San Diego Union-Tribune: Leitner, Lucchino take ‘great pride’ in induction to Padres Hall of Fame

Venerable broadcaster, catalyst behind Petco Park join Hall


JULY 7, 2022 9:26 PM PT

In a moment that showed the personality of each of the inductees to the Padres Hall of Fame who were honored before Thursday’s game, former club President and Petco Park catalyst Larry Lucchino got a quick shot in on venerable announcer Ted Leitner, as game time against the Giants had come and gone with the ceremony ongoing.

“Ted Leitner just exceeded his allotted time by 600 percent,” Lucchino told the crowd with his trademark wince.

And, of course, everyone was shocked and amazed. Actually, Leitner — who emceed so many of these events — wasn’t even done yet. He grabbed the podium again after Lucchino had addressed the crowd, naming people he forgot to thank — including the Famous San Diego Chicken, Ted Giannoulas, who Leitner asked to stand but who apparently wouldn’t out of costume.

One thing was clear after the ceremony was over: Both Lucchino and Leitner are extremely proud they were asked to join the biggest names on and off the field in Padres history, and there was a special sense of honor they were there together.

“I understood when I met him that Larry’s Don Rickles, and I’m the dummy in the first row he’s picking on,” Leitner said. “He said I’m like anchovies, an acquired taste. He said, Ted is one of the best broadcasters in the country — in his particular price range. The relationship we had, and I hate to say it when he’s standing right here, but he was so damn smart, whether it’s merchandising, television contracts, baseball contracts, baseball trades, I never met someone who knew all of it.”

Lucchino, who went on to lead the Boston Red Sox to their historic 2004 World Series victory, earned this nod by being the all-around executive Leitner described. But more than anything by being the energetic leader behind the Padres’ ascension to the 1998 World Series and the ensuing Proposition C vote that opened the door to Petco Park being built. Considering the Padres were on a contraction list after the 1994 work stoppage, it’s quite the journey to where they both stood Thursday.

From late 1994 until 2001, Lucchino was the leader of the organization at a time that made all that surrounded them happen.

“Ted said it best: It was Camelot,” Lucchino said. ““The feeling of that era is one of great pride.”

Nash Sanderson