Ron Fowler relinquishes some power within the San Diego Padres.
On Wednesday, Ron Fowler announced that he would resign from his position as executive chairman of the San Diego Padres. Passionate and outspoken, he leaves the organization in the capable hands of Peter Seidler.
Fowler arrived in San Diego in 1974. CEO of Liquid Investments Inc., a lucrative beer distributorship, Fowler first became involved with the team in 2012. He joined a minority group headed by Jeff Moorad that attempted to take over from John Moores. During Moores’ tenure, the team reached the World Series in 1998 for just the second time in team history, which helped convince voters to support the construction of Petco Park. However, a nasty divorce forced Moores to unload the franchise.
After the Moorad group failed to pull off the deal, Fowler pivoted and teamed up with Peter and Tom Seidler and Kevin and Brian O’Malley, heirs to the O’Malley family. Walter O’Malley brought baseball to Los Angeles and approved the signing of Jackie Robinson, the first Black player in Major League Baseball history.
The deal finalized, Fowler took over as executive director and, along with Peter Seidler, helped guide the team through a tumultuous eight years. At one time, Fowler also owned the San Diego Sockers, an indoor soccer team, from 1987 to 1990. During his tenure, the Padres reached new heights in expenditures.
Fowler and Seidler hired A.J. Preller as general manager and approved his “Prellerpalooza,” an overhaul of the roster and the coaching staff; supported his expensive investment in international talent in 2016; stood by him through a suspension involving medical records; and approved the most expensive contracts in team history for Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, and Manny Machado.
Along the way, the team continued its losing ways—until this year. For the 76-year-old Fowler, what better time to step aside? The Padres not only weathered a pandemic and a season like no other, but the team also made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Bad luck intervened with the injuries to Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet, but Fowler leaves a legacy of high hopes for the future.
Fowler freely admitted that he didn’t relish the idea of navigating another season possibly threatened by Coronavirus. With the country and state experiencing new highs in infections and “Covid fatigue” setting in and causing people to take risks, the prospect of another logistical nightmare, financial losses, and a ballpark without fans helped convince Fowler to step down. Reports indicate that he had not made a snap decision but had been discussing the prospect with Seidler since September.
Throughout his tenure, Fowler has left no doubt about his feelings. After a 16-4 Padres loss in 2016, Fowler called out one of Preller’s first acquisitions, starting pitcher James Shields. Undoubtedly frustrated by the Padres 20-33 record at the beginning of June, Fowler pronounced the team “embarrassing.” Admittedly Shields had not performed well in San Diego. At the time, his seven losses were tied with for league lead. He’d given up eight hits and 10 runs in just three innings in his latest start. However, calling out players or the team as a whole could have adversely affected the ability of the Padres’ to attract veteran players.
At the end of the season last year, Fowler’s frustration again boiled over, causing him to announce that heads would roll if the team didn’t succeed in 2020. In all fairness, he did include himself in the threat. He undoubtedly spoke for many disenchanted fans after the team plummeted from a winning record early in 2019 to a 70-92 finish. Manager Andy Green had already been fired, and Preller undoubtedly got the message loud and clear.
Why not end on a high note? Fowler won’t be relinquishing the reigns completely. Seidler will become the major shareholder and team chairman, but Fowler will move to a vice-chairman. He will also continue in his role as Padres representative for the league.
Ron Fowler has been the team’s most passionate fan through the ups and downs, far from a businessman concentrating on the bottom line.