San Diego Padres Fans Need to be Thankful for Ron Fowler

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 31: Jayce Tingler (2nd-R) poses for a photo with San Diego Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler (L) general manager A.J. Preller (2nd-L) and general partner Peter Seidler (R) at a news conference held to announce Tingler's hiring as the new manager of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park October 31, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 31: Jayce Tingler (2nd-R) poses for a photo with San Diego Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler (L) general manager A.J. Preller (2nd-L) and general partner Peter Seidler (R) at a news conference held to announce Tingler's hiring as the new manager of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park October 31, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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A relatively quiet offseason for the San Diego Padres got a surprising jolt as Ron Fowler is stepping away from the team.

Major League Baseball’s offseason hasn’t brought much in the way of wheeling and dealing among the teams looking to make a big move with their roster. Rumors of potential deals have been non-existent since the last pitch of the 2020 World Series.

However, news of a shift in the San Diego Padres ownership did come as a bit of a surprise. The team announced that Ron Fowler was stepping down as executive chairman of the franchise. Also, he sold a portion of his stake in the team to general partner Peter Seidler, which gave him controlling interest in the Padres.

Fowler was the Voice of the Fans

It was a seamless transfer of power as MLB approved Seidler as the team’s new chairman. Thus ending Fowler’s tenure with the Padres. He will be missed as he became the “voice” of the fans. We haven’t seen this type of fiery attitude from the Padres owner’s box since the days of Ray Kroc.

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Fowler wasn’t shy about criticizing the Padres if their play failed to meet his standards. Who could forget Fowler’s “heads will roll” comment to season ticketholders following the disappointing 2019 season. Or voicing his displeasure at James Shields’ mound production after signing him to a big money free agent contract. That outburst led to the Friars dealing the righthander to the Chicago White Sox for an unknown minor league shortstop named Fernando Tatis Jr. I don’t hear too many Padres fans complaining about that trade at all.

No question, Fowler is a fan by heart and felt their concerns needed to be brought to the table. At times, his comments ruffled some feathers, but Fowler wanted to be straight-forward and honest with his fan base. He understands the quality of the product on the field affects ticket sales. If the play is poor, then the fans’ interest wanes quickly. If the situation isn’t rectified, entertainment dollars will go elsewhere. Poorly run sports franchises can become distant memories fast today.

Fowler’s Quest for Success was Uphill Climb

When he acquired the Padres, Fowler knew it was going to be an uphill climb to get the franchise relevant in the sport once again. But it didn’t stop him from thinking he could convince two high-profile free agents (Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado) to continue their careers in San Diego. And in both cases, the mission was accomplished.

The Padres were baseball’s biggest surprise in 2020. The Friars posted a 37-23 record in the COVID-19 pandemic shortened regular season. That mark captured the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2006. Even though, the Padres playoff run ended with a divisional round sweep by the dreaded Los Angeles Dodgers. The season was a major success. Now, fans are speculating on adding pieces to the puzzle, instead of bemoaning the fact that the front office will auction off a player to cut payroll.

Friars Future Looks Bright

Not much should change with Seidler at the helm. He is firmly committed to winning. Plus, you may see the bank open to keep some of the core players in San Diego for beyond the 2021 season. No reason to believe the window of opportunity is closing on the Padres any time soon.

Thankfully, Fowler will remain involved with the Padres as a minority shareholder and advisor to Seidler. Plus, he will play a role in the upcoming labor talks that are scheduled to begin next year. Previously, Fowler was chairman of the baseball’s labor committee in the last collective bargaining agreement in 2015. And his calming, but strong voice could help ease the tensions that have developed on both sides. Baseball has major financial issues that need to be dealt with, so the pending negotiations could get quite heated.

No question that Fowler has left his mark on the San Diego sports scene. Whether it is his financial contributions that have enhanced San Diego State University and University of San Diego athletic programs. Or witnessing the San Diego Sockers win five consecutive indoor soccer championships during his reign (1987-1991) as owner. Plus, Fowler chaired the local task force that selected the site Petco Park stands on today. And he chaired the host committee for Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003.

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Still, Ron Fowler will be best remembered for being the spirited leader that brought the San Diego Padres back to prominence in town.

Thanks!