Tony Gwynn 16-9
Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn. File photo

Updated at 12:55 p.m. Oct.19, 2015

State and local officials Monday dedicated signs that designate a stretch of Interstate 15 in the North County as the Tony Gwynn Memorial Freeway in honor of the late Padres star.

The section of highway stretching around three miles between Scripps Poway Parkway and Camino Del Norte is now named in honor of the Hall of Fame right-fielder, who lived in nearby Poway for many years before his death from cancer in 2014.

Gwynn played for the Padres for 20 seasons and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. After his playing career, he became the head coach at his alma mater, San Diego State University.

He was diagnosed in 2010 with cancer, which he blamed on chewing tobacco, a staple habit of baseball players. He stepped down as the Aztecs’ coach in midway through the 2014 season to concentrate on his health and died at the age of 54 in June of that year.

His family, including widow Alicia Gwynn, took part in the sign unveiling, along with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, county Supervisor Ron Roberts and Caltrans District Director Laurie Berman.

Tony Gwynn Jr., who has enjoyed a long professional baseball career himself, told 10News that he used that route along Interstate 15 to get to Petco Park and, before that, Qualcomm Stadium, ever since he started driving.

“It’s special for me, personally, from that standpoint — it’s another memory,” Gwynn said. “It brings back memories of me and my dad going to the baseball field and coming back home.”

The freeway segment is not the only roadway named for the former batting star. A street outside Petco Park is named Tony Gwynn Drive.

A statue of the fan favorite swinging a bat stands at Petco Park, and the baseball stadium at SDSU is named after the late coach. The city of Poway is also considering a plan to create a monument of some sort at Lake Poway Park, close to where he lived.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.