It had to feel different. He had to feel butterflies. There must have been an ache. Of course there will forever be sadness.
The son returned to San Diego, the town that adored his father, and last night, our hearts had to go out to Tony Gwynn Jr. as the Phillies came to town to meet the Padres in a meaningless game between two underachieving teams.
In a quiet moment, Anthony Gwynn-Junior-went outside Petco Park to take a long look at the beautiful Hall of Fame statue erected to his “Pops” by the Padres years ago.
It has been a hard year, not the Phillies wretched season. A tough year dealing with the reality, that Cancer would strike out his father. The son was strong as iron trying to help the family thru the saddest of times, when the deadly disease came back a second time, then a third time.
It’s been a hard baseball year too for the always smiling kid, a .sub 200 batting average, a career slipping away as he gets to age 30. An outright release, a move back to Lehigh Valley-AAA in the International League, then a recall on September lst when rosters were expanded.
The father was a magician at bat. The son, a glove man, a base stealer, with a batting average hovering around .230. Tony spent his entire career as a Padres. Anthony has gone from Milwaukee, home to San Diego, on to Dodgers Stadium, off to Philadelphia to ply his trade.
As tough as this has been, there is so much respect for what the son has had to deal with.
Major league players, stopped the game, the first game Anthony came back from the funeral. The Houston catcher went out to the mound, stood there, and signaled his teammates to come up to the top of the dugout, to give T-Junior a standing ovation. The stadium erupted and they stood too, in a moment of salute to the young man over the passing of his old man.
Thru the heartache, he found a special love from so many people around baseball.
Anthony Gwynn back home for a four game series. A game to be played for sure. But a night to think kind thoughts of the kid, like father-like son, not as a hitter, but as a classy individual.