San Diego loses yet another sports legend

In the span of 25 months, San Diego loses three of its biggest sports icons. Seau’s death shocked us, Coleman’s passing reminded San Diegans that the greatest generation is fading away, but Tony Gwynn is gone? A town short on sports heroes just lost its biggest one.

“I still remember watching him prepare for games on an every day basis. And, now that I’ve had my own experience playing, you appreciate it that much more,” recounted Gwynn’s son, Anthony Gwynn, Jr.

Tony Gywnn, Jr. was recorded last Thursday smiling, masking the sense of loss he must certainly knew was coming. When asked what he thought the best lesson his father had ever taught him – about life and baseball – was, Gwynn Jr. replied:

“Whatever you put into whatever it is you’re doing work-wise is what you’ll get out of it.”

Anthony, the son of a legend, tweeted Monday morning:

“Today I lost my dad, my best friend and my mentor. I’m going to miss you so much pops, I’m going to do everything in my power to continue to make you proud. Love you pops.”

Long-time Padres play-by-play man Ted Leitner shared his thoughts Monday morning on ESPN:

“What San Diego’s going through it again – they did it with Junior Seau, they did it with my late broadcast partner Jerry Coleman, and now with Tony… this is a lot of pain to deal with; it’s not going to be easy.”

In San Diego, Tony Gwynn was thought to be one of the community’s own – turns out, the rest of the world thought so too.

“Very few people are as associated with one town as Tony was,” said George F. Will, author of Men At Work: the Craft of Baseball. “Tony in San Diego, Cal Ripken in Baltimore, Chipper Jones in Atlanta – there still are some people who play their entire careers, Hall of Fame careers, with one team and that’s worth remembering.”

“I wore the brown and gold. I wore the blue and orange. And I didn’t get a chance to wear the sand and… whatever color blue you want to call that,” stated Gwynn. “But, I’m proud as heck to be a San Diego Padre. I played for one team. I played in one town. I told the people of San Diego when I left to come to Cooperstown, they’re going to be standing up here with me. It was 20 years, and we had a blast. I had a blast. I truly enjoyed it. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun if you hadn’t been as supportive as you were. So, I say thank you.”

Gwynn is survived by his wife and two children, and untold millions of baseball fans who will always remember the crack of his bat and his signature laugh in equal proportions.

Categories: Tony Gwynn: 1960-2014