Monday, June 16, 2014

In Memoriam: Tony Gwynn

Today we have learned of the passing of Tony Gwynn at the age of 54.  He lost his battle with cancer in which he believed was due to many years of using chewing tobacco.
1983 Fleer rookie card

Gwynn was one of the greatest hitters ever to play the game.  The San Diego Padre legend won a total of eight batting titles, accumulated over 3,000 career hits, won five Gold Glove awards and made 15 All Star teams in twenty big league seasons.
If you look deeper into his career stats, you will see how great of hitter Tony Gwynn was.  His career .338 batting average is highest by anyone since Ted Williams.  He just did not feast on the weaker pitchers, he hit everyone.  Gwynn had a career average of .381 against Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz combined.
From 1993-1997, he finished the season with an average of at least .350 including .394 for the strike shortened 1994 season.  Gwynn rarely struck out too. From 1991-96, he never fanned more than 20 times for an entire season.  And for his career, Gwynn only struck out 434 times in career in over 10,000 plate appearances.  He is only a handful of players to hit over a 500 doubles and strike out less than 500 times.
All this did not come naturally.  He was a tireless worker and one of the first, if not the first to use video to study his swing and do homework on opposing pitchers.

As much as Gwynn was a great hitter, he was an even better person.  He always had a smile on face and able spend time with everyone including teammates, fans and children.  Gwynn was loyal to San Diego and wanted dearly to bring a winner to the city.  He was never able to win a World Series, but did play on two pennant winners.
After his Hall of Fame playing career, Gwynn did not live off his laurels.  He wanted stay in the game and give back to it.  He became the head coach of his alma mater, San Diego St, in 2002 and was the coach until his passing.
Gwynn will be sorely missed as an ambassador to the game and as a teacher.  RIP Mr. Padre. 

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