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The tragedies of September 11, 2001 only reinforced just how small a world it is after all.

Many baseball fans sometimes forget players and personnel of Major League teams have ties to the armed services. We wanted to take a survey to see just how much of an impact the armed services has on a typical baseball workplace.

We figured we’d learn something new, and that sharing this information with you would reinforce to all of us - freedom-loving Americans and non-Americans - just how thankful we are for the dutiful service and the freedoms armed forces personnel protect.

Our survey participant was the San Diego Padres, and boy did we learn some interesting things. From the owner to the "Pad Squad," and from the training room to the accounting office, the swinging Friars have plenty of military ties - from ties to active military personnel to those that were killed in action.

And the ties start at the top.

The father of Padres owner John Moores was enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in World War II.

“A little aside on this connection is that John's father got a demo ride with the Blues Angels when he was in the Navy and in 1997 John himself got a demo ride with the Blues before NAS Miramar's last Air Show as a Navy base,” commented Jack Ensch, a retired member of the armed services and the team’s director of military marketing, who was a captain in the U.S. Navy.

Besides Moores, 16 other members of the Padres staff saw their Dad’s serve the armed services, including Priscilla Oppenheimer’s father, who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The father of Oppenheimer, the Padres director of minor league operations, was killed in action as was Diane Gerstel’s father-in-law, who served in the U.S. Navy. Gerstel is an administrative assistant for the Padres stadium operations.

Many Padre fans are aware of the service of Trevor Hoffman’s father, who was a member of the U.S. Marine Core, but they may not know that there are many others whose father’s served our country. Angela Mullins father was a captain in the U.S. Marine Core. Mullins is the Padres assistant director of ballpark planning.

From the Padres offices to the broadcast booth, the ties are everywhere. Long-time Padres broadcaster Bob Chandler’s father was a captain in the U.S. Navy while Will Berry’s father served as a Colonel in the armed services. Berry, a Padres ticket sales representative, has two other military ties. Both his paternal and maternal grandfather served in the armed forces.

Other father ties: Manager Bruce Bochy; Sue Botos, director of the Padres Foundation for Children; Tom Catlin, director of video production; Michelle Champine, stadium Padres store manager; Bill Henry, Major League strength and conditioning coordinator/assistant trainer; Darin Kimoto, event manager, stadium operations; Leigh Anne Miller, sales associate and spring training coordinator; Michelle Parayno, accountant; Chase Peckman, video administrator; and Brian Prilaman, director, team travel/equipment.

Additional grandfather ties: Champine’s and Kimoto’s grandfather, and the grandfather of Raymond Padilla, the Padres home team clubhouse assistant.

Many Padre fans that are members of the military are well aware of the service of Ensch and broadcaster Jerry Coleman, who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Core. But these aren’t the only ties. A total of 13 staff members, or those affiliated with the team, have personnel ties. These include broadcaster Ted Leitner, Stadium Operation Project Manager Jack Autry, Pad Squad member Dennis Jones, Telecommunications Advisor Hector Ortega and Carlos Martinez, the Padres manager of hispanic and international marketing.

Scoreboard Coordinator Joe Flake was a first Lieutenant as was Geoff Will, who works in Baseball Operations. Frank Perkins, the Padres Warehouse and Internet Sales Manager, was a Staff Sergeant. Of the 14 with personnel ties, five remain active, including Compadres associate Matthew Crumb, Pad Squad members Debi Gautreaux and Danny Lawrence, Stadium Padres Store Sales Associate Stephanie Lee, and Michelle Vasquez, assistant to the director of military marketing.

The Padres have one husband and sister tie to the armed services. Sherry Atkinson’s husband served in the U.S. Marine Core while her sister is currently active in the U.S. Coast Guard. Atkinson is the Padres coordinator for workman’s comp/payroll.

As this survey indicates, the military’s ties run deep with a typical organization. And as the son whose father served in the U.S. Air Force, I, too, am thankful and grateful for the armed services. We shall never take this freedom for granted that you so help protect.

Special thanks to Michelle Vasquez and J. C. "Jack" Ensch, Captain, USN (Ret.,), for their help with this story.

Joe Connor is the founder of

Copyright 2002