Peter Seidler, a man who often walked around cradling a baseball in his hands, who dressed more modestly than his employees and who spent unprecedented amounts of money in a smallish media market, was unlike any other owner of a major-league franchise. He set himself apart from the beginning, with the manner in which he entered that exclusive club.
In an interview two years ago, Seidler recalled being “locked in my house” in late 2011. That year, he had begun undergoing chemotherapy and other in-home treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He remembered feeling physically “OK” and “terribly bored.” A baseball team down the highway from the then-Los Angeles-area resident happened to be for sale. So Seidler, a successful private equity investor and a scion of the family that moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Chavez Ravine, asked for more information about the San Diego Padres.
Curiosity soon turned into determination. “That hit me as I looked at the materials,” Seidler said in the 2021 interview. “With my background in private equity, I’d seen a lot of terrific companies and been a part of them. But one thing about professional sports, to reiterate what I first heard from Commissioner (Bud) Selig, baseball is a social institution, and it always has been. I believe to this day it’s America’s pastime, and the impact that the San Diego Padres can have on the city and county of San Diego is something like no other business can have. And that was important to me.”
Seidler died Tuesday morning. He was 63. He will be remembered as an owner who indeed treated the Padres as a social institution, who lifted the franchise to unprecedented prominence, and who set himself apart until the end.
“Peter was probably the most positive person I knew,” Ron Fowler, who teamed with Seidler to buy the Padres in 2012, said Tuesday afternoon. “To say he saw the cup as half-full is probably a misstatement. I think he saw it close to three-quarters full. He saw the possibilities, the upside in everything. He always said things could be fixed or ‘this will happen.’ He just was extremely positive with how he looked at people, problems, everything. He always saw the good. I think that was the way he was in relationships, that’s the way he was in business, and obviously it served him well.”
My heart hurts with the unfortunate news of Peter Seidler’s passing. I’m sure everyone that knew him would agree with me when I say Peter was a truly wonderful human being, and being in his presence was always a blessing. He was a teacher of life, and taught me countless… — ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) November 14, 2023In an industry known for its pursuit of cold, hard profit, Seidler was a beloved figure, even as he helped turn Petco Park into one of baseball’s most popular destinations. Several years ago, he emerged further emboldened after a second bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.