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Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn dies
Tony Gwynn, who banged out 3,141 hits during a Hall of Fame career spanning 20 seasons
with the San Diego Padres, has died of cancer at age 54, it was announced Monday.
The lefty-swinging Gwynn, nicknamed "Mr. Padre," had a career .338 batting average, won
eight National League batting titles, and played in the franchise's only two World Series.
He died early Monday morning at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, Calif., while surrounded by
his family, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced.
"Major League Baseball today mourns the tragic loss of Tony Gwynn," commissioner Bud Selig
said in a statement Monday. "The greatest Padre ever and one of the most accomplished hitters
that our game has ever known, whose all-around excellence on the field was surpassed by his
exuberant personality and genial disposition in life.
"... For 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."
He had been signed to a one-year contract extension as the baseball coach at San Diego
State on June 11. He had been on medical leave since late March while recovering
from cancer treatment. He took over the program at his alma mater after the 2002 season.
Gwynn had two operations for cancer in his right cheek between August 2010 and February
2012. The second surgery was complicated, with surgeons removing a facial nerve because
it was intertwined with a tumor inside his right cheek. They grafted a nerve from Gwynn's
neck to help him eventually regain facial movement.
He had said that he believed the cancer was from chewing tobacco.
In a rarity in pro sports, Gwynn spent his entire 20-year career with the Padres, choosing to
stay rather than leaving for bigger paychecks elsewhere. His terrific hand-eye coordination
made him one of the game's greatest contact hitters. He excelled at hitting singles the other
way, through the "5.5 hole" between third base and shortstop.
He was a 15-time All-Star, and his .338 career average was 18th-best all-time.
Gwynn was inducted into the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2007.
His No. 19 was retired by the Padres in 2004.
"Tony will be remembered in baseball circles for his hitting acumen, as evidenced by a lofty
.338 lifetime batting average and an astonishing eight National League batting titles," Jeff
Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement. "But it
was his infectious laugh, ever-present smile and humble disposition that made Mr. Padre a
favorite in San Diego and an endearing figure to a nation of baseball fans who marveled at his
career accolades and celebrated his 2007 induction into the Hall of Fame in record numbers."
Gwynn, who went into the Hall along with Cal Ripken Jr., was named on 532 of 545 votes cast
(97.6 percent). He was also honored with the 1995 Branch Rickey Award, the 1998 Lou Gehrig
Memorial Award and the 1999 Roberto Clemente Award.
"This is an extraordinarily sad day," Ripken Jr. said in a statement. "Tony was a Hall of Fame
ballplayer but more importantly he was a wonderful man. Tony always had a big smile on
his face and was one of the warmest and most genuine people I have ever had the honor of
knowing. Like all baseball fans I will miss him very much and my thoughts are with his family
He hit safely in 75 percent of the games in which he played during his career, and he batted
.300 in each of his last 19 seasons, a streak second only to Ty Cobb.
He homered off the facade at Yankee Stadium off San Diego native David Wells in Game 1 of
the 1998 World Series and scored the winning run in the 1994 All-Star Game. He was hitting
.394 when a players strike ended the 1994 season, denying him a shot at becoming the first
player to hit .400 since San Diego native Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.
Gwynn befriended Williams and the two loved to talk about hitting. Gwynn steadied Williams
when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the 1999 All-Star Game at Boston's Fenway