Hall Of Famer Tony Gwynn Dies
Tuesday Jun 17, 2014 12:00am
(SAN DIEGO) - Tony Gwynn, who banged out 3,141 hits during a Hall of Fame career spanning 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, has died of cancer at age 54, it was announced Monday. The lefty-swinging Gwynn, nicknamed Mr. Padre, had a career .338 batting average, won eight National League batting titles and played in the franchise's only two World Series. He died early Monday morning at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, California, while surrounded by his family, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced. Survivors include his wife Alicia, daughter Anisha and son Tony Jr. who plays with the Philadelphia Phillies. He 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. Gwynn had said that he believed the cancer was from chewing tobacco. In a rarity in pro sports, Gwynn spent his entire 20-year career with the Padres, choosing to stay rather than leaving for bigger paychecks elsewhere. His terrific hand-eye coordination made him one of the game's greatest contact hitters. He excelled at hitting singles the other way, through the "5.5 hole" between third base and shortstop. He was a 15-time All-Star and reached the coveted 200-hit mark in a season five times, and his .338 career average was 18th-best all time. Gwynn batted .300 in each of his last 19 seasons, an MLB streak second only to Ty Cobb's. Gwynn was inducted into the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2007. His No. 19 was retired by the Padres in 2004, and a statue was erected in his honor at Petco Park.
Tony Gwynn in action for the Padres (photo courtesy of Jeff Gross/Allsports)