While the Atlanta Braves have always been my favorite team, the late Tony Gwynn was my favorite hitter.
I can recall, on many occasions, staying up late simply to watch the San Diego Padres play in order to see Gwynn bat, if only for a single time. Gwynn was a genius at the plate. While many players consider themselves to be avid students of hitting, Gwynn was a professor. Quite honestly, I’d never see a hitter like him before, and I doubt I’ll ever see one again. The man rolled out of bed batting over .300, and he made it look effortless.
Gwynn, a true legend in the game of baseball, will be remembered for his greatness on the diamond, but also for his professionalism and humility. Playing for the San Diego Padres from 1982, until his retirement in 2001, the man known as “Mr. Padre” was, and forever will be, a true icon in most every sense of the word. While his accomplishments were many, his personality was always that of a thoughtful and thankful gentleman.
While listing Gwynn’s accolades would likely fill an entire page, I can only say that Tony Gwynn is quite a nostalgic figure for me. In the current age of arrogance and money grabs that has invaded professional sports, Gwynn was a throwback to a prior era, where the game itself is what mattered the most. Gwynn understood that baseball was a game, and the money was just a perk.
Out of respect for Mr. Gwynn, I refuse to make this piece an obituary, but rather a celebration of life. I feel honored that my formative years just happened to share the same space with a baseball legend in the making. Due to this fact, I will have a plethora of stories to share for many years to come.
Thank you, Tony Gwynn. You were always the master of your craft.
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