Padres vow to fulfill late owner Seidler's dream of bringing a World Series title to San Diego

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego Padres stars and executives remembered late owner Peter Seidler with laughter and some emotional moments on Saturday while vowing to fulfill his dream of bringing a World Series championship to his adopted hometown.

A celebration of life was held for Seidler at Petco Park five days before the Padres play their home opener. Seidler died of an undisclosed cause on Nov. 14. He was 63.

Seidler was a third-generation member of the O'Malley family that used to own the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. But he was all-in on the Padres as part of a group that bought them in 2012. He became majority owner in November 2020 and fearlessly committed hundreds of millions of dollars toward trying to bring the city and it's long-suffering fans their first championship.

“Just about a year ago, Peter said one day the baseball gods would smile on the Padres and we'd have a parade in San Diego,” his brother, Tom, a Padres senior vice president, said at the end of the two-hour program in front of about 2,000 fans. “And Peter opened the question about the celebration being on land or at sea. Today we have the answer. When that day happens, the celebration will be both on land and on sea and also in the heavens above. Peter, Tony Gwynn, Jerry Coleman and others will be leading the celebration upstairs.”

Tom Seidler, general manager A.J. Preller and third baseman Manny Machado all became emotional during their speeches.

Machado called Seidler “one of the greatest humans that I’ve had the privilege of knowing. Peter left a huge mark. Not just in the world of baseball, but in our community. His legacy will live through the countless lives he’s touched and the impact he left on everyone in this building.”

Machado recounted meeting Seidler at a luncheon shortly after he signed as a free agent in 2019.

“All I remember was Peter in the corner, tossing a baseball up and down, rubbing it like he was rubbing dirt on it," Machado said. "That was Peter. It was then that I learned Peter's passion, respect and love he had for this game. He was a mentor and a friend and he changed baseball in the city of San Diego forever.

“I know you are here with us, with a baseball in your hand, watching us, cheering us on, our No. 1 fan,” Machado said. "We will continue to work hard to fulfill your longtime dream which is to bring a parade to this city while we hold up the commissioner's trophy at the end of the year.

“We love you, Peter.”

Preller, the GM since 2014, said one of the last times he sat down with Seidler was last summer during the midst the most disappointing season in club history. The big-spending Padres had World Series aspirations after making it to the NL Championship Series in 2022, but flopped and missed the playoffs.

“Peter asked a lot of questions like he always did. He was very optimistic and at the end he said, ‘You know, I think this is going to turn around,’ and had his thoughts on why," Preller said. "And then he broke out this clear plastic bag that looked like it had a controlled substance in it and he said, ‘Let's go light this on the field and smoke this up.' I thought, ‘Wow, that’s pretty aggressive.' I knew Peter was a free spirit but wasn't sure what was going on.'

Preller said he and Seidler needed help from a staffer to light the bundle of sage on fire “and carried it like the Olympic torch from right field right to the pitcher's mound. It was there that we spoke good things to our pitchers, spoke about some positive energy into the universe.”

Preller said they went to home plate, where Seidler's wife, Sheel, joined them. "We took our shoes off and said good things for our hitters and our bats to get our bats going.”

Just then the Chicago Cubs entered the ballpark from their adjoining hotel. The GM said he was asked later, "'Was that the owner of the Padres and the GM openly praying for some offense?' To which I told the Chicago media, ‘You’re ... damn right, we're trying to do everything we can to win here in San Diego. But that was Peter. He was unique, he was brilliant and he did it with a smile on his face and he loved to have fun."

Preller said the Padres "are going to do everything we can both this year and the years to come to honor Peter's legacy and vision and we will bring that championship here to San Diego. We'll do it with a smile on our face and a peace sign emoji in our emails.”

Mayor Todd Gloria said a street near Petco Park will be renamed Peter Seidler Way. The Padres unveiled a large yellow heart containing the initials PS on the wall of the press box.

“His kids came up with the heart with PS in the middle of it,” Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman told the crowd. “He loved big. Don't forget that.”

The entire Padres team and coaching staff attended the celebration less than 48 hours after returning from Seoul, South Korea, where they opened the season by splitting a two-game series against the Dodgers.

Also attending were Hall of Famer Dave Winfield; agent Scott Boras; former Dodgers and Padres star Steve Garvey, now the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate; tennis great Rod Laver; and former basketball star Ralph Sampson, who met Seidler while they were attending the University of Virginia.