San Diego remembers citizen Gwynn

The angle to the Tony Gwynn story certainly doesn’t fit in any box score. After hearing what people who met him off the field had to say Monday, it’s clear the memory of citizen Gwynn will outlive his records. The business of running the city paused Monday morning to pay homage to one man. “Before I begin, I want to offer the City Council’s sincerest condolences to Alicia and the entire Gwynn family,” said Council President Todd Gloria.

San Diego’s favorite son and Padres baseball great Tony Gwynn, honored by city leaders, but not for the way he hit a baseball.

“(Gwynn) transcends the sport, right? I mean, he is the embodiment of our city – of just a good guy, doing good things. Someone who stayed here his entire career, who stayed here after his retirement and gave back to the university where he learned.”

Everywhere on Monday, community leaders were talking about his loyalty to the place he called home: San Diego.

“Tony was a class act all the way around,” said City Councilmember Scott Sherman. “In today’s helter-skelter high-dollar sports world, you see a lot of players who bounce between teams. There’s no loyalty to home teams, that kind of thing. And you look at Tony’s sheet, and it’s clear: San Diego, all the way.”

The team Gwynn called his own opened the ballpark Monday to allow waves of people to walk in and see the statue, including the mayor.

“And it’s not so much what he did on the field, which was obviously legendary, but the reason we’re seeing this upward support is because Tony Gwynn was, as a person, the man. And how he represented and how he loved this city,” stated Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Not only his neighbors noticed; it seemed wherever he went, gentleman Gwynn made the same impression. Forbes Magazine writer David Seideman published a column Monday entitled “How Tony Gwynn’s Happiness Helped Save Baseball”. In a phone interview, Seideman had this to say about the late great Mr. Padre:

“What shocked me today was that I actually found the clip from 20 years ago, and I hadn’t realized I had interviewed that night Jose Canseco, Kirby Puckett, Mike Piazza – you know, some of the greatest players within the last 25 years. And the only one that I remember is Tony Gwynn because he was so kind to me.”

But no one on Monday has told a story that more poignantly reveals the soul of the man than a nameless, faceless single mom in Poway. Identifying herself only as ‘Teri’, she wrote to KUSI when she heard the news:

“I was buying school clothes and shoes. I was short on cash. I told the kids we had to put them back. The man behind me said, ‘Not today.’ I turned around and there was Tony himself. He smiled and said the shoes were on him.”

Teri went on to write “Tony” as she called him – no doubt, at his insistence – took a knee and spent time talking to her children about paying the favor forward. To read the full Forbes article on Tony Gwynn, visit http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidseideman/2014/06/16/how-tony-gwynns-happiness-helped-save-baseball/ 

Categories: Tony Gwynn: 1960-2014