Major League Baseball and the entire world of sports has lost one of the great ambassadors of team sport. According to the Associated Press on Monday, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has died at the young age of 54 due to cancer. The baseball world mourns his loss, but those who had the pleasure of knowing him and playing with him celebrate his life.
Gwynn earned the nickname of “Mr. Padre” for his 20-year major league career with the Padres. He is one of the few modern day players to play his entire career with the same team. A prolific hitter, Gwynn leads the Padres in mostly every offensive category. He chose to stay with the Padres because he loved the team and his hometown of San Diego so much.
In his career, Gwynn had 3,141 hits, a career .338 batting average and won eight NL batting titles. He was a 15-time All-Star who was not only a star on the field, but also a star in life. He had a smile that warmed the hearts of everyone he came in touch with and a smile that widely expressed his love for a game he retired from after the 2001 season.
Tony Gwynn won almost every batting battle against opposing pitchers, but ultimately he lost his biggest battle, the one against cancer, but the mark he left on the game has created long-lasting memories that will forever mold him as a legend. Gwynn suffered from cheek cancer that he said he believed was from chewing tobacco. He went on medical leave from his job as baseball coach at San Diego State in late March due to the illness.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig expressed his sympathies on behalf of the entire league. He said in a statement, “More than 30 years, Tony Gwynn was a source of universal goodwill in the national pastime, and he will be deeply missed by the many people he touched.” Tony Gwynn began touching those lives when he made his big league debut on July 19, 1982.