SAN DIEGO -- John Moores was instrumental in the construction of Petco Park. Jake Peavy was the first starting pitcher to truly dominate in it.
On Friday night, they assumed their rightful places in that downtown San Diego ballpark: In the Padres Hall of Fame.
In a pregame ceremony prior to the Padres' series opener against the Rangers, Peavy and Moores were formally inducted into the team's Hall of Fame, the 18th and 19th members of the storied club.
“I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart that the day I showed up as a small-town Alabama boy to San Diego, you loved me,” an emotional Peavy told the Petco Park crowd. “My family, my support system, I couldn’t have a better one. … To you fans, it was an honor to put a uniform on and play for you as a San Diego Padre, the honor of a lifetime. Like a dream.”
Said Moores, the team’s longtime owner: “I’m really back home, at Petco Park. It’s impossible to describe the emotion right now that I have, being in this ballpark. … It’s really special.”
Fittingly, Bruce Bochy's Rangers were in town for the occasion. The longtime Padres skipper and winningest manager in franchise history managed Peavy at two stops -- in San Diego, then in San Francisco, where the two won a World Series together.
“I still remember this young kid coming up and pitching his first game against the Yankees,” Bochy said. “What a terrific job he did. Just the way he handled himself, I knew we had somebody special at that time. He had a great Cy Young year and a great career here.”
Bochy also worked with Moores, who owned the team from 1994-2012. During Moores’ tenure, the Padres won four NL West titles and the '98 pennant -- all under Bochy.
"My first year, John bought this club,” Bochy said. “He had the confidence in me to be the manager of his club, and I'm forever grateful for that. He didn't know me, but he ended up trusting me for a lot of years. Like I said, I'll never forget it, and I had some great times there. We won some divisions, got to the World Series. We didn't quite get what we wanted, but John did all he could to help us get there.”
The induction ceremony took place prior to first pitch, with both Peavy and Moores introduced by chairman Peter Seidler, then addressing an expected sellout crowd at Petco Park. Dozens of former teammates and Padres staffers were on hand for the ceremony, including a number of the team’s current team Hall of Famers, among them Dave Winfield and Trevor Hoffman.
Peavy, of course, ranks as arguably the greatest starting pitcher in franchise history. He remains the Padres’ all-time strikeouts leader, and across his eight seasons with San Diego, he reached two All-Star Games and won two ERA titles. Peavy won the 2007 National League Cy Young Award and the pitching Triple Crown.
“One of the great competitors,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin, who went head-to-head often with Peavy as manager of the D-backs in the ‘00s. “As you sit here now, it was great to compete against him. When you had to on that particular day, it was no fun.”
Moores served as club owner for the entirety of Peavy’s tenure. Perhaps most important, Moores played a leading role in the construction of Petco Park and redeveloping the surrounding neighborhood. Moores was asked for his reaction to returning to a ballpark that has been sold out on a near-nightly basis this season.
“Well, crazy jealousy for one thing,” Moores quipped.
Of course, Moores’ contributions to the development of Petco Park are a major reason for the current state of affairs.
Outside of baseball, Moores was hugely engaged philanthropically across the city, including his launching of the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health.
“It’s an absolute honor,” Peavy would later say, “to go in alongside John Moores – and what he means to this community.”