Yes all aboard the Taco Train!!
Yea, sort of absurd image, but since almost everything about the history of the San Diego Padres has a surreal quality, I’m sticking with it. All aboard the Taco Train. In fact, it’s already left the station.
Before we go any further, let’s take a step back, for this train had been broken for many years, left to the buzzards and the holy fools, basically for the scrap heap. It then came under the stewardship of essentially two men: Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler. More perfect owners of the Taco Train could not be found.
Well, maybe if one of them was a multi-billionaire who could throw exorbitant salaries around from here to eternity, and buy the Padres some destiny. But that would be no fun. That would be like trading in tacos for Yankee steak, well done. None of us true San Diegans want that, we like authentic Southwestern, border-style meals.
These two men are not multi-billionaires but have enough jack to competently run a Major League Baseball team, unlike former owners of the train (look no further than the wicked Jeff Moorad), who cheapskated and disrespected the team into the dustbins of baseball misery.
Fowler is the local guy made good, bleeding San Diego since his youth. He wears his heartstrings on his sleeve. They say he can’t stand losing and as anyone knows who is a fan of San Diego sports, if you can’t stand losing you’ve suffered A LOT in the last half century of living.
Fowler has a bit of the Ray Kroc in him, Kroc being a former owner on the altar of any true Padre fan who literally saved the Padres from leaving town long ago. Kroc wasn’t afraid to call out his team and Fowler apparently isn’t either. He craves a championship for San Diego because he’s a San Diegan and he knows how much we not only need it, but deserve it. Fowler represents San Diego’s collective id in his passion to make the Taco Train everything it can be.
As important as Fowler is, and he’s essential, Seidler is the missing link. Grand nephew of Walter O’Malley, longtime owner of the Dodgers, Seidler comes from baseball royalty. Being part of the O’Malley clan is akin to being a Kennedy or Bush in politics or, more sports related, a Rooney if you’re in Pittsburgh and part of the Steelers. Seidler has the bona fides and it’s clear, in his own quiet behind the scenes manner, he has seen the bigger picture from the moment he blew into town.
Sediler is the man with the long view and the patience to carry it out. He also knows as a small trains have to outwork the big trains. He’s the one who gives the train gravitas. So they bought themselves the train which was in disrepair from neglect and quite frankly, outright abuse. Scorned, ridiculed, the butt of more snark than Jesus in front of Pilate, these two set about fixing the train and getting it running again. And lo and behold, a few years later the Taco Train has finally left the station, quietly at first, basically under the cover of darkness but if you look close, if you’re paying attention, with a brand new, finely tuned engine and sparkling from front to back.
In reality, the Taco Train has never looked better, for reasons I shall explain next time. There is still plenty of time to get on board as the fun is just beginning, but the satisfaction comes from being on board as early as possible, just to see what is going to happen next. So when the train reaches the Promised Land in the not too distant future you can say, with complete sincerity, “I once was hungry, but the Taco Train has filled me, forevermore.”
I was at the Kirby/Gomez “no hitter” Curse game. I was at the Holy Roller game. Though I love the man and what he did for the Padres, I cried when they retired Steve Garvey’s number. By my estimation I witnessed in person, watched on tv or listened on the radio to over 3,000 of Tony’s 3,141 hits. Jerry Coleman’s initials aren’t J.C. for no reason.