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Tramel: San Diego Padres' Ted Leitner credits Oklahoma State for a great broadcasting career

Ted Leitner came to OSU in the 1960s, fresh off the bus from Yonkers, New York, with no scholarship and no real plan other than to try out for Phil Cutchin’s football team.

Leitner never made it to a practice. Instead, he made it onto the list of the 52 most influential people in San Diego sports history.

The 73-year-old Leitner announced Friday that he was retiring after 41 years as the radio voice of the Padres. In many ways, Leitner is Mr. San Diego.  

For many years, Leitner was a television sports anchor on a San Diego network affiliate and hosted a daily radio show, called Chargers and Padres games, and still is the radio voice of San Diego State football and basketball.

“Ted is a San Diego institution,” wrote Ken Levine for, a former radio booth partner of Leitner. “In a word, Ted is unique. He’s opinionated, an excellent play caller, master storyteller, warm, bombastic, insightful, sarcastic, and very funny. His play-by-play is unlike anyone I’ve ever heard and that’s probably what I love best about him.”

Old-time Oklahomans might remember Leitner as a young sports reporter for KWTV-9 in the early 1970s. Leitner, obviously talented, was a part of OU’s 1973 football radio broadcasts. Leitner got his bachelor’s degree from OSU and a master’s degree from OU before moving back East for television jobs in Hartford and Philadelphia, before landing in San Diego in 1980.

“All of this, when I look back, every single bit of it is Oklahoma State,” Leitner told my cousin, Jimmie Tramel, in a story for Posse magazine. “There’s no way this happens without Oklahoma State. You’re at the right place at the right time, and suddenly you make it.”

Leitner joined the exclusive club of landmark baseball radio announcers associated with a city. Vin Scully in Los Angeles. Jack Buck in St. Louis. Harry Kalas in Philadelphia. Ernie Harwell in Detroit. A few others.

Upon arrival in Stillwater, Leitner talked to Cutchin about trying out for the Cowboy football team and said he received permission. But instead, the campus broadcasting program lured him. Leitner became part of KOSU broadcasts his freshman season and a career was born.

And more than 50 years later, he still raved about OSU wrestling to my cousin:

“The most exciting event I have ever been to -- that I did not broadcast but I have been to -- is the Bedlam wrestling series between OU and OSU … trust me, OSU-OU wrestling, I was there for my first (college wrestling) event in 1965, and I’m looking around thinking, ‘This is unbelievably awesome.’ I loved OSU wrestling so much, and they were so good back then with (Yojiro) Uetake and (Yoshiro) Fujita after him and Fred Fozzard and all those guys. They were idols to me. I was much younger then and about 100 pounds lighter than I am now, and I just thought, of all the athletes that I ever covered or knew, the wrestlers were my heroes in terms of how they worked out and having to pull weight and their workouts alone were beyond any practice, even a (Phil) Cutchin football practice. They were simply awesome, and OSU wrestling was one of the great experiences of my life."

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Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›