On this date in MLB history (1974), a well established fast-food entrepreneur (McDonald’s franchise owner) bought the San Diego Padres for a mere $12M – equivalent to about $63.4M today. His name was Ray Kroc. Kroc had just retired from the fast-food industry when he learned the Padres were up for grabs.
Since their inception in 1969, the Padres first five seasons netted a win-loss record of just 294-506 (a .368 winning percentage); quite a bit different than the most recent Padres season and they’re only getting stronger. Most of Kroc’s years in San Diego weren’t much different, as the team’s best record through the first five years of Kroc’s ownership was the 1978 season, when the Friars went 84-76, finishing in fourth place (out of six).
After winning 89 games in 1980, the Padres never crossed the .500 mark until 1984, when they made it to the World Series. Ironically, Ray Kroc would never see it though, as he died on January 14, 1984. In that World Series, the Padres would lose 4-1 to the Detroit Tigers. That season, the Friars would don a patch on their uniforms reading “RAK”, for Raymond Albert Kroc. In 1999, Kroc would be inducted into the Padres’ Hall of fame.
MLB History: Kroc’s Life and Death
Kroc was born in Oak Park, Illinois on October 5, 1902. After buying the first-ever McDonald’s franchise in 1955, he helped the restaurant to expand to what it’s become today.
Prior to that, Kroc proudly served in World Wars I and II as an ambulance driver. Kroc had lied about his age (he was just 15) to enlist as a Red Cross ambulance driver in the First World War, where he unknowingly served alongside another future man of fame, Walt Disney.
Life wasn’t always rosy for Ray Kroc. During his life, he suffered from not only diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis, but he was also a hardcore alcoholic. Following a stroke in 1980, Kroc entered a rehab facility for his drinking issues. Ultimately, it would be heart failure that caused his demise in 1984.
MLB History: The McDonald’s Massacre
At one time, Ray Kroc owned the McDonald’s in San Ysidro, a neighborhood located in San Diego. The restaurant was the site of a massacre on February 18, 1984 – just six months after Kroc’s passing. A lone gunman would kill 21 people while injuring 19 others in a standoff that lasted longer than an hour; the youngest fatality was just four-months-old. The gunman, later identified as 41-year-old James Huberty, would finally be shot to death by a SWAT team member, ending the standoff.
Following the standoff, McDonald’s tore the restaurant down, erected a monument for the victims, and it has since been decorated annually with flowers.
Despite the infamy of the massacre, Ray Kroc will forever hold his place in MLB history.
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