How do you define greatness…how do you quantify quality?
It has turned out to be a summer of sadness in our baseball town. The Voice of Summer-Jerry Coleman was silenced. The Smile of Summer-Mr-Padre Tony Gwynn has passed away.
Greatness in baseball is all about statistics, and Tony Gwynn’s numbers are staggering. The (.338) career average. The (.300) seasons 19X in a 20-year period. The 3,141-hits. The Silver Slugger Bats and Gold Glove trophies.
Quality of the person is there, not in the stat sheet, but in the heart of so many people who crossed paths with Tony Gwynn.
The 20-year Padres went into the Hall of Fame with another lifer-the Orioles Cal Ripken. We may never see that again.
Gwynn became the fabric of the community, with his charitable contributions, his dealings with the media, his love of kids, and his fanatical approach to baseball.
Mr. Padre turned down multiple offers to leave as a free agent and go elsewhere. He probably invented the term ‘San Diego discount’. He was grounded in this community, cared about his community, supported his school too
I remember the stories of him screaming at Union chief Gene Orza who ripped him for taking less to stay in San Diego, and Gwynn telling him to mind his own business, because the Padres’ contract was Tony’s business.
He never wavered about what it took to become great, his attention to detail about the science of hitting. He never quit either in his five year fight with cancer, which took his life yesterday morning at 1:15am.
If you close your eyes, you remember him slapping balls thru the 5.5 hole; you see the picture of Gwynn and Ted Williams at the All Star festivities in Fenway Park. You forever remember the smile. You never forget the laugh-the cackle-and his always loud way of talking.
We mourn his passing today, but we celebrate his life. Look at the pictures today of the Tony Gwynn-Hall of Fame statue at the Park in the Park in centerfield to tell you the story of how the community feels..
Today in heaven, God sits in the chair..with Teddy Ballgame on one side and T-Gwynn on the other, likely talking and arguing about hitting. That’s the way we should remember who he was, what he stood for. Tony Gwynn-excellence as a player, and as a person.