Legendary baseball player Tony Gwynn, one of the best pure hitters in the modern era, passed away on June 16. A month later, Major League Baseball didn't even mention him.
The 85th annual All-Star Game was held Tuesday at Target Field in Minneapolis. The event was a chance to show off the new stadium in Minnesota's largest city which had not hosted a Mid-Summer Classic since 1985. It also gave fans and players, alike, a chance to honor Derek Jeter. The Yankees shortstop is retiring after this season and deserved a respectful ovation.
So did Gwynn.
The MLB and FOX Sports, which broadcasted the game, did not mention Gwynn's passing, or the recent death of longtime coach Don Zimmer. With baseball fans in America and abroad watching, those in charge dropped the ball for a chance to make a beautiful ceremony for two of baseball's greatest figures.
The San Diego Union Tribune ran a massive list of disappointed tweets including that of a fellow Padre legend — Dave Winfield.
"I did think there would be some sort of moment of silence or recognition for #TonyGwynn at some point; #itwasnottobe" tweeted WInfield from his Twitter handle, @DaveWinfieldHOF.
Winfield was in attendance at the game, as were a number of former players such as Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Tony LaRussa, Rod Carew and a whole host more.
It's one of the few chances during the baseball season where former stars, current players, many officials and other baseball personnel are gathered in one place. A small ceremony, such as a moment of silence, video montage or message center tribute would have been appropriate for the thousands in attendance and the millions watching at home.
"Baseball has an obligation to itself and to its own memory," writes Steven Goldman of SBNation. "Television has no commitments to Baseball as a product except insofar as how it affects the program of the moment."
Fox Sports made errors
Though FOX does claim it paid tribute to Gwynn on their own accord — kind of — but it was more pushed to the side. There was a video clip as part of All-Star Game pre-game coverage on FOX's sister station, FOX Sports 1.
Craig Calterra of NBC's Hardball Talk lays out the plan of the small Gwynn tribute here. Maybe a lot of the outrage is overblown. In the days after Gwynn's death there was plenty of mention and talk around the sport to honor a former star gone too soon. Still, there was a missed opportunity on Tuesday.
In a game that didn't feature much excitement — and hasn't in years, says Detroit-based writer Art Regner — taking a short time to tip the cap to Gwynn and Zimmer would have boosted the game itself and gave baseball some needed respect.