Montreal Expos super fan, excellent baseball writer, and seemingly all around great guy Jonah Keri decided to make it his mission to get Tim Raines inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Using his reach as a widely read writer, he made the case to convince the powers that be to recognize Raines’ unique and extensive talents, as well as his historic accomplishments. After a long campaign, Keri finally got to see the object of his efforts get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.
To accomplish this, Keri had to convince a large group of mostly aging and irrelevant baseball writers to recognize that Raines was Hall of Fame material. In a similar situation, we have an aging and irrelevant former baseball writer holding the keys to the Padres Hall of Fame. Bill Center, official team historian, is the primary selection authority for induction. His selections have been curious to say the least. Center selected, likely to appease his boss and noted dickhead Mike Dee, Ted Williams for induction who played a total of 180 games for the PCL Padres. He also selected Garry Templeton whom accumulated a TOTAL of 7.5 WAR over ten seasons, or an average of 0.75 WAR per season. This was highlighted by an abysmal 0.9 WAR in the 1984 World Series season. Basically, he’s set the bar for players that are inducted really low here. In many ways, Center’s Padres Hall of Fame selections seem to be made to correspond and justify his poorly received Top 100 Padres of All Time list this Winter (which rated Ron Fowler as 19th most important Padre OF ALL TIME and had 11 of the top 20 as non-players). Center wrote this week that next up on his Hall of Fame docket are former GM Kevin Towers, best known for owning San Diego’s largest collection of Reyn Spooner shirts, and longtime announcer Ted Leitner. He went further and said that no players were in the upcoming list of inductees, and that Mark Grant and Eduardo Ortega are the next broadcasters to get in. This last part particularly piqued my interest because it doesn’t include one of the longest tenured Padres announcers, and one that is as integral to multiple generations of Padre game viewers and listeners. Bob Chandler served as radio and TV analyst for 33 years with the Padres, and in Bill Center’s world of kissing the ass of the bosses that sign his paychecks as number one priority, he barely exists.
So this will be my cause. This will be what I continue to harp about. Bob Chandler needs to be inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame. A little more background on Chandler. Even before the Padres began playing in 1969, Chandler worked behind the scenes with local news building support for an expansion team and for the construction of Jack Murphy Stadium. During the entirety of my baseball listening childhood and teenage years, the face of the Padres TV and radio broadcasts were a triumvirate of Jerry Coleman, Ted Leitner, and yes, Bob Chandler rotating between duties. For every memory I have of Jerry broadcasting a game and hanging a star, I have a memory of Chandler providing analysis and stories that only the foremost historian of the Padres could provide. For everything that Mark Grant provides on the broadcast as color analyst, he has done it for a bit more than half the time as Chandler. Chandler dripped professionalism, always prepared, always ready with a stat, anecdote, or story. He played beautifully off of both Ted and Jerry, as well as a host of other announcers. To me, he is as integral to the history of Padres broadcasters as Ted and Jerry. One of the reasons we love Ted and Jerry so much is that they span so many eras. They were a constant through turmoil, flashes of success, and then more turmoil. No matter how bad things got, we could always count on Ted, Jerry and Bob to take our minds off of Dario Veras pitching and onto tales of yesteryear when things seemed better with the club. Even after his final season as official analyst in 2003, Chandler stuck around the Padres doing pre and postgame shows, including his last gig with 1090 doing just amazing postgame work with Craig Elsten. I took my at the time baby daughter to see the man at work at Lolita’s and was shocked and impressed at Chandler’s level of prep, research and professional attitude for a postgame show occurring in the back of a mid-grade taco shop. It’s particularly jarring when you compare it to the amateurish and off the cuff work done by Rich Herrera in the same function today.
I get that there is a younger generation that likely has no idea what impact Bob Chandler had on the Padres and their fan base. At this point, 20-25 year olds may never have heard Bob Chandler’s work on the broadcast (other than his wonderful return to the mike for the 15th anniversary of the 1998 team with Mel Proctor and Mark Grant). But Bill Center should know. There is no excuse for Bill Center not to know. And to ignore the contributions and the impact that Bob Chandler had is criminal for the so-called official team historian.
Nowadays, Bob Chandler pops his head up once in a while to do a team preview with Fox 5 (and his daughter and Fox 5 contributor Jill Chandler). A few years ago the team brought him in to teach employees about Padres history, but other than that, Chandler seems to be forgotten by the team, and out of the public eye, hopefully by choice, as he enjoys retirement. He may be out of sight, but he is not out of mind. I don’t want this to come across as bashing the candidacy of people like Uncle Teddy, Kevin Towers, or Phil Nevin (Kevin Brown please!), they are very deserving. What’s jarring is that the idea of Bob Chandler, arguably the most deserving current candidate, isn’t even in the conversation of Bill Center. This blog will not rest until Bob Chandler is rightly recognized for his important and critical part of Padres history.
For an example of his amazing work covering the Padres, take some time and read his Tales From The San Diego Padres Dugout. It is a seminal work covering a wide swath of Padres history and filled with anecdotes and stories from behind the scenes.