MLB

San Diego Padres owner Peter Seidler dies at 63

Nov 14, 2023, 2:04 PM

Peter Seidler...

San Diego Padres Chairman Peter Seidler speaks at a news conference to announce finalizing a contract with Xander Bogaerts, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, in San Diego. Seidler, who spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to bring a long-elusive World Series championship to San Diego, died on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, the team announced. He was 63.(AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

(AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Padres owner Peter Seidler, who spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to bring a long-elusive World Series championship to San Diego, died on Tuesday, the team announced. He was 63.

A cause of death wasn’t disclosed. Seidler, who grew up around the game as a third-generation member of the O’Malley family that used to own the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, was a two-time cancer survivor. The team announced in mid-September that Seidler had an unspecified medical procedure in August and wouldn’t be back at the ballpark the rest of the year.

“Peter was an extraordinary leader and had the confidence and support of everyone in the Padre organization and the San Diego community,” Seidler’s uncle, Peter O’Malley, said in an email to The Associated Press. “When he moved to San Diego to lead the Padres he was one hundred percent committed to bring to San Diego its first World Championship. He was all in and the Padres never had a bigger fan. Our family will miss his passion, optimism and friendship.”

Peter Seidler and his brother Tom, as well as cousins Kevin and Brian O’Malley, bought into the Padres in 2012 with advice and support from Peter O’Malley, who owned the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1979-1998. Peter O’Malley’s father, Walter, moved the franchise from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.

The Padres planned to open Petco Park on Tuesday afternoon for fans who wished to gather and pay respects.

“Today, our love and prayers encircle Peter’s family as they grieve the loss of an extraordinary husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend,” Padres CEO Erik Greupner said in a statement. “Peter was a kind and generous man who was devoted to his wife, children, and extended family. He also consistently exhibited heartfelt compassion for others, especially those less fortunate.

“His impact on the city of San Diego and the baseball world will be felt for generations,” Greupner said. “His generous spirit is now firmly embedded in the fabric of the Padres. Although he was our Chairman and owner, Peter was at his core a Padres fan. He will be dearly missed.”

Seidler was part of a group that purchased the Padres in 2012, and he bought out Ron Fowler’s majority stake in November 2020. Seidler also bought Rawlings Sporting Goods Company Inc. in conjunction with MLB in 2018 and was founder and managing partner of Seidler Equity Partners.

It was with Seidler’s blessing that the Padres boosted their payroll to about $258 million on opening day, third-highest in the majors, after making a stirring run to the NL Championship Series the previous fall. The Padres underwhelmed most of the season despite having a star-studded lineup and missed the playoffs.

Seidler shrugged off questions about whether the Padres’ big spending on players like Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts was sustainable and mentioned how badly he wanted a championship parade for a city that has never had one.

“Do I believe our parade is going to be on land or on water or on both?” he said. “Putting a great and winning team on the field in San Diego year after year is sustainable.”

Seidler scoffed at the notion that San Diego was a small market. He viewed it as a unique city where the Padres were the only major pro sports franchise after the Chargers left for Los Angeles in 2017. Fans packed Petco Park last year, where the Padres set a franchise attendance record of 3,232,310 in 79 games, including 59 sellouts. The Padres were the home team in two games against San Francisco in Mexico City.

“I am deeply saddened by the news of Peter’s passing,” Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement from Arlington, Texas, where Major League Baseball owners are holding league meetings this week. “Peter grew up in a baseball family, and his love of the game was evident throughout his life. He was passionate about owning the Padres and bringing the fans of San Diego a team in which they could always take pride.”

Machado was a personal favorite of Seidler, and the slugger received a new $350 million, 11-year deal last spring training despite saying he would opt out of the original $300 million deal he signed in 2019.

The Padres gave Bogaerts a $280 million, 11-year deal last December. In 2021, the Padres signed Fernando Tatis Jr. to a $340 million, 14-year deal. They traded for young star Juan Soto at the deadline in 2022.

Seidler’s death comes at a critical time for the franchise. The Padres are closing in on hiring a manager to replace Bob Melvin, who left for San Francisco last month after clashing with general manager A.J. Preller. The Padres also are debating whether to keep or trade Soto, who is under control for just one more season.

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