Many Famous Names, Even Hall of Famers, Played for Padres in Walla Walla in 70’s-80’s
Of course back then nobody really knew who these guys were. But as time wore on, they became famous, and eventually superstars. And they started in Walla Walla. After being affiliated with Colorado since 2001, the Tri-City Dust Devils signed on to be the Class A farm club for San Diego in 2015. There's a reason the Padres wanted to get back to the Pacific Northwest. A lot of good history. These guys went on to become household names.
From 1972 to 1982, the San Diego Padres had their Class A farm team in Walla Walla, and played at Borleske Stadium. They had at least ten players who went on to achieve household name fame, including the greatest shortstop to every play the position, Ozzie Smith. His fame would later come with the Cardinals and later the Hall of Fame, but he was drafted by San Diego. Smith played there in 1977.
Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, considered by some the greatest pure hitter of all time, also began his career there in 1981. He hit 12 home runs in just 42 games in Walla Walla, finishing the season in AA.
Another famous player, who was known for his great hitting but also hilarious antics on and off the field, John Kruk, began there in 1981. After being traded from San Diego in 1989 to Philadelphia, he began a streak of hitting that landed him in 3 All Star games, and a world series with the Phillies. Most recently he's been seen as an analyst for ESPN's Major League Baseball.
And finally, if you've followed baseball for a few years, who could forget Mitch Williams, the outlandish relief pitcher known as "Wild Thing" when he played for the Rangers and Cubs. Williams had a few years of tremendous success in the early 90's as one of the leading closers in baseball. He got his name because his antics were like those of Charlie Sheen in the movie Major League--a wild, unpredictable flame throwing pitcher. Williams was drafted out of high school in West Lynn, OR in 1982 and played the last year the Padres were in Walla Walla. He was later traded to Texas, then the Cubs.