TONY GWYNN- RIGHT FIELD
What can be said about the greatest Padres player of all time? Without question, he will always be regarded as Mr. Padre. He is deeply missed, and his passing was a complete loss for the whole Major League Baseball community.
Not only for his playing career and statistics but for the man he was. Tony Gwynn was a great man, and it had nothing to do with the game of baseball. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gwynn on several occasions, and at our last meeting, he actually remembered my name. That was the type of man he was, unselfish to the core.
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 eight-time National League batting champion. A first-ballot Hall-of-Fame member with 97.6 percent of the vote in 2007, Gwynn went in alongside Cal Ripken Jr.
His 3,141 hits as a Padre, is a record that should last forever. In this day and age of free agency, I have a hard time thinking any Padres player will have a 19-year run in San Diego and put up those type of numbers. Just simply not possible.
Gwynn’s connections to San Diego go back to his college years, where he was a stand-out basketball and baseball player for the San Diego State Aztecs. Gwynn still holds the record at the school for career assists (590) and assists in a game (18), and season (221). The San Diego Clippers drafted Gwynn in the 1981 NBA draft in the 10th round. Talk about a man destined to play in San Diego.
1984 was the first year for Tony Gwynn to play every day. He won the National League batting title for the first time with a .351 batting average. He struck out an unbelievable 23 times that year in 606 at-bats. Modern-day ballplayers should be ashamed!
It reminds me of a stat I recently saw. Mike Trout (647), at the age of 24, recorded 223 more career strikeouts than Tony Gwynn (434) did his whole 19-year career! Amazing, and Trout is considered the best player in the game — how the game has changed.
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