Legendary voice of Padres, Ted Leitner, puts down mic after 41 years

(Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

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Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres announced that play-by-play voice, Ted Leitner, is moving into an ambassador role with the front office. 

The team announced Friday that Leitner would no longer be on the radio, yielding to the talented Jesse Agler for play-by-play and the esteemed Tony Gwynn Jr. for color commentary. Leitner now moves to the front office as Team Ambassador. The 73-year-old was part of Padres radio since 1980.

If you grew up in San Diego, before the days of XM radio or online streaming, you likely heard the silky voice of Ted Leitner at some point. His voice is synonymous with many things, like a warm summer afternoon in San Diego, be it at Jack Murphy Stadium/Qualcomm Stadium or beautiful Petco Park. If you were listening to “Uncle Teddy” call a ballgame, you likely weren’t actually at the park unless you were one of those dedicated few with a portable radio. You might have been on the beach in Oceanside or camping out in the Anza Borrego Desert, or commuting home from work downtown, Uncle Teddy took you to the ballpark and gave you the sights and sounds of Padres baseball no matter where you were.

Of course, now, you listen to your favorite sports team’s radio broadcast from all over the world. From Olympia, Washington to Leitner’s home state of New York, fans listened to Padres baseball wherever they went, and Leitner went with you thanks to technology.

Whenever, however, or wherever you listened to him, it didn’t take long to hear one of his catchphrases like “caaaa-rushed!” after a Friars’ home run or “this ballgame belongs to my San Diego Padres” as the victory bell tolls after the third out.

Leitner became a part of the Padres organization before the great Tony Gwynn even was drafted in 1981. He witnessed and brought to life the rise and growth of the franchise with Mr. Padre at the helm with Jerry Coleman by his side. Not many people got to watch Gwynn’s career from start to finish at such close range. Leitner was one of the lucky few.

His longevity is impressive, especially in an age where there are so many moving parts, and people don’t seem to stay in one place as long. Over the last 41 years, Leitner was in the booth for every playoff game in the franchise’s history, including both trips to the World Series in 1984 and 1998. The man is a walking encyclopedia of “My Padres,” as he calls them.

He recently was named California’s Co-Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sports Media Association in 2020, as he called one of the most exciting seasons in Padres history. It is sad that he did not get a proper farewell tour in the booth but take comfort in the fact that he got to bring to life that special 2020 season, with Slam Diego and the first playoff series win in 22 years.

Moving forward, San Diego is still very spoiled with the immense talent it enjoys in the broadcast booths, with a very fun and entertaining TV crew in Mark Grant and Don Orsillo. On the radio side, Agler is a professional in the best sense of the word, and Gwynn Jr., who is one of the smarter baseball minds the Padres have in the clubhouse or in the booth. Along with the highly regarded Eduardo Ortega, Carlos Hernández, and Pedro Gutiérrez on the Spanish call, San Diego is a hotbed for broadcast talent. Still, San Diegans and Padres fans will sorely miss the smooth voice of Uncle Teddy Leitner calling a Padres ballgame and his bottomless pit of knowledge of the franchise.

1 thought on “Legendary voice of Padres, Ted Leitner, puts down mic after 41 years

  1. I’ve been around since before Ted Leitner was in the booth. He was on TV locally as a sports anchor. He wasn’t always easy for me to watch or listen to. I had to grow from tolerating him to mostly enjoying him. Much like Jerry Coleman, I think Ted is synonymous with Padre baseball.

    Grant and Orsillo… I truly enjoy their broadcasts. Most baseball broadcasts are very dry and can put one to sleep and I rarely watch or listen. These two have fun doing what they are doing. I hope the Padres sign them both long term and don’t let either of them leave. Padre games just would not be the same without them.

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