Today, the MLB world lost a true legend in every sense of the word. San Diego Padres great Tony Gwynn lost his battle with salivary gland cancer at the age of 54. He leaves behind a wife and two children and a legacy no one can duplicate.
July 19, 1982, a 22-year-old from San Diego was drafted by the Padres in the third round. Not long after that Mr. Padre was born…
In 20 big league seasons, Gwynn accumulated five Gold Glove awards, 15 All-Star appearances, grabbed eight National League batting titles and won seven Silver Slugger awards. Needless to say, his accomplishments could round the bases several times on their own. Gwynn was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
He is the only Major Leaguer to win four batting titles in two separate decades and hit above .350 for five consecutive years.
Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux told Sportingnews.com in 2008, Gwynn was “the best pure hitter in the game. Easily.”
He stayed with one team throughout his career, the San Diego Padres, not many athletes can say that. Gwynn spoke to that when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (via Baseball Almanac).
One of the things I’m proudest about is that I played for one team. My baseball card looks awesome because it has San Diego all the way down. I grew up in an environment where that kind of stuff was important.
There has yet to be a baseball player in the history of the National League that has won more batting titles (eight) in the senior circuit than Tony Gwynn, according to Baseball Almanac.
Tony Gwynn Jr, Gwynn’s son also sported the San Diego Padres’ jersey in 2009 when he was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers. He wore number 18 on his back. The number 19 jersey had been retired by his father.
The San Diego Padres had a statue made in Gwynn’s honor. It stands next to Petco Park. On the back of the statue is a quote from the Hall of Famer.
If you work hard, good things will happen.
One of baseball’s greatest hitters will be remembered for his accomplishments on the field as well as his spirit off of it.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Padre.
Photo: courtesy of 90FeetOfPerfection.com