Ted Leitner, the long-time radio voice of the San Diego Padres, plans to exit the booth, the team announced Friday – but he’s not leaving the team.

The Padres plan to employ Leitner in the community, or as MLB.com called it, as a “team ambassador.”

Leitner’s partner Jesse Agler steps up to the top spot on the team’s game 2021 broadcasts, according to MLB’s report. Tony Gwynn Jr. will serve as analyst.

Leitner, an old hand in the San Diego media, began his tenure in the Padres booth in 1980.

“I will miss everything about the Padres broadcast that I have been privileged to be a part of for so many years,” Leitner said in a statement shared by MLB. “I’ve had the best seat in the house in San Diego for over four decades, and I’ve had the honor of working alongside Hall of Fame broadcasters while watching the greatest players to ever wear a Padres uniform.”

Last February, Leitner told the La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club that he was going blind and “I just don’t know when. … I don’t know how many years I have.”

He revealed that in early April 2018 — during Padres spring training — he learned that he had glaucoma.

The diagnosis by Dr. Robert Weinreb of UC San Diego’s Shiley Eye Institute came two months before he was declared cancer-free in another health crisis — when he had a kidney removed over fear that a large tumor was likely cancerous. It was benign.

Leitner described an eye scare while calling an SDSU-Arizona State basketball game in Tempe, Arizona, on Nov. 14, 2017, when he experienced pain in his right eye amid the bright lights of Wells Fargo Arena.

“I’ll share with you what I’ve never shared with anybody here in the city,” he said. “It hurt so much during the event that I had to close my right eye and broadcast the game with one eye.”

In a video posted on KFWN-FM radio’s Twitter account, Leitner gave a variety of reasons for leaving, including missing time with his grandchildren. He didn’t mention glaucoma but alluded to health “and other issues.”

The former sportscaster for CBS 8 for years worked with the late and beloved broadcaster Jerry Coleman on Padre games.

Coleman thanked Leitner in his hall of Fame speech, calling him “one of the best broadcasters you’ve never heard. He’s great.”

Agler saluted Leitner on Twitter, posting, “What you hear is what you get: a true passion and love for the game, the team, the community. His story-telling skills are as good as anyone that’s ever done this.”

Leitner shared the 2020 Sportscaster of the Year award for California from the National Sports Media Association. He will continue to offer play-by-play for San Diego State football and basketball games.

Updated at 3:12 p.m. Jan. 15, 2021

– Staff reports

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