Last week, a good man died. He was 53. This former San Diego Policeman’s end of watch was April 23, 2020. His death was due to complications from his injuries.
Officer Dan Walters was shot on duty 17 years ago while being a cop for us. On November 12, 2003, he was paralyzed from the neck down and was wheelchair-bound until he died.
I shook hands with him once, I didn’t know him, but the whole town at one time knew him—no not the day he was shot—but when he played two years for his hometown team the San Diego Padres.
Big and burly [6-4, 225 lbs.], he got to live every boy/girl’s dream to play baseball to play ball at the highest competitive level.
Born in Brunswick Maine, he attended Santana High School in Santee.
His major league debut was June 1, 1992, in a Padres uniform. He was 25. His last game in the majors was May 23, 1993, also with the San Diego Padres. A back injury forced his retirement from baseball. His MLB stats he played 84 games, he had 5 home runs, 64 hits in 273 at-bats, with a .234 batting average and 32 rbi. During his rookie MLB rookie season, he shared catching duties with Benito Santiago and played alongside Tony Gwynn, Craig Lefferts, Gary Sheffield, Mike Maddux, Andy Benes, Bruce Hurst, Randy Myers and Fred McGriff.
Displaying heroism in coming to the aid of his on-duty partner, Walters was awarded several medals for his bravery.
Like I said I didn’t know the man. I met him once while he was on community service in North Park. He had a presence that instilled confidence. You knew from his handshake this was a policeman we could depend on when things got tough.
Someday, hopefully in heaven he’s someone this citizen would like to meet again and introduce him to my dad, a lifelong Padres fan—then give Dan a big hug. A hug from all San Diegans that he swore to serve and protect as a policeman.
Video reflects the “Attention all units” end of watch radio call that is put out to all policemen on duty after a policeman dies. Click here.
Writer Tom Shess is a former editor and founder of North Park News.
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