a great bunch of guys with a lot of us playing together for four years, [ending with the trip] to the World Series in '98. It was a great team for those four years."
And Finley was an integral part of those teams both offensively and defensively.
"He was a great hitter and worked hard at what he wanted to accomplish," said former teammate and current Padres hitting coach Wally Joyner. "Defensively, he roamed the outfield as good as anybody. He had great instincts and he was a lot of fun to watch."
Even though he played nine more seasons in Arizona, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Colorado before being cut by the Rockies in June 2007, he still calls San Diego home and has already started on his post-baseball gig.
Just over three weeks ago, along with "two partners and quite a few investors," Finley opened an Italian restaurant in Del Mar, Calif., called Pasqualy.
"It's been really, really great," Finley said. "People have been raving about the food and the décor."
San Diego was the perfect place to start his business, as he says that the city is a natural fit for him and his family, with its "great weather, it is one of the best cities in the country to live in."
But Finley is still looking to complete his baseball career his way. At 43, he says his body feels great and he knows he can still play baseball on the highest level.
"I just miss being on the field," Finley said. "I still have that drive and desire to be out there. If I never put on a uniform again, I have my championship and I played for 19 years. The one thing I would like to do is go out on my own terms."
Finley, who has battled injuries since 2005, feels that the time away from the game has given himself time to heal.
But even with the game tugging at him, he has taken advantage of his time away from the game. Along with the restaurant, he can now spend more time with his five kids, who range from ages three to 14.
And Finley admits that the man he is today has a lot to do with the 19 years he spent in Major League Baseball.
"The game teaches you a whole lot," Finley said. "Perseverance, how to accept failure, it teaches you to be a good teammate and to give back. It helps you, it all aspects of life, even in the business world."
Ronald P. Clark is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.