Today would have been Tony Gwynn’s 60th birthday…unfortunately Mr. Padre passed away in 2014.
As you know SSOMG has never been a huge Padre fan. That being said, I probably have watched parts of more than 2,000 Padre games over the last 30 years (maybe more?) since moving to San Diego County.
Many of those games were during Tony’s 20 year career. So, though I have never been a Padre fan, I did enjoy watching Tony Gwynn in those early days.
Tony was one of the greatest hitters of all time. Now I know you think I say that about every baseball player I write about, but Tony really had the credentials. He won 8 National League batting titles, second only to Ty Cobb. One of the most amazing statistics about Tony was his ability not to strike out.
In 20 years, Gwynn only struck out 434 times, or about 21 times per SEASON. For perspective, in 2019, 129 major league hitters stuck out more than 21 times before the end of April….
Tony was an athlete. He went to San Diego State before being drafted by the Padres. Interestingly, the day he was drafted in the 3rd round of the Major League Baseball draft, he was also selected in the 10th round of the NBA Draft…by the then San Diego Clippers. He is one of the few players that I can recall who ever played both college baseball and college basketball.
Tony was known his entire career for his bat control. He could do just about anything with that bat. He was not a power hitter, but a singles, doubles, hit-it-where they-ain’t type of player. 2007 was his first shot at being elected to the Hall of Fame. Gwynn confided that he was concerned about making the cut, feeling that the HOF voters would never elect a singles hitter into the Hall. Sure enough, he was wrong.
Tony was named on 97% of the ballots, the 10th highest voter total in history. Tony was that good.
The Padres and baseball fans miss Tony Gwynn and his love of the game and his great everyday attitude. Of course these days’ baseball fans miss a lot of things about baseball. We all hope for a return of the game, and we all hope we will someday see a hitter with as much magic with a baseball bat as T. Gwynn.