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Joe Posnanski on Tony Gwynn, the artist

Jun 16, 2014, 10:08 PM EDT

Since the sad news of Tony Gwynn’s passing came down this morning, we have heard countless tidbits and anecdotes about his brilliance as a hitter. If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of them. Joe Posnanski wrote about Gwynn’s legacy and artistry in his latest piece for NBCSports.com:

See, for most Major League hitters – even the best of hitters – hitting is some brew of instinct and technique and muscle memory and something unspoken. It’s a physical act and it’s a mental act, but it isn’t generally an application of imagination. The cliché is irrepressible, you’ve heard it a million times: Nothing in sports is as difficult as hitting a baseball. The greatest hitters have reduced the difficulty to platitudes because, well, you don’t talk about batting. You DO it.

“See the ball, hit the ball,” Tony Perez used to say.

“Empty your mind,” George Brett used to say.

“You can’t think and hit at the same time,” Yogi Berra used to say.

Gwynn did, though He thought and hit at the same time. He would not empty his mind. He did not only see the ball (and hit it), he would see the pitcher preparation, see the smallest hitch or twist in his delivery, see the openings in the defense, see the ball release from the pitcher’s hand, see the way the baseball turned, see angles and lines and geometric shapes like parabolas. I once asked him how closely he noticed the defensive alignment. “If the second baseman was one inch more to the left or right,” he told me, “I knew.”

It’s a wonderful tribute. Make sure to set aside a few moments and read it.

Remembering the great Tony Gwynn

  1. buccaneerjeremy - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    Tony Gwynn was my favorite player for a number of reasons. Loyal to the end, pride in his craft, & a true love of the game & not the money. I followed his coaching career at San Diego State as well & I wish I could have at some point sat down & had a chance to talk with him as he seemed one of the few who actually made time for the fans.

    You’ll be missed Tony, God bless you & your family….Give Ted Williams our best as well, as I’m sure he was there awaiting you at the gate…..wanting to talk about the art of hitting

    • mmeyer3387 - Jun 17, 2014 at 2:42 AM

      Tony Gwynn was a special and one of a kind player. But not just because he was the best hitter of his era. Or because he played with passion that always made time for the fans. Additionally, his passion was shown with his willingness to teach others by coaching at college instead of chasing the millions that his skill could have gotten him after his retirement from the game. These are just a few examples of his unselfish attitude to help others to enjoy the game. In addition please accept my best wishes to the Gwynn family.Truly, Gwynn was special and will be missed by all.

  2. hardkor07mn - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    May you rest in peace Mr. Gwynn. You were a consummate professional and one hell of a ball player. It was truly an honor to watch you hit! God bless

  3. raysfan1 - Jun 16, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    Pos said the first thing he thought of when he heard Tony Gwynn had died was that big smile of his. Me too. I was never a Padres fan, but it was impossible to not like Tony Gwynn, the ballplayer or the person. That smile of his is a big part of why.

    The Matt Kemp anecdote also made him go up a notch or two in my book.

  4. ch0psuey - Jun 17, 2014 at 2:00 AM

    Some of us in San Diego had the opportunity to hear and watch tony talk in the San Diego 4SD booth when he was healthy years past. Let me tell you, if #19 was talking, you don’t change the channel, you listen to every word and you relish every word. Gonna miss him sorely, but will never forget him.

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