On August 6th, 1999 the Padres traveled north of the border to play the Montreal Expos.
With Veras at first, Tony Gwynn came to bat with 2,999 career hits over his then-18 year career. His career was starting to wind down as he missed more games in that 1999 season than any full season since 1983. Despite being 39 years old, his eyes and his bat were still as sharp as a katana blade.
He stepped up to the plate against Smith and worked the count to 1 and 2.
Mr. Padre then lined a breaking ball over Expos second baseman Mike Mordecai’s head for number 3,000 of his career. Bedlam ensued. The entire Padres dugout jogged onto the field as the hometown Expos fans cheered out of appreciation for what they had just witnessed.
Kerwin Danley, a college teammate of Gwynn’s at San Diego State, happened to be the first base umpire and witnessed it all. This also happened on the 64th birthday of Tony Gwynn’s mom. The only thing that would have made the moment any more perfect would to have it happen at Qualcomm Stadium.
It was a tender moment for Gwynn, who had reached the summit every hitter strives to achieve. 3,000th hits is a an exclusive club, with members such as Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente. For most cases, reaching 3,000 hits is a ticket punched into the Hall of Fame (with exception of scandals and steroid use).
Here is another video of Tony and the top-9 moments in his illustrious career.
The Padres ended up winning this game 12-10 and Gwynn finished four for five on the day. In other words, another day at the office for “Mr. Padre.”