SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KTSM) – The San Diego Padres are ‘El Paso Strong’ all the way in Southern California. Players and coaches of the El Paso Chihuahuas’ parent club wore black El Paso hats during batting practice on Thursday, many of them former Chihuahuas themselves.
The Padres will autograph the hats and send them back to El Paso to be auctioned off. The proceeds will go to the El Paso Victims’ Relief Fund, established to aid those who were impacted by Saturday’s mass shooting at a nearby Walmart. The shooting killed 22 people.
“I’m so sad with what happened,” said Padres outfielder Josh Naylor, who played for the Chihuahuas earlier this season. “I am continuing to pray for those who lost someone. The El Paso community is incredible. Everyone is together and strong.”
“It’s terrible. It’s sad,” said Padres pitcher Cal Quantrill, who also played for the Chihuahuas in 2019. “It’s a wonderful community. I think it’s a safe community and I enjoyed my time there.”
A total of 57 players have gone on to make their Major League debut in San Diego after playing in El Paso. It is safe to say the Padres and the Chihuahuas have a special bond.
“It’s a special community,” said Padres bench coach Rod Barajas. Barajas managed the Chihuahuas from 2016-2018. “Not just the baseball part of it. I played there in 1999, moved back there for three years when I was managing down there and it was a community that welcomed us with open arms.”
“They are arguably the best Triple-A experience there is when it comes to the fans, the stadium, all of that stuff,” said Padres pitcher Trey Wingenter. Wingenter played in El Paso in 2018 and 2019. “They accept you right away.”
With so many players on the Padres’ roster who have spent significant time in El Paso, there has been legitimate concern for the El Paso community. But they all know it is a community that cannot be broken.
“It’s a really strong community and I know they are going to come back from this better than ever,” said Quantrill. “We are going to do anything we can to make that transition easier.”