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Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn dead at 54

Tony Gwynn at the Baseball Hall of Fame
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Tony Gwynn passed away from salivary gland cancer, he was 54 years old. Best known for playing with the San Diego Padres for nineteen years and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. When he retired at the end of the 2001 season, Gwynn had 3,141 hits and a career batting average of .338. He played his entire major league career with the San Diego Padres and hit under .300 only once.

Born on May 9, 1960 in Los Angeles, California. After graduated from high school, Gwynn went to San Diego State and played basketball (he was a highly sought after prospect out of Long Beach Polytechnic High School) and skipped baseball during his freshman year. During his sophomore season he became a two sport star. By the time he left SDSU, Gwynn set several records in basketball and was a two time All-American in baseball.

Tony Gwynn was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the 1981 Major League Baseball draft. He was also selected in the 10th round of the NBA draft by the San Diego Clippers. Gwynn chose to pursue baseball and was sent to Class A minor league team the Walla Walla Padres. He worked his way up to AAA Hawaii Islanders before being called up to San Diego.

Gwynn played his first full season with the Padres in 1984 and led the team to the pennant by winning the batting title with a .351 batting average, stole 33 bases and hit 5 home runs. For the next seventeen seasons he earned seven more batting titles, fourteen All-Star game appearances, five golden gloves and six silver slugger awards. His career was hampered during the twilight of his career by a severe knee injury that kept him on the DL and limited his playing time. He retired at the end of the 2001 season and had his number 19 retired by the team in 2004.

Tony Gwynn was inducted into the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame in 2002 and was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 along with Cal Ripken Jr. After retiring, he went back to coach for his old alma mater SDSU for 12 seasons and record a .500 record (363-363) and was on a medical leave during the time of his death. Gwynn suffered from salivary gland cancer. He has said in the past that he believed it was from tobacco chewing during his playing days and has been battling it since 1997.

Tony Gwynn was a tremendous player and an all around good guy who was well liked by the fans, fellow players and the media. He was a fan favorite who always took time to meet and greet with the fans and will be missed.

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