“Padres Owners–Some Good-Some Bad”
In the history of Padres ownership, we have covered the spectrum.
Good people. Bad People. Greedy people. Benevolent people.
Good leaders. Unqualified owners.
It stretches from C-Arnholt Smith, he of prison conviction fame, who wanted to move the team to Washington, DC.
It was saved by Ray and Joan Kroc, who spent money, wasted money, made an impact in the community, but at times did not know what they were doing.
Tom Werner and the Gang of 15 inherited a mess, were under financed, and had to pay their share of the collusion bill in the ugly lawsuit filed by the union.
John Moores and Larry Lucchino saved the Padres credibility, built Petco Park, made enormous money by virtue of their real estate investments, then left.
Jeff Moorad was a caretaker and probably got a nice slice of profit for overseeing the next sale of the franchise.
Ron Fowler headed the group that bought the team and a chunk of Fox Sports San Diego. He brought on board Peter Seidler, established credibility, did renovations to Petco Park, and became a cornerstone in the community with t philanthropy.
Now Fowler is leaving baseball, ending an 18-year involvement with the franchise. He has sold his stock. He is leaving as Vice Chairman. He has exited his role in Labor negotiations.
Why the decision to leave the team?
He’s 77-years of age, and has spent a lifetime as a business success, first in the beer distribution business. Then with his firm Liquid Investments.
He tried his hand at running the San Diego Sockers in the waning days of its NASL-MISL fame run.
He has been actively involved in giving to both USD and SDSU, in athletics and academics.
Maybe it’s time to kick back, globe trot and enjoy the life he was so good at in business.
Maybe the reality that sports franchises have become Fortune 500-companies and that eventually leads to a war over money, owners-vs-players soured him.
Maybe it was the aftermath of the angry 99-day lockout that hurt the game again, as it has in its 9-work stoppages.
Maybe it has to do with being in the playoffs just once in 14-years.
Maybe it is different in philosophy with now lead owner Peter Seidler, about budgets, spending sprees, and the lack of checks and balances with GM-AJ Preller and his acquisitions.
Maybe it was the salary structure of pay for anyone and everyone where there is no ceiling on what some owners are willing to pay stars, which impacts every other price structure of players on everyone on the roster.
Maybe it was the constant ‘cash calls’ owners had to make.
Maybe it was the greed factor on both street corners.
Maybe it was the dislike of the hawks in ownership, bulls in the china closet, who carry alot of clout over the Commissioner’s office.
The game has changed for sure, on the baseball side, on the owners side, on the business side.
How should we view Ron Fowler?
Baseball fan, baseball man, business man?
Leadership guy or follower?
As a baseball man, he was the one who called out the bad chemistry in his own clubhouse in the Matt Kemp-Justin Upton-James Shields era.
As a business man, he never took the money and tried to run, like Dean Spanos did with the Chargers. Fowler instead positioned the Padres as an on field success, a respected member of the business community, making Petco Park a destination point.
A franchise that likely will draw 3M-a year is what is still a small market, once it becomes a playoff participant yearly. He will see how great a baseball market is, fans following a winning Padres team, and those transplants with love for the Dodges, Yankees, Red Sox, Pirates and all, flooding the stadium on game night.
Some like him, some don’t. That’s the way it goes in baseball. He’s not Ballard Smith nor Chub Feeney. Surely not the disliked Alex or Dean Spanos.
Winning and losing often is confused with how an owner should be viewed.
The depth of a man should be more than just his valued wealth.
I’ve sat with Fowler in his box seats; talked-argued with him in spring training; valued his counselled background information about off the field matters; and appreciated his firebrand personality of fixing things that were not working.
You walk the campus on Alcala Way at USD or within the Athletic Center at SDSU and you see the other side of the Ron Fowler’s touch.
We should say thanks for his leadership of the franchise. The Kroc’s saved the team. Lucchino and Moores created a new era. Fowler with Seidler have brought pride back to a city so badly damaged by the NFL owner in town.
His legacy will be what he did for athletics and academics here in San Diego. Heart in the right place, money too.
That’s what we take from the Fowler era.