|Photo from HERE|
Having grown up a Red Sox fan, I never really got a chance to follow guys in the National League. But I knew he was special during the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway Park when he helped Ted Williams throw out the first pitch... making sure the old guy didn't fall over.
The Hall of Fame outfielder was a magician with the bat. In his 20 seasons, all with the Padres, he amassed some rather ridiculous numbers.
- 3,141 hits (good for #18 all time)
- 15 time All-Star
- 7 Silver Slugger Awards
- 5 Gold Gloves
- 8 National League batting titles
- 7 time National League hits leader
- .338 lifetime batting average (good for #16 all time)
Gwynn also hit .394 in the strike shortened 1994 season which was the highest season average since the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.
ESPN.com had a couple of other pretty cool stats too:
- Over his 20-year career, Gwynn's .338 lifetime batting average was the highest of any player whose career started after World War II—no one with 5,000 or more plate appearances has even gotten close.
- No hitter born after 1900 reached 3,000 hits in fewer games (2,284) or at-bats (8.874) than #19.
- No 3,000-hit man who was born after 1900 had a higher lifetime batting average than Gwynn.
- No hitter who has played his entire career since the invention of the designated hitter has accumulated as many hits as Gwynn (3,141) without spending a large portion of his career in the American League. (I love this stat.)
For the last four years, Gwynn has been battling salivary gland cancer, most likely from using smokeless tobacco. He underwent multiple surgeries, but the cancer forced him to take a leave of absence from his head coaching job at San Diego State, his alma mater, where he had coached for 12 season.
Tony Gwynn never wanted your sympathy... so instead of feeling sad, let's celebrate the life and achievements of an amazing ballplayer and person. Rest in peace, Mr. Padre.