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Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has died at 54

Jun 16, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

This is terrible news: Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has died at 54.

Gwynn had been fighting cancer, which had first manifested itself as a malignant growth inside his right cheek, for four years. Gwynn attributed the cancer to years of smokeless tobacco use. Just yesterday, Jim Salisbury of wrote this story about Gwynn, his son Tony Gwynn, Jr. and their relationship as Gwynn battled cancer. Gwynn Jr. said it had gotten tougher of late, and that his father’s condition had deteriorated.

Gwynn was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. He posted a .338 career batting average over 20 seasons, collecting batting titles in eight of those years. In 1994 he was flirting with .400 when the season was halted due to the strike, leaving him at .394. He finished with 3,141 hits, which ranks 19th on the all-time list. He was an All-Star 15 times and won five gold gloves. His Padres teams made the playoffs three times in his career. He was part of NL Pennant winning teams in 1984 and 1998.

[MORE: What they’re saying about Tony Gwynn]

After he retired, Gwynn coached his alma mater, San Diego State University. Many future major leaguers went through that program during Gwynn’s tenure which lasted from 2003 until his death.

Gwynn was elected to the Hall of Fame with over 97% of the vote in 2007, his first year of eligibility. His number 19 jersey was retired by the Padres, the only team for which he played.

[MORE: Gwynn’s Hall of Fame career, by the numbers]

  1. chargrz - Jun 16, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    R.I.P. Mr. Padre. I used to see him around Poway where we lived and it was always a thrill as he was always a true gentleman.

    • jnation - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      How could there be 13 downvotes for this comment and many of the others that were nice comments about a man who passed away very young and, on the surface, seems to have been a decent human being? 13 downvotes? Save all that hate for someone who possible deserves it.

      • baberuthslegs - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        Imagine what a horrible life the down voter(s) must have that the highlight of their day is to come here and cast negativity on the heartfelt feelings of those who mourn the loss of a baseball hero.

        I feel sorry for whoever it is. He is sitting there in his lonely, pathetic existence, logging in over and over just so he can click the thumbs down icon and smirk while wishing he wasn’t impotent and could find another way to find satisfaction.

        Everyone here who clicked a thumbs up for a post here can feel blessed in knowing they have such positive feelings in their hearts. The loser(s) who clicked thumbs down can go on feeling like losers.

      • slappymcknucklepunch - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        The thumb downers are all the little children who have been banned. Pay no heed, this is all the happiness they have until until the nanny takes them to the playground tomorrow. If there is a dog, Tony is playing catch right now.

  2. bonesball - Jun 16, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.
    -Samuel Johnson
    You were one of the great talented players. Thank you Tony.God Bless.

    • faeridream - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:19 PM

      Well said, Bones. My heart is with Tony Jr. & the Gwynn family, as well as his friends. A baseball legend and a true gentleman, Gwynn will be missed

      • bonesball - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:04 PM

        Thanks faeridream!
        A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
        The memories that he made forever stay in our hearts.

      • ellenneliot - Jun 16, 2014 at 5:55 PM

        RIP Tony Gwynn. my condolences to your family and friends

    • chinahand11 - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      Great quote, bones. What I liked about Tony was that everyone liked him. Even Yankee fans! Just a good, upbeat guy you would want to hang out with.

      • bonesball - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        thank you chinahand11 :-)

  3. edelmanfanclub - Jun 16, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    WTF!! This is terrible, RIP TG

  4. adamt253 - Jun 16, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    When I was 7 years old in 1987, Tony became my favorite baseball player. I have every one of his rookie cards and a whole book full of just his cards. He was and always will be my favorite baseball player. I also struggle with the addiction of chewing tobacco. My heart sinks today as one of my heroes has fallen. I will be strong and make the pledge to fully quit tobacco and hopefully save myself from a similar fate. R.I.P. Tony Gwynn and thank you for being an outstanding individual and a phenomenal baseball player. We
    will miss you!

  5. jetsfaninindy - Jun 16, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Out of curiosity…. who are the d-bags down
    voting all these posts!?? Do us a favor, and go
    play in traffic.

    • baberuthslegs - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      I just checked HBT and found this story about Tony. I was stunned and saddened that he had passed. Then I noticed the thumbs down votes for posts offering condolences. I was even more stunned and saddened. Tony is now in a place where that kind of pathetic moron will no longer exist.
      R.I.P. Tony Gwynn.

  6. texasluva - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    May Tony R.I.P. I grew up with him and the Padres. I used to have season tickets back in the 1980’s. Thought the Pads never won the World Series they were in two of them when Tony was playing. I went to one playoff game and World Series in 1998. I am a bit upset at the moment thinking he is gone so young. My favorite Padre of All Time.

    • texasluva - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      Those that giving the thumbs down and no comments have nothing better to do with your life. There is really something mentally wrong with you! It’s not funny nor does anyone think it is other then another idiot.

  7. youknowwhatsgoodforshoulderpain - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    Wow. That’s terrible news. 😦

  8. mikhelb - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    I will always remember him, one of the best hitters i have ever seen (in par with Wade Boggs and George Brett).

    And in the words of the official voice of the Padres in spanish, mr Eduardo Ortega:

    ¡¡¡Él es él, el único, el campeón, Tooooony Gwyyyyyn!!!

    Adios Campeón, adiós mister Padre.

  9. Bar None - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Sad news. As someone who didn’t root for the Padres, I always hated when he came to the plate against the Cubs. I felt like it would be a base hit every time. He was amazing.

    This surprises me since he signed an extension at SDSU last week.

  10. smackingfools - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    As long as it was tobacco. Because God forbid it would’ve been years of marijuana use. Oh wait, marijuana doesn’t kill people. Prescription drugs, tobacco, and alcohol do. All legal. But that’s ok. $$$$

  11. tved12 - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    I was born in San Diego and some of my first memories are watching Tony Gwynn and Benito Santiago, but Tony was the man. I considered going to SDSU just so I could be in his presence. Not only was he a great ball player, he seemed like a very humble, down to earth gentleman.

    Heaven just got a good one. RIP Tony, my condolences to the Gwynn family.

  12. brentoage - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    From Jayson Stark’s Twitter feed:

    “I have a blog of awesome Tony Gwynn numbers coming soon. But how bout this: 129 AB vs. Maddux & Pedro . . . ZERO strikeouts”


  13. ch0psuey - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Can’t believe I just heard about this, terrible terrible news. Best pro athlete in San Diego history. True gentlemen of the game. RIP Tony, will never forget you.

  14. elwaysmilehighdenver - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    One of the greatest hitters to ever play baseball. An even greater person. Tony played the game and respected the game to the best of his ability. It was truly an honor to watch him play. RIP Tony!

  15. cohnjusack - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Outside of his rookie year, he never hit under .300

    In 1988, he was hitting just .246 after the Padres first 80 games.
    He hit .364 the rest of way en route to his 3rd batting title.

    RIP Tony.

  16. hittfamily - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Sad, sad day. We lost one of the good ones. If heaven does exist, then I am sure it has a ball club. Tony’s 25 again, and slapping singles off of Tony Gwynn.

  17. pittsburghpierogie - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    R.I.P. Tony… prayers to thoughts and family.

  18. cameltoehoe - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    R.I.P. Tony. You always killed the Giants with base hit after base hit. Yet, you always showed class doing it. You will be loved & missed!

  19. linhsiu - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    One of the greats…

    Rest in peace…

  20. brianz72 - Jun 16, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    Easily one of the top few hitters in MLB history and a great guy all around, from player to coach to broadcaster announcer. He was one of my heroes as a kid in the 80s when I collected baseball cards. He made hitting line drive single look like a cinch. I remember he got standing ovations at every ballpark in the league as his retirement approached and he’d step out of the box to tip his helmet. What a thoroughly sad bit of news.

  21. bobrjlphotography - Jun 16, 2014 at 7:58 PM

    I was very fortunate to have met Tony, on a number of occasions, when I was still an active photographer in San Diego. He always made me feel like my time was just as important as his. As a baseball player, he had it all. I knew him, as a guy who loved helping make people happy. The world is a poorer place without him in it.

    Tony Gwynn (1960-2014)

  22. courtjester1234 - Jun 16, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    We all know his stats and what a great hitter\fielder he was. He was also a really nice guy and a great competitor. It’s sad to see the good ones go so early. May this be a warning to anyone who still uses tobacco in any form. Cancer doesn’t give 2cents what you have done or who it affects. In fact anyone who reads this HAS had someone stolen from them by cancer. Cancer is like a fan. One side it sucks the other side blows

  23. bornahawker - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    Remember the story about Tony studying upcoming pitchers on the airplanes on the way to visiting parks? Nobody EVER worked harder!

  24. renaado - Jun 17, 2014 at 12:34 AM

    RIP Tony… You’ll always be remembered.

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