Updated at 2:55 p.m. June 16, 2014
Tony Gwynn’s death Monday at age 54 was a shock to San Diegans — but also brought tears to millions and tributes from TV personalities Jimmy Kimmel and Keith Olbermann, former stars Mike Piazza and Barry Larkin, and leaders of San Diego’s other major team, the Chargers.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer ordered all flags on city facilities to be flown at half-staff Monday and Tuesday in honor of Gwynn.
Here are some memories via Twitter and highlights from media postings:
San Diego State University: “Tony’s passing is extremely devastating news for the baseball team and the entire family at San Diego State,” said SDSU executive baseball head coach Mark Martinez. “He has been a friend, mentor and father to all the kids who have played in our program during his tenure. He taught more than baseball at SDSU. He taught how to do thing the right way with respect, honor and class, and those are teaching that last a lifetime. He made a lasting impression on everyone who has come through the Aztec program including the coaching staff. What will be missed most is the chance to hear him laugh. His infectious laughter had a way of turning bad thing to good and good things to better. His knowledge of the game, his ability to teach and his personality will all be sorely missed. All of our prayers go out for the family during this time.” (The university also produced a video saluting Gwynn. See above.)
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: “Hard working, passionate and always pursuing excellence. Tony Gwynn was a true San Diegan. The only thing greater than Tony’s love for baseball was his love for San Diego. Our city is a little darker today without him but immeasurably better because of him. Our hearts and prayers are with Tony’s family today. I ask San Diegans to join me in remembering Tony Gwynn’s legacy.”
U-T San Diego: “Think about the number of people Tony’s touched, the generations he touched in San Diego for 30 years,” said Gwynn’s longtime Padres teammate, closer Trevor Hoffman. “Say you were an eighth-grader in 1980. You’re watching him on the hardcourt at San Diego State. “Now he’s drafted by your hometown team. The eight-year old is now a 12-year-old, and that’s just the start of a 20-year career. Or you’re the 50-year-old who followed him throughout his career in the same city.”
The New York Times: He marked the 64th birthday of his mother, Vendella, with his 3,000th hit, against the Expos in Montreal on Aug. 6, 1999. After his teammates and even the first-base umpire, Kerwin Danley, his former teammate at San Diego State, hugged him, his mother came onto the field and embraced him. He had celebrated her 58th birthday with his 2,000th hit. Gwynn credited his mother and his father, Charles, a warehouse worker who also coached Little League baseball, with forging his work ethic. “I think my parents gave it to me,” he was quoted by George Will in “Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball” (1990), recalling how his mother approached her job as a postal worker. “She wanted to be prepared,” he said. “She’d give me the test she had to take and I’d read off the streets and she’d tell me where they connect or whatever. I think it rubbed off.”
Chicago Tribune: “It is with profound sadness that we mourn the passing of Tony Gwynn,” said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, in a statement. “He was beloved by so many, especially the Hall of Fame family, for his kindness, graciousness and passion for the game. Tony was one of baseball history’s most consistent hitters and most affable personalities. He was an icon for San Diego Padres fans, never more evident than on Induction Day of 2007, when tens of thousands of Tony’s most appreciative fans filled Cooperstown for his Hall of Fame speech. We extend our deepest sympathies to (his wife) Alicia and the entire Gwynn family.”
National Baseball Hall of Fame: Born Anthony Keith Gwynn on May 9, 1960, in Los Angeles, Calif., Gwynn’s athletic ability belied his stocky 5-foot-11, 185-pound body. He was a two-sport star at San Diego State, and was drafted by two pro teams in two pro leagues on the same day – June 10, 1981 – going to baseball’s San Diego Padres in the third round the NBA’s San Diego Clippers in the 10th round.Gwynn’s bat brought him to the majors in 1982, and tireless work at the plate and in the outfield resulted in his first All-Star selection in 1984. That year, Gwynn led the National League with a .351 batting average and 213 hits – helping San Diego win its first NL pennant.
Sporting News: Gwynn had two operations for cancer in his right cheek between August 2010 and February 2012. The second surgery was complicated, with surgeons removing a facial nerve because it was intertwined with a tumor inside his right cheek. They grafted a nerve from Gwynn’s neck to help him eventually regain facial movement.
The Washington Post: The Post’s Tom Boswell called Gwynn “one of the sweetest, nicest, smartest players I ever met in baseball,” in his weekly chat today. “He was always grinning, joking and learning. No better student of hitting since Ted Williams. (Some others also [were] great at it, but none better than Gwynn.)” Boswell recalled pitcher Greg Maddux telling him how difficult it was to assess the speed of a pitch and likened it to the difficulty of telling how fast a car was going. “If the car was alone on the road,” Boswell wrote on his chat, “‘the human eye can’t do it.’ And, Maddux said, ‘No hitter can tell the difference in speed of different pitches, except that &^%$#@! * Tony Gwynn.”
Fox News: Gwynn claimed the cancer in his salivary gland was the result of his longtime chewing tobacco habit. The cancer returned twice and he again underwent radiation treatment in an attempt to shrink the tumor in 2012. “The whole experience was traumatic because I thought I had it beat, and dang, it came back,” Gwynn said during a visit to the Hall of Fame in 2012 for the induction ceremony.
The Guardian (of Britain): On Sunday, Father’s Day, Gwynn’s son, the Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr, was quoted by CSN Philly discussing his relationship with his father. “I always try to get in an ‘I love you,’” Gwynn Jr said. “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. I go through moments during the day where it’s heavy on the mind and then I get a little bit of a reprieve during the game or in the batting cage. Other than that, when there’s downtime, I’m usually thinking about my dad.”
SB Nation: Before dedicating his life to baseball, Gwynn attended SDSU, where he also played basketball and was twice an all-conference Second Team player. His son, Tony Gwynn Jr., currently plays for the Philadelphia Phillies. Gwynn Sr. coached Jr. at SDSU in 2003, before he was drafted by the Brewers, and the two both collected their first big-league hit on July 19, 24 years apart.
USA Today: Said Commissioner Bud Selig in a statement: “His all-around excellence on the field was surpassed by his exuberant personality and genial disposition in life. Tony was synonymous with San Diego Padres baseball, and with his .338 career batting average and eight batting titles, he led his beloved ballclub to its greatest heights, including two National League pennants.
“Tony loved our game, the city of San Diego and his alma mater where he starred and coached, San Diego State University, and he was a part of a wonderful baseball family. His commitment to the children of San Diego made him a deserving recipient of our game’s highest off-field honor, the Roberto Clemente Award, in 1999.
“For more than 30 years, Tony Gwynn was a source of universal goodwill in the national pastime, and he will be deeply missed by the many people he touched. On behalf of all of our clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Tony’s wife Alicia, their son Tony Jr. of the Phillies, their daughter Anisha, the Padres franchise, his fans in San Diego and his many admirers throughout Baseball.”
El Nuevo Herald: Tony Gwynn, beisbolista integrante del Salón de la Fama, murió a los 54 años. Gwynn, quien bateaba a la zurda con gran elegancia, fue uno de los atletas más queridos en San Diego. Su sobrenombre era “Señor Padre”, debido a que jugó los 20 años de su carrera en grandes ligas para esta franquicia. Desde marzo dejó su puesto en su alma máter, la universidad San Diego State, para ser atendido por los doctores. Su representante, John Boggs, inform que Gwynn murió el lunes en el suburbio Poway.
Boston Globe: Gwynn and [Ted] Williams first met at the 1992 All-Star game in San Diego. “I always felt like since the All-Star Game of ’92, the first time I met him, I was a much better hitter from that point on,” Gwynn said. “Those eight, nine years after that, I was a much better hitter than I was my first 10 or 11.” At the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway, Gwynn help escort Williams on the Fenway infield during the pregame ceremony and assisted him in throwing out the first pitch.
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