“In the end, truly, Tony Gwynn’s greatest achievement was not that he was so admired or emulated, but that he was so loved,” wrote Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times.
San Diego and Padres icon Tony Gwynn, affectionately known as “Mr. Padre,” died on Monday. A tribute to honor his memory took place at Wednesday night’s Padres game, the first home game since Gwynn’s passing. Thursday, San Diegans were asked to don their best Padres gear or colors in honor of the San Diego icon.
The outpouring of love for Gwynn has been quite amazing to watch. Many are the stories of those inspired by the life of this much loved, legendary man. Throughout the week flowers have been left by those touched by his life, gathering around his statue at Petco Park.
At Wednesday’s game Gwynn’s number 19 was cut into the grass, and Padres players displayed a home plate patch with the number 19 over each one’s heart. According to Breitbart writer and professional sports anchor Kevin Scholla, Gwynn’s San Diego State players were present at the game. An Aztec ballplayer in his college years, Gwynn is listed on the university’s website as head coach, in his 12th year leading their team.
The Padres won the game Wednesday night, a fitting end to a night dedicated to a man who, according to Plaschke, “turned down millions of dollars to spend his entire 20-year career in San Diego.” Plaschke met and came to know Gwynn 27 years ago when Plaschke began his reporting career. He describes Gwynn as he remembers those first two seasons he spent in the Padres locker room, “witnessing a unique combination of greatness and grace, toughness and kindness, heavenly skills and earthly touch.”
With a swing described as artful and pure, Hall-of-Famer Gwynn hit a remarkable .338 and in 1994 came just shy of .400 at .394. In his 20-year career Gwynn was elected to fifteen All-Star games and received eight National League batting titles. “Tony was once-in-a-lifetime – the greatest hitter in the last 50 years of baseball” said Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler according to the Union-Tribune.
“Aggressive free swinger with good bat speed and power potential” reads a Houston Astros scouting report posted by Adam Navarette who called Gwynn one of the all time greatest hitters.
True to form, at the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway Park, Gwynn led a tribute to Ted Williams. Gwynn then stepped up along with Mark McGuire to support Williams as he threw out the first pitch to Carlton Fisk according to ESPN’s report of the event.
According to 10 News, a public memorial will be held at the stadium, June 26 at 7:19 p.m.
Photo: Larry Goren/AP