Dodgers Take Over the Padres

I have spent my whole life cheering for losing teams. I grew up in Iowa and I never saw the Hawkeyes win the Rose Bowl. I lived 17 years in Minnesota, where the Vikings could get to the Super Bowl but always got thrashed once they arrived.

Now I live in San Diego, a city that’s  never been home of a powerhouse team, collegiate or professional. So what am I to think of the fact that the O’Malley family is about to take over the San Diego Padres?

The son and the grandsons of Walter O’Malley are part of a group that is buying the Padres for $800 million. Walter was the man who owned the Brooklyn Dodgers and made baseball history by moving them to LA.

A joke once told in Brooklyn: You’re in a room with Hitler, Stalin and Walter O’Malley. What do you do when you’ve got a gun with only two bullets? You shoot O’Malley twice to make sure he’s dead.

I don’t remember my father ever saying he hated Walter O’Malley. But he did grow up a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers because he grew up in upstate New York in a town that was home to a Brooklyn farm team. He worked at a golf club in Elmira as a teenager and once caddied for a group of Dodger players that included the great shortstop Pee Wee Reese.

When the Dodgers left Brooklyn, my dad stopped being a Dodger fan.

In Dodger history, Walter O’Malley was a better villain than a hero. He not only abandoned Brooklyn, he drummed out of the Dodger organization the sainted Branch Rickey, who desegregated major league baseball by signing Jackie Robinson.

Now it looks like Walter’s heirs will be running the San Diego Padres, and they are paying Padres’ owner John Moores a king’s ransom. The sale price is ten times the amount Moores paid for the club in 1994.

Baseball history and my family history make me like the connection to the Dodgers, even though my Dad never cheered for LA. Maybe it was because they were too successful. It was easier, somehow, to root for the Brooklyn Dodgers who typically lost the big game. Maybe backing losers runs in my family.

And maybe the Padres will keep being losers. It might serve the O’Malley family right. But now that they’re in San Diego, they’re on my side. So I’m stuck with wishing them well.

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