It is hard to believe that it has been a week since we all came to understand that Mike Hardin had truly passed away. We had gone to bed the night before with limited information and had hoped to awake to learn it was all a mistake. Alas, it was not. We had lost a great one once again. There are so many wonderful stories about Bossman because that’s just the type of man he was. We just wanted to share a few of our own because we loved him and will miss him dearly.
Wayne: It was July, 2012 and my dad, Jose, was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s during his last visit to Petco Park. A friend of mine noticed that my dad’s Coke was almost empty. He told my dad he would fill it up for him, so my buddy grabbed his cup and took off to do that. He came back and called to my dad and asked if he could walk up the stairs to get the Coke because he was in a hurry to get somewhere. My dad told him to bring it down to him, so my buddy did that. I ran up the stairs to apologize for my dad’s behavior and my friend said, “I always find time to show a little kindness to everyone I meet.” Those words were spoken by my friend, Mike Hardin, the owner of Hodad’s Restaurant.
Wayne: I had never heard of the restaurant until I walked through its doors at Petco Park 3 years ago on Opening Day. All I knew was that this new place had eliminated the Baja Bistro and I wasn’t happy. Upon visiting there that day, my mind was changed, my tummy was happy, and I had met a guy with lots of tattoos, large earrings, a Mohawk, and a big smile. He was warm, friendly, and cared about the people who worked for him and those he served in the restaurant. Hodad’s became our go-to restaurant for Rebecca, Trevor, Alex, and I at Petco Park and we got to know Mike more and more as he would stand and sometimes pull up a chair and chat with us. On many occasions, Mike would walk down to section 207 where Rebecca’s seats are and sit down and visit with us, talking about his kids and his life. Mike’s parents came to California on the Freedom Train and he grew up very poor. The family started their restaurant in 1969 and worked hard to build it up. His love for burgers and good food grew and the rest is food history.
Rebecca: Much has been said about Mike over the past week and none of it surprising. He worked tirelessly in the community, truly loved and cared for his employees, gave countless hours to the military – especially the Wounded Warriors – and was a friend to everyone he met. We were truly blessed to be his friend. Each Padres season, Mike would get a suite in the Western Metal Supply Building to celebrate with his family (all who knew him!). It was our ritual to stop by and see Mike at every game – we ate there 90% of the time as well – but we always wanted to see him. He also made it a practice to take his “break” each game by coming out and sitting with us in Toyota Terrace 207. We were incredibly fortunate to be included in that celebration each year and it gave us a chance to see him simply love everyone in his life.
Rebecca: Mike got an opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a game each year … last year, he surprised his son and let him take the mound. In 2013, Mike asked that I take pictures for him – he was such a character – and one with a huge heart. At the end, he threw the ball into the stands. I asked him later why he did that — he said, “Oh, I signed the ball and wrote *Good for a free meal at Hodad’s* … it will be fun to see who comes into the restaurant with the ball!”
Rebecca: Mike was always doing for others and Wayne really wanted to give back to Mike. Wayne’s favorite question to ask is, “Who is your all-time favorite player and why?” It has been fun hearing the responses over the years … and I think Wayne should write a book about it! Anyway, when Wayne asked Bossman, he said Tim Flannery. The Giants were coming to town and Wayne was determined to get Flannery’s attention and have him sign a ball for Mike … and he did. The look on Mike’s face was priceless – he seemed truly humbled that someone had done that for him. But truly, we could never do enough for all he did for the world.
You can read the rest of Wayne’s story HERE.
Padres360: With the passing of Mike Hardin, we are asking the Padres to have a moment of silence on Opening Day in honor of this great man. Mike was to burgers what Tony Gwynn was to baseball. Both were consummate professionals who worked hard, loved their fans, gave back to the community and now, have both died too young. We believe that it would be a fitting tribute to Mike for all he did for the people he touched with his kindness.
Sincerely and with Much Love,