It was supposed to be only a matter of time. Certainly, it created the hottest office pool in town. There was even a secret pool circulating in the Padre offices.
When was Manager Greg Riddoch going to be fired?
But not only did Riddoch surprise his detractors, he astounded his boss as well.
Despite using 26 players from the minor leagues--and a franchise-record 48 in all--during the course of the season, Riddoch managed the Padres to a 84-78 record and third place in the National League West. It equalled the third-best record in Padres' history.
In July, Riddoch even had the misfortune of being knocked silly when a helmet, thrown in disgust by catcher Benito Santiago, caromed off the dugout and hit the manager in the head.
"This has been the worst year of my life, and the best year of my life," Riddoch said. "That sounds crazy, but it's the truth."
Riddoch was rewarded by new General Manager Joe McIlvaine with a one-year contract for about $225,000 to manage the Padres for the 1992 season.
"The worst things in my life have happened this year," Riddoch said. "There were a lot of lies and malicious things said about me.
"But I didn't give in to the negative influence. I didn't want to go down to that level."
Riddoch was chastised and scorned by several outgoing veterans on the team, most notably Jack Clark and Garry Templeton. Yet, he shrugged off the criticism and guided the Padres to their surprising finish.
They wound up setting a franchise-record for the fewest errors in a season with 113, enabling them to overcome their .244 batting average--their lowest since 1979. They finished with a 3.19 ERA, ranking fifth in the National League.