Right Field- Tony Gwynn
The immortal Mr. Padre was a key member to the 1998 Padres. He provided that veteran leadership and was the solid rock in the middle of the lineup. At this point in Gwynn’s career he was unafraid to turn it loose every once in a while.
Gwynn for the first time in his career was in the middle of three consecutive seasons hitting multiple home runs. From 1997-1999, Gwynn hit 43 home runs those three seasons. Not a huge number by any means, but consider Gwynn hit 92 home runs his other 16 years.
1998 was the pinnacle of Tony Gwynn’s power years, as proven by his grand slam off David Wells deep into the upper deck at Yankee stadium. That home run in the World Series was Tony Gwynn’s favorite hit ever. He told me that himself, I asked him. Having the pleasure of meeting this man and talking baseball with him was an absolute joy. His infectious laugh, the way he looked right into your eyes when he spoke to you. A true god among men.
Tony Gwynn hit .321 in 1998 with 16 home runs and 69 runs batted in. He played in 127 games as his chronic knee issues were a constant battle. The man never complained and played when he could. To play right field with the injury issues he dealt with shows the type of man Gwynn was. He never requested to play first base, and we all know he flat-out refused to play anywhere else. Specifically an American League team where he could DH. Could you imagine if the Padres were an American League team? Gwynn could have easily gotten 500 more hits, easily.
The 15-time all-star and five time gold glove recipient, is an icon in San Diego. He was also a seven time Silver Slugger, a Roberto Clemente award winner (1999) and an 8-time National League batting champion. A first ballot hall-of-fame member with 97.6 percent of the vote in 2007, Gwynn went in with Cal Ripken Jr. 3,141 career hits as a Padre is a record that will stay for a long while, if not forever.