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Baseball great, Tony Gwynn, was born Anthony Keith Gwynn on May 9, 1960 in Los Angeles, California. Tony Gwynn is a former right fielder in Major League Baseball, statistically one of the best and most consistent hitters in baseball history. He played his entire 20-year career (1982–2001) for the San Diego Padres. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 9, 2007 and was inducted on July 29. He is the first National League player born during the 1960s to earn the honor, Kirby Puckett was the first American Leaguer.
Despite playing much of his career at a "power position" during a time when home runs were at an all-time high, he was not a home run threat, never hitting more than 17 in any one season during his major league career. Instead, Tony Gwynn made a name for himself by being one of the most consistent contact hitters in the game's history. He struck out only 434 times in 9,288 career at-bats, and never batted below .309 in any full season, although he hit .289 in his rookie season.
Tony Gwynn was selected by the Padres in the third round of the 1981 MLB draft (the 58th player chosen overall). He threw and batted left-handed. His uniform number was #19, which the Padres retired in 2004.
In honor of Gwynn's long service to the Padres and the community, the address of the Padres' ballpark, PETCO Park, is 19 Tony Gwynn Drive.
Tony Gwynn is currently the head baseball coach at San Diego State University, his alma mater, and until recently was a part-time analyst for ESPN. He has recently been recruited as a Yahoo! Sports expert analyst. He often sits in with Matt Vasgersian and Mark Grant (another former Padre) for play-by-play during Padres games on San Diego's Channel 4. Gwynn has also been hired to help broadcast postseason games on TBS.
His son, Tony Gwynn, Jr., plays center field in the Milwaukee Brewers organization and has played at the Major League level several times.
At SDSU, Gwynn was not only an acclaimed baseball player, but also a standout point guard on the Aztecs' basketball team, setting a school record for assists. The same day the Padres drafted him, Gwynn was also selected by the San Diego Clippers in the 10th round of the National Basketball Association draft, but he elected to play baseball instead.
Gwynn was noted for constantly studying his swing, always looking for ways to improve his hitting. He used a relatively small Louisville Slugger bat (model #B276C) measuring 33 inches and weighing just 30 1/2-ounces, far smaller than those of his contemporary, five-time American League batting champion Wade Boggs, who used Louisville Slugger's #B439 model. Gwynn began using the smaller bats while playing his first season of professional ball for San Diego's A-level Walla Walla Padres minor league club in 1981 because he was having trouble adapting to wood bats and wanted something of a similar weight to the aluminum bats he used in college.
Even though Gwynn was batting .360 at the time, he felt that the larger bats were hampering him because he had to choke up so far — and his first major league hit was July 19 against the Philadelphia Phillies, was a double. In the aftermath, Phillies first baseman Pete Rose, at the time second in career hits and aware of how well Gwynn hit in the minors, came up to the new Padre and told him, "Don't pass me in one game." The 1982 season would be the only one of Gwynn's career in which he would hit below .300.
After a winter ball wrist injury, Gwynn struggled in the second half of 1983, sinking as low as .229 by July 29. It was then that he began using video recording to review his at-bats. He heated up to a .309 average for his shortened season; he would only hit that low again once, in 1990. Gwynn's breakthrough season was 1984, when he hit .351 and won the first batting title of his illustrious career. That season, the Padres won the first National League pennant in team history, defeating the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series before losing the World Series to the Detroit Tigers. Gwynn batted .368 in the NLCS, but was less effective in the World Series, in which he made the final out by flying out to Tigers left fielder Larry Herndon.
Gwynn was also a good baserunner prior to gaining weight in his later years. In 1987, he tied an NL record with five stolen bases in a game, and he had 319 steals in his career. He became proficient with a glove for most of his career, winning five Gold Glove Awards from 1986 to 1991 despite playing much of his career with knee problems. Over time, his left knee became the more troublesome, and Gwynn has had several operations on both to halt the deterioration of the joints. Today, he uses a combination of hot and cold wraps, topical ointments, and medication called Celadrin to give him relief.
Primarily a right fielder as of 1984, in 1989 Gwynn split time between right field and center fields, while winning his third Gold Glove.
In 1994 Gwynn batted .394, the highest batting average in the National League since Bill Terry hit .401 in 1930 and the highest in the majors since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. Had the season not been shortened by a strike, Gwynn would have had the chance to become the first batter to eclipse the magical .400 mark in more than 50 years; of course, several players have hit .400 for four months, only to fade. In the end, Gwynn fell three hits short of the .400 mark in the shortened season.
In 1997, Tony Gwynn reached career highs with 17 home runs and 119 runs batted in. The next season, Gwynn batted .321 and helped the Padres win their second pennant, as they defeated the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves in the playoffs. However, the Padres lost the World Series to the New York Yankees in a four-game sweep, despite Gwynn's home run in the opening game, and his overall batting average of .500 in the Series.
Gwynn is an eight-time National League batting champion, leading the league in 1984, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997, which ties him with the Pittsburgh Pirates' Honus Wagner for the league record — the all-time Major League batting titles leader is Ty Cobb, who won 11 American League batting titles. He is also a 15-time All-Star, and was voted as a starter by the fans in 11 of the games.
In 1999, while still active as one of baseball's best hitters, he ranked Number 49 on The Sporting News'' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Despite adding to his career statistics for two more seasons until his retirement, when TSN updated their list for 2005, Gwynn had fallen to Number 57.
Gwynn retired in 2001 with a total of 3,141 hits and a lifetime batting average of .338. His career average is the highest among players whose careers began after World War II, and fourth-highest among players whose career was entirely within the live-ball era (only Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, and Bill Terry have higher averages in that time). He played his entire career with one team, a rarity in any era, and is considered by many to be the best player to ever wear a Padres jersey.
Since his retirement, Gwynn has worked as a color commentator for ESPN and is currently the head baseball coach at his alma mater, San Diego State University. In 1997, Smith Stadium, the school's baseball facility, was extensively renovated. Padre owner John Moores financed the estimated $ 4 million project, and at Moores's request, it was renamed Tony Gwynn Stadium. Gwynn currently splits his time between his homes in Poway, California (San Diego) and Fishers, Indiana (Indianapolis).
Gwynn's brother, Chris, was an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals, and San Diego Padres (1987-96) .
Gwynn is the father of R&B artist Anisha Nicole and major league outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., whose major league debut (with the Milwaukee Brewers) and first major league hit on July 19, 2006 came exactly 24 years to the day of his father's first major league hit — both Gwynns hit doubles.
On July 21, 2007, a 10 foot statue of Tony Gwynn was unveiled outside PETCO Park.
On January 9, 2007, Tony Gwynn was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, being selected on 532 out of 545 ballots (97.61%), seventh highest percentage in Hall of Fame voting history, and just thirteen votes short of a unanimous selection. Gwynn was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Cal Ripken, Jr. on July 29, 2007. Both were elected in their first year of eligibility.
At the time of his induction, Gwynn was the only member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who was never a teammate of another Baseball Hall-of-Famer. This changed in the following year's election, when Rich "Goose" Gossage, Tony's teammate from 1984 to 1987, was elected.
On July 29, 2007, Gwynn along with Cal Ripken Jr was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ripken and Gwynn are 2 out of 46 players in the Hall of Fame to play for only one team. The Gwynn-Ripken induction weekend was notable for a number of attendance records, which were announced during the ceremony. 14,000 people visited the Hall of Fame Museum on July 28, a record number for a single-day. Baseball attendance for all games played on July 28 also set a single-day record. The induction ceremony also had the greatest collection of living Hall-of-Famers, 53, present for a ceremony. A record crowd, estimated at 75,000, attended the induction ceremony, breaking the previous record of 25,000 in 1999.