Nate Colbert, a former Padre the team called “a trailblazer in the San Diego sports community,” has died. He was 76.
The team announced Colbert’s death Thursday, while expressing condolences to his family.
Colbert’s career, as a first baseman and left fielder, stretched from 1966 to 1976, but his greatest success came during his stint with the Padres, which started when he was part of the expansion 1969 team. It was impressive enough that he is part of the team Hall of Fame.
Padres Chairman Peter Seidler issued a statement praising Colbert:
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Padres Hall of Famer Nate Colbert. “Our hearts go out to his wife, Kasey, and the entire Colbert family at this very difficult time. An original member of the Padres in 1969, Nate was a trailblazer in the San Diego sports community. He was a three-time National League All-Star in brown and gold and became the Padres all-time home run king (163), a record that still stands today. Nate was devoted to his community off the field as well, dedicating his time to disadvantaged youth through his ministry. He was a magnetic person who will be dearly missed.”
Though the team traded him following the 1974 season, former Padre Adrian Gonzalez came closest to challenging Colbert’s team record for homers, with 161.
Colbert came up to the big leagues in 1966. Two years later, the Padres chose him in the expansion draft and he made an immediate impact.
Through 1973, he averaged 30 homers a year while hitting .260 and making three All-Star teams, according to MLB.com. In one of those seasons, 1972, he placed eighth in the National League’s MVP Award voting.
The St. Louis native also played for Houston, Detroit, Montreal and Oakland.