Hall of Famer, and former San Diego Padre, Tony Gwynn died Monday, June 16, at the age of 54. Gwynn died of cancer early Monday morning at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, California, while surrounded by his family.
Gwynn recently signed a one-year contract extension as the baseball coach for San Diego State University. He had been on medical leave since March while he was recovering from cancer treatment. Gwynn took the job at his alma mater after the 2002 season.
Gwynn had surgery for the cancer in his right cheek in 2012. Surgeons had to remove a facial nerve because it is intertwined with a tumor that was inside of his right cheek Gwynn had said that he thought the cancer was from chewing tobacco.
Gwynn, who was nicknamed Mr. Padre had a historic major league career. The right fielder played all of his 20-year career with the Padres, which is extremely rare, choosing to stay loyal to his team, rather than leaving for a bigger paycheck. He played in a total of 2,440 games and ended with a .338 lifetime batting average, while compiling 3.141 hits in his illustrious career. He is one of few players to play 20 seasons with just one team, and also is in great company, as he is in the 3,000 hit club.
Gwynn was the winner of the batting title for nearly half of his career, winning the award a total of eight times and led San Diego to the franchise's only two World Series. He was also a 15-time all-star and reached the 200-hit mark in a season five times, and his career batting average is good for 18th-best all time. Gwynn also hit safely in 1,838 games, which amounts to just over 75 percent of the total games that he played in. He also had 951 multi-hit games, and only had 34 multi-strikeout games.
Gwynn batted .300 in each of last 19 seasons, which is an MLB streak that is second only to the great Ty Cobb.
With the resume that Gwynn has, and with what he did throughout his career, he has many debating whether Gwynn may indeed be the greatest hitter of all time. The lefty-swinging Gwynn saw all of his hard work pay off as he was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, as a first-ballot selection, being on 97 percent of the ballots.
Gwynn also had his number 19 retired by the Padres back in 2004. Gwynn was without question one of the very best to ever play the game.