THE TONY GWYNN COLLECTION
The late Tony Gwyn was one of Major League Baseball’s best hitters ever. A native of Long beach, Calif., Gwynn was born on May 9, 1960, and became a two-sport star at San Diego State University where he excelled in basketball as well and set the school record for assists as the Aztecs starting point guard. Drafted in 1981 by both the NBA’s San Diego Clippers and MLB’s San Diego Padres, Gwynn chose baseball and set a Hall of Fame career in motion.
San Diego’s lefty-swinging batsman, who was nicknamed “Mr. Padre,” had a career .338 batting average, won a record-tying eight National League batting titles and played in the franchise’s only two World Series in 1984 and ‘98. And it was in 1994 when Gwynn came the closest to breaking the magical .400 plateau, only to have the season end abruptly in August due to a players’ strike. Regardless, Gwynn was hitting .394 at the time and seemed poised to join the likes of Ted Williams (1941) and Bill Terry (1930) in baseball’s ultra-exclusive .400 Club.
He was called the best pure hitter since Ted Williams. In fact, it was Williams himself who once said: “Gwynn is the Picasso of modern-day hitters. Nobody studies the game harder, pays more attention to detail and goes to the plate with a better idea of what he wants to do.”
It was his mastery of incoming pitches that catapulted Gwynn to the top of his generation of hitters. His ability to routinely slap the ball between third base and shortstop and elude the outstretched arms of both infielders led to 3,141 career hits, 2,378 of which were singles most often to the opposite field. Gwynn’s entire 20-year MLB career was played with the San Diego Padres, which earned him an everlasting status as the city’s most admired athlete.
Baseball’s consummate batsman of the 1990s, Gwynn earned a well-deserved reputation as a Williams/Ty Cobb-like batting connoisseur. He molded his crouching, left-handed swing and studied his craft with a scientific fervor. Not only was Gwynn a superb two-strike hitter and a durable model of consistency, he was a feared clutch hitter who compiled a .417 average with runners in scoring position from 1995 through 1997. Never intimidated by on-the-field situations, Gwynn’s light shined bright again in 1998 when he helped the Padres win the N.L. pennant and a trip to the World Series to face the vaunted New York Yankees. In that year’s Fall Classic he batted a series-best .500 and his memorable, two-run blast in Game 1 off Yankee Stadium’s right field upper deck – Gwynn’s first and only postseason home run – had given San Diego its first of only two leads in the entire series.
He was a consummate team leader who promoted fun and chemistry in the San Diego locker room and attention to detail whenever the Padres took the field. Whether he was playing solid right-field defense, which earned him five Gold Glove awards from 1986 to ‘91, or delivering hits with assembly-line consistency, Gwynn played the game with a passion that was infectious.
His unrivaled hitting prowess was only part of the legacy Gwynn imprinted on the city of San Diego. The 15-time All-Star, the most beloved player in franchise history, retired after the 2001 season and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. Following his HOF induction, a statue of Gwynn was erected outside of San Diego’s Petco Park. Appropriately, it shows Mr. Padre swinging through at the plate. Gwynn passed away less than seven years later on June 16, 2014, at the age of 54. Salivary gland cancer took one of baseball’s best players from us far too soon.
TONY GWYNN’S 1987 SAN DIEGO PADRES NATIONAL LEAGUE SILVER SLUGGER AWARD (GWYNN FAMILY LOA) $12,545
TONY GWYNN’S C.1978-81 SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (BASKETBALL) GAME WORN JERSEY AND SHORTS (GWYNN FAMILY LOA) $11,858
TONY GWYNN’S 1989 SAN DIEGO PADRES NATIONAL LEAGUE SILVER SLUGGER AWARD TROPHY BAT (GWYNN FAMILY LOA) $11,404