Sweet Home San Diego: Jake Peavy Returns

Sweet Home San Diego: Jake Peavy Returns

For Jake Peavy and the Padres, it’s been a long time between phone calls. After Peavy was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 2009, more than a decade went by without much contact between the former ace and the team that drafted him in 1999.

But, as we have learned, Padres owner Peter Seidler does things differently.

“The organization reached out last year during [the playoff] run. I’ve had a few meetings with Tom and Peter Seidler. Erik Greupner has been fabulous in bringing me back into the fold. The Seidler family continues to make the San Diego Padres culture better, and I couldn’t be any more proud to be a part of it.”

Interview with Jake Peavy, The Darren Smith Show, 3/31/23

Peavy’s return has been met with widespread enthusiasm from fans. He threw a ceremonial first pitch during last year’s playoffs against the Dodgers, taking the mound to the familiar sounds of “Sweet Home Alabama,” and the crowd chanting “Beat LA!”

Photo credit: KC Alfred, SDUT

Rich Roberts, like thousands of other fans now in their 30s, grew up in an era of Padres baseball in the mid 2000s that featured Peavy as the team’s ace, a couple of division titles, and the opening of Petco Park. It wasn’t half bad, especially when Peavy was pitching.

Peavy was must-watch TV, every start. He was damn good, and he was homegrown. I’m glad to see that this ownership group has made amends with him.
No disrespect to Randy Jones, who the team still parades out, but it’s difficult for a lot of younger fans to connect with someone like him since he pitched so long ago. That’s not the case with Jake. I’m glad he’s back because he’s a Padre for life.

Rich Roberts, TKF interview 5/26/23

When Peavy was on the mound for the Padres it was like watching both a baseball player and a performance artist. He was extremely animated. He would talk (make that “scream”) to himself and storm around the mound to get himself into the right head space to mow down opponents.

“I was raised with a competitive streak inside me, to have that fire. I want to beat you with every ounce of my being.”

Jake Peavy, SDUT, 4/10/2005

Off the field, Peavy was a lot more mellow and one of the most genial players to ever suit up for the Padres.

Ryan Kakehashi had the opportunity as a youngster to get to know Peavy because his father worked for the team as a physician. Kakehashi could often be found waiting in the hallway outside of the clubhouse for his dad to finish his shift. Peavy would see him there and sit down on the floor to play word games and goof around.

I remember for an elementary school project we had to design an invention and make a sales pitch. Mine was a lightweight fishing pole holder. Guess who volunteered for my project!

– Ryan Kakehashi

In the mid-2000s, Peavy established himself as one of the most dominant starters in baseball and easily one of the best all-time pitchers in Padres history.

He was also the team’s heart and soul, giving fans a reason to show up when he was on the mound.

Trades of popular players are always difficult, but losing Peavy was a gut-punch for many Padres fans.

In mid-2009, after months of tortuous speculation and rumors, Peavy was dealt to the Chicago White Sox. At the time, Padres ownership (led by John Moores who was going through a messy and costly divorce) unloaded more than $55 million in salary obligations in the trade, most of which was owed to Peavy.

In addition to his tenure with the White Sox (2009-2013), Peavy pitched for the Boston Red Sox (2013-2014) and San Francisco Giants (2014-2016). He played key roles in Word Series runs for both Boston and San Francisco.

It felt like yet another case of small town San Diego losing their star to a big city. On top of that, the front office treated Jake like crap and dragged him through months and months of trade speculation. It was just an unfortunate end to an otherwise stellar run in San Diego.

And it was a major bummer to see him celebrated in Boston and San Francisco while the Padres seemed uninterested in ever acknowledging that he pitched for them, let alone won a Cy Young.

Rich Roberts, TKF interview 5/26/23

Peavy’s last season in the majors was 2016. He finished his career with a 152-126 record, a Cy Young Award (2007), three All-Star games (2005, 2007, 2012), and two World Series rings (2013, 2014). That’s a pretty good baseball card for a kid from rural Alabama whose grandfather taught him how to pitch, and more importantly, how to outsmart hitters and stay mentally tough.

Everyday in the back yard, Paw Paw [his grandfather] would dig his forefingers into Jake’s temples and say: “Focus.” Then he’d dig in further and say: “Nobody gets inside of there but you.

(ESPN The Magazine, 6/6/05)

Stepping away

If it seems like you didn’t hear much about Peavy after he left the game, that’s because you didn’t. He took some time away from baseball after several of life’s curveballs came his way.

In 2016, Peavy learned that his close friend and financial advisor, Ash Narayan, had been siphoning funds from client investment accounts for personal use. Peavy lost over $15 million in the scheme (Narayan was sentenced to three years in prison for defrauding Peavy and other athletes).

That same year, Peavy’s wife Katie (his high school sweetheart) filed for divorce. Peavy has five sons ranging in age from their early 20s to a toddler.

“The divorce … it rips your soul out. It’s not a fun thing to talk about or to put on anybody else’s plate. It’s my burden to carry. I went dark the past couple of years to get back to where we are today: full-steam ahead.”

Jake Peavy, Bleacher Report, 2/14/18

Peavy regained his footing back home in Alabama. He built a ranch, opened a music studio in Mobile, and poured himself into helping children in underserved communities through his educational foundation.

“You have to do in your own life what you preach to children in hospital beds or to soldiers with PTSD: You get back on your feet, and you keep truckin’ on.” –Jake Peavy, Bleacher Report, 2/14/18

By spring of 2022, Peavy was also back in baseball. He joined MLB Network as a studio analyst and says he enjoys bringing his “old school” perspective mixed in with an appreciation of analytics. Peavy also made an appearance with the Savannah Bananas in 2022.

Padre for Life

The night of July 28 – when Peavy is inducted into the Padres HOF – is going to have a little bit of everything.

  • Irony. Peavy is going into the Padres HOF with the owner who traded him away from the team, John Moores. The speeches will undoubtedly be civil and gracious towards each other, but it’s an interesting twist of fate that they’re going in together.
  • Nostalgia. Bruce Bochy will be there as manager of the Texas Rangers that night. Bochy was Peavy’s skipper in both San Diego and San Francisco.
  • Bro-hugs. Former teammate and close friend Trevor Hoffman will most certainly be in attendance. Tim Flannery, who gave Peavy his first guitar and loves him like a son, isn’t likely to miss it.
  • Dugout respect. Current players will be watching from the sidelines, especially Joe Musgrove who wears #44 as a tribute to Peavy being his favorite player when Musgrove was growing up in El Cajon.

And, of course, scores of Padres fans will fill the stadium along with a multitude of others watching from home. Jake Peavy gave everything he had (and then some) to this franchise. It’s about time we gave him his due.

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Mostly here to promote fun baseball! My focus is on our experiences as fans and shared connections in the baseball community. I also produce content on social media, including vlogs and event coverage. Instagram: Michelle_baseballfan247 Facebook: Michelle Frost; Member: IBWAA, SABR

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