San Diego Padres owner Peter Seidler, who spent big in pursuit of a World Series title, dies at 63

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Peter Seidler loved to dream out loud about a World Series parade for his San Diego Padres and their long-suffering fans. He spent that way, too, fearlessly committing hundreds of millions of dollars toward trying to bring his adopted hometown its first major title.

The owner and chairman of the club, Seidler dismissed the notion that San Diego was a small market and constantly redirected questions about how the Padres could sustain their big-spending ways on players like Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Fernando Tatis Jr.

He was sure the baseball gods would one day smile on San Diego and there would be a championship parade for a franchise that lost its only two World Series appearances, the latter one coming in 1998.

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

Seidler, who grew up around the game as a third-generation member of the O'Malley family that used to own the Dodgers, died on Tuesday, the Padres announced. He was 63.

A cause of death wasn't disclosed. Seidler 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.

Seidler had said any affinity for the Dodgers was in his past. During the 2022 season, he said the Dodgers were “the dragon up the freeway that we’re trying to slay." The Padres did just that, beating the Dodgers in the division series to reach their first NL Championship Series since 1998.

The Padres opened 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 loved his players, and they loved him back.

“My heart hurts with the unfortunate news of Peter Seidler’s passing,” right-hander Yu Darvish posted on X, formerly Twitter. “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 lessons from all the interactions we had. May his beautiful soul rest in peace.”

Late in the afternoon, Darvish and his wife, Seiko Yamamoto, both wearing No. 11 Darvish home jerseys, left a bouquet of flowers at a memorial to Seidler and bowed their heads.

At FanFest in February, thousands of fans chanted “Peter! Peter! Peter!” as Seidler walked on stage for a panel discussion. Seidler, a low-key, aw-shucks kind of guy, said later that it was an honor to be there.

“When your players are good, I guess, it flows to people like me. But it really was all about the players," Seidler said. He was active in the community, particularly in trying to solve the area's homelessness crisis.

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 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 viewed San Diego 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, when 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 owners are meeting 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 Tatis 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, although they will pause that process until next week. The Padres also are debating whether to keep or trade Soto, who is under control for just one more season.

Seidler is survived by his wife, Sheel, and their three children; his mother, Terry; and nine brothers and sisters.


AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report.