On January 15, 2021, the Padres announced that Ted Leitner will no longer be calling games from the booth and will transition to a new role as “team ambassador.”
Ambassador Ted? It just doesn’t have the same ring to it, right?
The “uncle” designation turned out to be the perfect way to describe him. Ted was, and always will be, part of the family. The uncle who always shows up, loves to talk baseball, never runs out of stories, and is forever on your side.
The relationship formed between a fanbase and its broadcasters can run deep, and this was certainly the case with Ted. Padres fans have experienced so many failed seasons, and Ted has been right there with us for more than four decades.
Ted covered Tony Gwynn’s entire career and delighted in doing so. He alerted us to countless ninth innings of “Trevor (Hoffman) Time” and was there for the team’s championship races in 1984 and 1998.
And, he clearly loves the current squad. After broadcasting the Padres’ 2020 playoff games remotely from Petco Park, Ted sent out this tweet.
But Ted also understands the pain and frustration of Padres fans. He never sugar-coats his opinions, nor does he pretend to be objective or impartial.
It is these shared experiences, honesty, and the way he understands our narrative that will forever endear Ted to Padres fans.
I say this with the utmost sincerity. Uncle Teddy epitomizes the voice of sports for me. I’ll always hear and see baseball through his humor, kindness, enthusiasm and storytelling. When you love baseball, you want to listen to someone who is as romantic about it as you are. And Uncle Teddy has always been someone who loved our teams and loves our town. – Trevor
When the Padres announced Leitner’s retirement from the booth, messages from fans on social media poured in, including this one from Duane who said he listened to games called by Ted in the 1980s while on deployment in Korea.
For several generations of fans, their memories of growing up with Padres baseball include sharing the game with parents, grandparents, and Ted.
I learned to love the Padres from my grandmother. I had to be 5 years old when my grandma told me who Teddy was. She had a paper mask (must have been a fan giveaway thing) of Teddy’s face with the eyes cut out and I thought it was so hilarious when she would put on that mask and say, “another hit for Tony!” Because of my grandma’s love for Teddy, he’s a really important figure to me, not only for my fandom, but for my childhood. – Wes
I grew up without cable so my first few years as a Padres fan was him and Jerry on the radio. They basically were the Padres to me. They brought the Padres to life. Even now, whenever I hear his voice, memories of my childhood rush back. – John
My late father used to love listening to Ted on the radio. They both had the “gift of gab” and were East Coast transplants. We listened on old school boom box radios or the free Padres radio headsets at the beach! Fun times!! – Nick
Uncle Teddy and the Colonel will always be the voices of my childhood. The best memories I have of Ted were driving around with my dad in his old truck listening to the Padres game. Whenever we would hit a home run, we would both yell out “Ball going, ball loooooong gone.” Gonna miss that. – Kian