Three years ago today, the Major League Baseball community lost a great man.
The iconic face and heart of the San Diego Padres‘ franchise lost his battle with cancer. The immortal Tony Gwynn will always be known as one of the best hitters in the game, but his accolades accomplished on the ball field were nothing compared to the man he truly was.
Some people just carry this aura about them. They just float on by and you can just sense the greatest that they have. Gwynn most certainly exuded that with all his body language. Not to say he was cocky or arrogant, because that couldn’t be farther from the truth. He did have confidence, and to succeed in baseball you must most certainly have that. Gwynn knew the craft of baseball and was willing to talk to anyone about the art of hitting.
He studied his swing like no other player had done before. He was the absolute first to utilize film of his swing. Gwynn built and funded a video room (a tiny room behind his locker) at Jack Murphy Stadium. That room was used to record all his at bats, and the teams at bats for the season. Gwynn used these video references to fine tune his swing. That is now standard practice for most Major League ballplayers in modern baseball. Tony Gwynn spent in excess of $100,000 for that room and it’s monitors, video machines, and editing machines. That type of commitment to getting better, teamed with his state of the art thought process, produced one of the greatest hitters of major league history.
All who have interacted with him speak of how gracious the man was. I had the opportunity to meet and speak to him on many occasions. He actually remembered me by name on our last meeting and we shared a couple of great conversations. In my estimation he saw how much I loved the game and was more than willing to share some of his time with me. We talked about why batters strike out so much today. Also, about his times with Ted Williams. He had passion in all he spoke about, and I will always remember his smile.
The man was something very special to the city of San Diego. He will always be known as Mr. Padre and that title could never even be bestowed on another. He loved the game of baseball, the San Diego Padres, and the City of San Diego. His loss still saddens me to this very day.
Tony Gwynn was a great hitter. He understood his limitations and he knew how to play the game the correct way. The fact Gwynn spent his entire career as a Padre speaks of the type of character he possessed. Tony Gwynn could have easily gone to play for another team for more money, but was loyal to the city and the team. For that, the fans of the Padres will forever be in debt to him.
The statistics Gwynn put up in a Padre’ uniform will likely never be matched. In this day of modern free agency, a player is likely to perform for different franchises, rather than just one. The days of Tony Gwynn-type players are probably long gone.
On this three-year anniversary of his loss, please take time to pause and think about a special thought or moment about Tony. I am positive that we all have many great memories of him and what he meant to the city of San Diego. The man will always be remembered, and we here at East Village Times pay our respect to the man, the myth, the legend, Anthony Keith Gwynn.
- 15× All-Star (1984–1987, 1989–1999)
- 5× Gold Glove Award (1986–1987, 1989–1991)
- 7× Silver Slugger Award (1984, 1986–1987, 1989, 1994–1995, 1997)
- Roberto Clemente Award (1999)
- 8× NL batting champion (1984, 1987–1989, 1994–1997)
- San Diego Padres No. 19 retired
Highest batting average, career.338
Highest batting average, season.394 (1994)
Highest on-base percentage, season.454 (1994)
Most games played, career 2,440
Most at bats, career 9,288
Most plate appearances, career 10,232
Most runs scored, career 1,383
Most hits, career 3,141
Most hits, season 220 (1997)
Most total bases, career 4,259
Most doubles, career 543
Most doubles, season 49 (1997)
Most triples, career 85
Most triples, season 13 (1987)
Most runs batted in, career 1,138
Most walks, career 790
Most stolen bases, career 319