Former San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn, regarded as both one of baseball's greatest pure hitters and most beloved players ever, passed away Monday morning surrounded by his family at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, California.
The 54-year-old first-ballot Hall of Famer had been battling cancer since it was detected in his salivary gland in 2010.
The affable, sweet-swinging Gwynn was an eight-time National League batting champion and played his entire 20-year career with the Padres, from whom he retired in 2001 with a team-record career batting average of .338.
His son, Tony Gwynn Jr., plays for the Philadelphia Phillies. "I always try to get in an 'I love you,'" he recently told Comcast SportsNet Philly, of his phone calls with his dad. "For a while that was uncomfortable for me, I don’t know why. But since 2010, it hasn’t been uncomfortable. It’s something I want to make sure I get in because you never know what's going to happen."
We are terribly sad to say goodbye to our teammate, our friend and a legend, Tony Gwynn. Rest in peace, Mr. Padre.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) June 16, 2014
Tony Gwynn has died, his agent John Boggs just told me. It was the phone call I've been dreading. God bless, Mr. Padre. I love you. @Padres
— Barry M. Bloom (@Boomskie) June 16, 2014
“@MLBNetwork: What is your favorite Tony Gwynn moment or memory?” Mine was Every time he walked to the plate.
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) June 16, 2014
In my short stint covering baseball, I quickly realized Tony Gwynn was not only a great hitter but also a pro, classy & loved the game. RIP.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 16, 2014
The swing was poetry. The act was pure class. RIP Tony Gwynn Sr.
— Sal Masekela (@SalMasekela) June 16, 2014
Tony Gwynn never struck out more than 40 times in a season. One of his many, many jaw-dropping stats. RIP to one of the all-time greats
— John M. Sandberg (@JohnMSandberg) June 16, 2014