Hall of Fame Padres outfielder and broadcaster Tony Gwynn passed away on Monday morning, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Both the Padres and Major League Baseball confirmed the tragic news. Gwynn was just 54 years old.
Tony Gwynn was diagnosed with cancer in a salivary gland back in 2010, and underwent multiple surgeries to attempt to remove it. His condition worsened this spring, though, and in March Gwynn took a leave of absence from San Diego State University, where he has served as the team's coach for over a decade, in order to focus on his health.
Gwynn spent his entire 20-year career with the San Diego Padres, debuting in 1982 and playing his final game in 2001 at 41 years old. He did nothing but hit the entire time, batting .338/.388/.459 for his career and managing a similar looking .324/.384/.461 in his final season. Gwynn currently ranks 19th on the all-time hit list with 3,141, and his number 19 was retired by his Padres in 2004, three years before he was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame after receiving votes on 98 percent of ballots -- considering the BBWAA's oddities on this sort of thing, that's about as close to a unanimous decision as can be had by anyone.
A Unique Player
A Unique Player
Gwynn was much more than just a guy who could hit for average, both on and off of the field, but it's the thing he's most known for. He never batted below .309 in any of his 20 seasons in the majors, and he ranks ninth in MLB history in career batting average at .338, minimum 8,000 plate appearances, alongside the likes of Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Babe Ruth. When the strike ended the 1994 season, Gwynn was batting .394 -- he was the most, and possibly last, realistic candidate to hit .400 in a season since Williams himself managed the feat in 1941.
Before dedicating his life to baseball, Gwynn attended SDSU, where he also played basketball and was twice an all-conference Second Team player. His son, Tony Gwynn Jr., currently plays for the Philadelphia Phillies. Gwynn Sr. coached Jr. at SDSU in 2003, before he was drafted by the Brewers, and the two both collected their first big-league hit on July 19, 24 years apart.