Saturday, December 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Tony Gwynn, sweet-swinging ‘Mr. Padre,’ dies at 54

Tony Gwynn

FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2001 file photo, San Diego Padres' Tony Gwynn fights back tears as he acknowledges the standing ovation prior to the Padres' game against the Colorado Rockies, the final game of his career, in San Diego. The Baseball Hall of Fame said Gwynn died of cancer on Monday, June 16, 2014. He was 54. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, File)

By
June 18, 2014 |

SAN DIEGO — Tony Gwynn could handle a bat like few other major leaguers, whether it was driving the ball through the “5.5 hole” between third base and shortstop or hitting a home run off the facade in Yankee Stadium in the World Series.

He was a craftsman at the plate, whose sweet left-handed swing made him one of baseball’s greatest hitters.

Gwynn loved San Diego.

San Diego loved “Mr. Padre” right back.

Gwynn, a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest athletes in San Diego’s history, died Monday of oral cancer, a disease he attributed to years of chewing tobacco. He was 54.

“Our city is a little darker today without him but immeasurably better because of him,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in a statement.

In a rarity in pro sports, Gwynn played his whole career with the Padres, choosing to stay in the city where he was a two-sport star in college, rather than leaving for bigger paychecks elsewhere. His terrific hand-eye coordination made him one of the game’s greatest pure hitters. He had 3,141 hits — 18th on the all-time list — a career .338 average and won eight batting titles to tie Honus Wagner’s NL record.

He struck out only 434 times in 9,288 career at-bats. He played in San Diego’s only two World Series — batting a combined .371 — and was a 15-time All-Star. He had a memorable home run in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series off fellow San Diegan David Wells, and scored the winning run in the 1994 All-Star Game despite a bum knee.

Gwynn never hit below .309 in a full season. He spread out his batting titles from 1984, when he batted .351, to 1997, when he hit .372.

Gwynn was hitting .394 when a players’ strike ended the 1994 season, denying him a shot at becoming the first player to hit .400 since San Diego native Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.

Gwynn befriended Williams and the two loved to talk about hitting. Gwynn steadied Williams when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the 1999 All-Star Game at Boston’s Fenway Park.

Fellow Hall of Famer Greg Maddux tweeted, “Tony Gwynn was the best pure hitter I ever faced! Condolences to his family.”

Gwynn was known for his hearty laugh and warm personality. Every day at 4 p.m., Gwynn sat in the Padres’ dugout and talked baseball or anything else with the media.

Tim Flannery, who was teammates with Gwynn on the Padres’ 1984 World Series team and later was on San Diego’s coaching staff, said he’ll “remember the cackle to his laugh. He was always laughing, always talking, always happy.”

“The baseball world is going to miss one of the greats, and the world itself is going to miss one of the great men of mankind,” said Flannery, the San Francisco Giants’ third base coach. “He cared so much for other people. He had a work ethic unlike anybody else, and had a childlike demeanor of playing the game just because he loved it so much.”

Gwynn had been on a medical leave since late March from his job as baseball coach at San Diego State, his alma mater. He died at a hospital in suburban Poway, agent John Boggs said.

“He was in a tough battle and the thing I can critique is he’s definitely in a better place,” Boggs said. “He suffered a lot. He battled. That’s probably the best way I can describe his fight against this illness he had, and he was courageous until the end.”

Gwynn’s wife, Alicia, and other family members were at his side when he died, Boggs said.

Gwynn’s son, Tony Jr., was with the Philadelphia Phillies, who later placed him on the bereavement list.

“Today I lost my Dad, my best friend and my mentor,” Gwynn Jr. tweeted. “I’m gonna miss u so much pops. I’m gonna do everything in my power to continue to … Make u proud!”

Gwynn had two operations for cancer in his right cheek between August 2010 and February 2012. The second surgery was complicated, with surgeons removing a facial nerve because it was intertwined with a tumor inside his right cheek. They grafted a nerve from Gwynn’s neck to help him eventually regain facial movement.

Gwynn had been in and out of the hospital and had spent time in a rehab facility, Boggs said.

“For more than 30 years, Tony Gwynn was a source of universal goodwill in the national pastime, and he will be deeply missed by the many people he touched,” Commissioner Bud Selig said.

Fans paid their respects by visiting the statue of Gwynn on a grassy knoll just beyond the outfield at Petco Park.

Gwynn was last with his San Diego State team on March 25 before beginning a leave of absence. His Aztecs rallied around a Gwynn bobblehead doll they would set near the bat rack during games, winning the Mountain West Conference tournament and advancing to the NCAA regionals.

Last week, SDSU announced it was extending Gwynn’s contract one season. The Aztecs play at Tony Gwynn Stadium, which was built in the mid-1990s with a $4 million donation by then-Padres owner John Moores.

Gwynn was born in Los Angeles on May 9, 1960, and attended high school in Long Beach.

He was a two-sport star at San Diego State in the late 1970s and early 1980s, playing point guard for the basketball team — he still holds the game, season and career record for assists — and in the outfield on the baseball team.

Gwynn always wanted to play in the NBA, until realizing during his final year at San Diego State that baseball would be the ticket to the pros.

He was drafted by both the Padres (third round) and San Diego Clippers (10th round) on the same day in 1981.

After spending parts of just two seasons in the minor leagues, he made his big league debut on July 19, 1982.Gwynn had two hits that night. After Gwynn hit a double, all-time hits leader Pete Rose, who been trailing the play, said to him: “Hey, kid, what are you trying to do, catch me in one night?”

In a career full of highlights, Gwynn had his 3,000th hit on Aug. 9, 1999, a first-inning single to right field at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

Gwynn retired after the 2001 season and became a volunteer assistant coach at SDSU in 2002. He took over as head coach after that season.

He and Cal Ripken Jr. — who spent his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles — were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

“I had no idea that all the things in my career were going to happen,” Gwynn said shortly before being inducted. “I sure didn’t see it. I just know the good Lord blessed me with ability, blessed me with good eyesight and a good pair of hands, and then I worked at the rest.”

Gwynn also is survived by a daughter, Anisha.

Boggs said services were pending.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • BaseballmomJune 17, 2014 - 8:51 am

    Not many like him around anymore... Stayed in SD when he could have gotten more $$$$ elsewhere..... May he rest in peace.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Creche collection grows in size, popularity

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Handmade Christmas display is man’s labor of love

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
     
     
    Company competition a big win for charity

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Meeting a great role model at any age

    By Murray Bass | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

    Fairfield police log: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

     
    Suisun City police log: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

    Weather for Dec. 20, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

     
    .

    US / World

     
    Wetter than usual start to new year in California predicted

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Hospital to pay $2.2M to settle false claims

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Napolitano named as UC public policy professor

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Man shocked 20 times during jail booking sues

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 5 Comments

     
    Notorious California graffiti suspect arrested

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

    Island park in San Francisco Bay closed for weekend

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    California’s bullet train settles 1 of 7 lawsuits

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    Tuskegee Airman Lowell Steward dies in California at 95

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Animal rights activists take California rodeo to court

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Bush officials gave CIA wide latitude

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Theater shooter’s parents plead for his life

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Driver pleads not guilty in pedestrian deaths

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

     
    5 ways to make your email safer in case of a hack attack

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Celebrities react to latest Sony hack developments

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Sony on shelving ‘The Interview': ‘We had no choice’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Obama says North Korea hacked Sony, vows response

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 5 Comments

    AP Interview: Coelho says Sony hack threatens all

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Jury rules for Indiana woman in firing over IVF

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Bergdahl investigation wraps up; top leaders get briefings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Texas eatery worker gets mink coat from customer

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Sugarland, promoter settle with state fair victims

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    NY police officer suspended after videotaped punch

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Prepackaged caramel apples linked to 4 deaths

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Supreme Court won’t stop gay marriages in Florida

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Staples: Customer data exposed in security breach

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Lava could reach Hawaii shopping center in 8 days

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Israel carries out airstrike on Hamas site in Gaza

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    Pakistan executes militants and bombards tribal areas

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Franciscan religious order in ‘grave’ financial crisis

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    Australian woman arrested in deaths of 8 children

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    .

    Opinion

    Yes, Virginia, the Santa wish list has gone digital

    By Petula Dvorak | From Page: A8

     
    Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 20, 2014

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    If you want to help the poor, fix the safety net

    By Jim Tankersley | From Page: A8

    .

    Living

    Community Calendar: Dec. 20, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Today in History: Dec. 20, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Pampered pets that don duds move to the mainstream

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Horoscopes: Dec. 20, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B11

    Children from wife’s first marriage put father’s ashes in coffin

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B11

     
    .

    Entertainment

    More than 4 million people watched 1st dog telethon

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Kim Jong Un game spoof ‘Glorious Leader!’ moving forward

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Marathon bombing survivor in ‘Yes to Dress’ finale

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Kid Rock to perform pre-race concert at Daytona 500

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Actor Stephen Collins denies he’s a pedophile in interview

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Sports

    Dodge, Vaca grad Mason lead Southern Oregon to NAIA title

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Raiders haven’t needed much from Janikowski

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    AP sources: Peavy agrees on $24M, 2-year deal with Giants

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    FIFA will not reopen 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Howe’s family reports rapid improvement

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    2 Armstrong associates settle lawsuit with Landis

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Rays, Padres, Nats complete 11-player trade involving Myers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Vanden girls open Nike TOC with win on Arizona

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

     
    Things to know about Friday’s baseball news

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Rookie receivers making their mark in NFL

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Former boxing champ Ernie Terrell dies at 75

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Gold medalist Phelps pleads guilty to DUI, avoids jail time

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Dodgers end Yanks’ payroll streak, owe most tax

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    CIF football bowl games headed to Sacramento

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

     
    Cal men beat Eastern Washington 78-67 for seventh straight win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    This date in sports history for Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    .

    Business

    California unemployment rate dips to 7.2 percent

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    Chrysler gives in to gov’t, expands air bag recall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    T-Mobile paying at least $90M for unwanted services

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    EPA sets first national standard for coal waste

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Sales for holiday shopping season comes down to the wire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Judy Zamora Rogers

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

     
    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

     
    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

     
    .

    Home Seller 12/20/14

    Real estate transactions for Dec. 20, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

    Ask a Designer: decorating with Christmas trees

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2