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Tony Gwynn

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This page leads to Tony Gwynn, the Hall of Fame outfielder with the San Diego Padres; for his son who made his Major League debut in 2006, click here

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Anthony Keith Gwynn
(Mr. Padre)

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2007.

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[edit] Biographical Information

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Tony Gwynn was easily one of baseball's best pure hitters of all time. He played 20 years in the majors, all with the San Diego Padres, with a lifetime .338 batting average and 3,141 hits. A continual .300-plus batsman, he was especially difficult to strike out and once hit an incredible .394 in a season.

Gwynn was signed by the Padres and scout Cliff Ditto as the third round pick of the 1981 amateur draft and made hit pro debut that summer. He split the year between the Walla Walla Padres, with whom he hit .331 to win the Northwest League batting crown and MVP award, and the Amarillo Gold Sox, where he hit .462 in 23 games. He hit .328 for the Hawaii Islanders in 1982 and made his big league debut with the Padres in July. He hit .289 in 54 games that year; it would be the only season in which he failed to hit .300 in the majors! After beginning 1983 on the disabled list, he hit .342 in 17 games with the Las Vegas Stars before returning to the majors for good in June. His .309 average in 82 big league games that season turned out to be the second lowest of his career, tied with the 1990 season. In his 20 years, he never had an OPS+ below 100, with the 105 he achieved in 1983 being his lowest ever.

Gwynn led the National League in batting eight times, and came close to hitting .400 in 1994 when he hit .394. He was named to 15 All-Star Games, won five Gold Gloves for his fielding prowess, and stole 319 bases. He was no mere singles hitter, however: he hit a lot of doubles and triples, with highs of 49 doubles in 1997 and 13 triples in 1987. He also drew a lot of walks and was a very good baserunner, leading the National League in runs scored in 1986 and stealing as many as 56 bases in a season (in 1987). He is the only player to have been a member of both Padres teams that played in the World Series, in 1984 and 1998 and he started all 9 games the Padres have played in the Fall Classic. He hit .500 (8 for 16) with a homer and 3 RBIs when the Padres were swept at the hands of the New York Yankees in the 1998 Series.

He never won the MVP award, but was in the top 10 seven times, and came as close as 3rd in 1984 when his team went to the 1984 World Series. He ranks # 18 of all time on the Black Ink test of assessing player performance and # 13 on the Hall of Fame Monitor test.

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His brother Chris Gwynn, picked in the first round (the 10th overall pick) in the 1985 amateur draft, played ten years in the majors. His son Tony, whom Tony coached in college, was a 2nd-round draft pick and collected his first Major League hit in 2006 for the Milwaukee Brewers, 24 years to the day after Tony's first hit, July 19, 1982. Both were doubles to right field.

On January 9, 2007 Gwynn was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He received 532 of 545 possible votes. He was inducted with Cal Ripken in July of that year.

An outstanding basketball player in college, Gwynn is the all-time assists leader at San Diego State University (as of 2010) and was also drafted by the San Diego Clippers of the NBA the day after being selected by the Padres. After retiring, he became head coach of the San Diego State baseball program and a part-time television analyst for ESPN's baseball broadcasts. As head coach at San Diego State, he succeeded his college coach, Jim Dietz. Stephen Strasburg was one of his players at San Diego State.

In his retirement, Gwynn battled oral cancer, twice having malignant tumors surgically removed, in 2010 and 2012. He attributed the cause of the disease to his use of smokeless tobacco during his career and afterwards, finally quitting the habit after 30 years when the health problems surfaced. He was unable to beat the disease, however, as he passed away from salivary gland cancer in 2014 at the age of 54. His death was mourned throughout baseball, with Commissioner Bud Selig underlining his on-field accomplishments as well as his exuberant personality and his off-field work with children. He was honored across major league baseball with a minute of silence on the day he died and prior to their first game back in San Diego on June 18th, the Padres paid him tribute by lining up around his number 19 etched in the outfield grass. They also etched a figure in the shape of home plate with his number which they wore on their caps.

"The only way to pitch to Tony is throw the ball down the middle and hope he hits it at someone." - Al Leiter

[edit] Trivia

Gwynn's 2,000th and 3,000th hits both came on August 6th, in 1993 and 1999 respectively. August 6th happens to be the birthday of his mother, Vendella Gwynn.

Petco Park's street address is 19 Tony Gwynn Drive in San Diego.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 1981 MVP Northwest League, Walla Walla Padres
  • 15-time NL All-Star (1984-1987 & 1989-1999)
  • 5-time NL Gold Glove Winner (1986, 1987 & 1989-1991)
  • 7-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1995 & 1997)
  • 8-time NL Batting Average Leader (1984, 1987-1989 & 1994-1997)
  • NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1994)
  • NL At Bats Leader (1986)
  • NL Runs Scored Leader (1986)
  • 7-time NL Hits Leader (1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1995 & 1997)
  • 7-time NL Singles Leader (1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1995 & 1997)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1997)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1986 & 1987)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 5 (1984, 1986, 1987, 1989 & 1997)
  • 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 1 (1987)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 2007

[edit] Further Reading

  • Barry M. Bloom: "Hall of Famer Gwynn passes away at 54: Beloved 'Mr. Padre' had been battling salivary gland cancer", mlb.com, June 16, 2014. [1]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Tony Gwynn was truly the greatest", USA Today Sports, June 16, 2014. [2]
  • Rick Sorci: "Baseball Profile: Tony Gwynn of the Padres", Baseball Digest, August 1990, p. 55. [3]

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