Tony Gwynn meant a lot to me growing up, as he likely did to just about anyone who got the chance to appreciate his greatness. With his passing, we'll get the chance to reflect on both the man and the player -- you cannot say enough about either, as they were both tremendous.
I don't know how you grieve, and I'm not about to tell you how to, but I'm going to spend at least some of my mourning watching old Gwynn highlights where I can find them. MLB's YouTube page thankfully has some Gwynn, despite most of his career coming in a pre-YouTube era. Come appreciate Tony Gwynn with me by watching what made him so enjoyable during his career.
Gwynn records career hit 1,000, 1988
When you collect over 3,100 hits in your career, you're going to see a few bloops. They all counts the same in the record books, though.
Gwynn records career hit 2,000, 1993
This understandably received more fanfare than the previous milestone, with the Padres setting off roughly one firework for each hit Gwynn had managed in his 11-year career.
Gwynn's first playoff homer, 1998
Tony Gwynn appeared in two World Series, in 1984 and 1998. His Padres did not win either, falling to the powerhouse Tigers and then arguably the single greatest team ever, the '98 Yankees. He did manage to bash his first and only postseason homer against David Wells in Game 1 of that second World Series, though, which would also end up being his final postseason series.
The Padres didn't lose because of Gwynn, that much is for sure. He batted .500/.529/.688 in that four-game set against the Bronx Bombers, and did so after batting .321/.364/.501 as a 38-year-old in his 17th big-league season.
Gwynn records career hit 3,000, 1999
It just seemed like he always knew where the hole was going to be, didn't it?
Gwynn's final All-Star appearance, 2001
If you have 2.5 hours to burn today, you can watch the entire 2001 All-Star Game at Safeco Field. It's the final All-Star appearance for Cal Ripken, and Commissioner Bud Selig awarded both Ripken and Tony Gwynn, who was also retiring at season's end, with the Commissioners' Historic Achievement Award.
Gwynn didn't make the squad even though he made an appearance in Seattle, as he only played in 107 games over his final two seasons. He still had it at the plate, though, as he batted .323/.373/.450 over that time period, at ages 40 and 41. He did make 15 All-Star teams in his total career as well, earning his way to the squad each summer from 1984 through 1999. He didn't get to play in his final official All-Star Game, though, which means the above video somehow has more Gwynn in it.
Gwynn's Hall of Fame acceptance speech, 2007
"An artisan with the bat" certainly belongs on Gwynn's Cooperstown plaque. His acceptance speech is worth your time, especially if you want to learn about what Tony believes made Tony great.