Happy Birthday John D’Acquisto
Growing up as a kid in San Diego, I remember the 1978 season. It was the first season my Padres finished over .500 at 84-78. One of the key players for the Padres that season was a man named John D’Acquisto. He was a first round draft pick of the Giants, and became the became the 1974 NL Rookie Pitcher of the year. When he arrived with the Padres in 1977, he had already started the transition to the bullpen. In 1978, he had his best season as a pitcher. Spending most of the season in the bullpen, he pitched 93 innings, striking out 104 hitter with a 2.13 ERA and he had 10 saves. Several times during that season, he came out of the bullpen to bail Rollie Fingers out of jams using his 95 MPH fastball (a fastball that you could hear all over the stadium when it hit the catcher’s mit). John continued his career until 1983, when arm injuries finally caused him to retire from the game he loved. Through the years, I would always look back and remember that ’78 season and could hear hear in my mind the call of the Padres PA announcer, “now coming into the game….#16…John D’Acquisto!” Such wonderful memories……
Fast forward to last year. I was on Facebook one day when a name popped up that jarred all the memories of that season back; John D’Acquisto! I couldn’t believe it when I saw the name and I immediately requested him as a friend and he accepted my request. I told him how much I liked him and remembered him playing when I was a kid, and he was so kind in his words and happy to hear I remembered him. I finally worked up the courage to ask John the question who his favorite player was and why, and he graciously took the time to answer my questions. His favorite players? “Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal and Nolan Ryan, but I was influenced by Koufax and Marichal.” He told me that he wore Marichal’s #27 when he was in high school. Knowing that he was with the Giants toward the end of Juan’s career, I asked him if he ever worked with him while he was with the Giants. He told me, “Yes I did..I was in spring training when I was 19 and had the pleasure to work with Juan in 71, 72, and 73 before I took his place and he was traded to Boston.” “He taught me a lot about the slider and how to bring my hand straight down and not wrap it because it could effect my control..Juan Marichal was a magician with control.” “I could remember when we were in the first day of spring training and Marichal was on the mound throwing and he was painting the corners with something on it and he hadn’t done anything all winter long.” “Quite an amazing pitcher.”
Thank you so much John for sharing your memories of your hero!