Outfielder Tony Gwynn passed away today at age 54, losing his battle with cancer. Known as "Mr. Padre," the Padres legend and eight-time National League batting champion will always be remembered by anyone who has watched and loved the game of baseball. His son, Tony Gwynn Jr., was placed on the Phillies bereavement list in spite of the news.
Gwynn means a lot to me for many reasons. First, my dad, who grew up in San Diego, loved Gwynn and watched him growing up. He and my grandpa loved his hustle, attitude, and were proud that a San Diego native had excelled to that level in sports, not to mention San Diego sports. My dad went to San Diego State University, where Gwynn had already became a notable alumni.
"He was a true professional. He was loyal. He appreciated what he had in San Diego. He gave everything he had all the time," my dad said about Gwynn.
Tony Gwynn was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the 1981 draft and never left the team. He spent 20 seasons with the Padres, coming up the next season in 1982 and retiring in 2001. He took the Padres to two National League Championships, while providing 15 All Star seasons and eight batting titles, while also leading the NL in hits seven times.
Over his career, Gwynn hit for a .338/.388/.459 slash line, had 3141 hits (19th all-time), and homered 135 times. Besides going to 15 All-Star Games, Gwynn collected seven Silver Sluggers, and his underrated defense netted him five Gold Gloves. He truly was the all-around, five-tool baseball player.
When he retired in 2001, Gwynn continued to be a part of baseball. He was the head baseball coach for San Diego State. In 2007, Gwynn was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, getting 532 of 545 votes, or 97.6% of the vote. His 97.6% ranks seventh all time for players voted in by the BBWAA, behind only Tom Seaver (98.84%), Nolan Ryan (98.79%), Cal Ripken Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23%), George Brett (98.19%), and Hank Aaron (97.83%).
I send my condolences to Gwynn's family and friends during this hard time. We will miss you, Tony Gwynn, and all you did for the game of baseball. We loved watching you, rooting for you, admiring you, and now, remembering you. You will be an everlasting part of the game.