Remembering And Celebrating The Magnificent Career Of Tony Gwynn
Like most baseball fans across the globe, I took today’s news of Tony Gwynn’s death as a shock. And while I had read prior reports about his health and battle with cancer, I did not expect his life to end today.
In a fog for a few hours after, I began recalling watching my generation’s greatest hitter perform at a level I have never seen duplicated.
Gwynn was as likable as any sports star in the 1980s and 1990s. He smiled on the field, he did his job well, he was loyal to his organization – and best of all, he always worked harder with the goal of getting better.
Tonight, as I sit here, I wanted to share a few pieces of my personal collection that honors Mr. Padre. I do this with a heavy heart, but also while sporting a smile for Tony Gwynn helped shape my love for the game during my youth. And when I collected cards as a kid, and now again as a man and father of two young boys, I always try to grab cards of him for he was one of the best.
The first major league game that I ever attended was on a family vacation in 1985 to San Diego with my parents. This is the ticket stub from the game – Gwynn went 1-for-4 on the day with a double. I was 9 years old on this date – and already a Tony Gwynn fan.
When I got back into collecting baseball cards in 2008, one of the first players I decided to honor was Mr. Gwynn. I put together a pretty good-sized collection of major brand cards from his playing days – from his rookie cards of 1983 through to the end of his career.
And one year for Christmas, my wife and kids surprised me with a Tony Gwynn signed ball for my collection.
And in a collection of 100+ signed baseballs, my Gwynn ball rests on the top row of the lot alongside such greats as Nolan Ryan and Dave Winfield.
Lastly, when my family and I took a vacation to Southern California in 2012, I made going to see a Padres game a priority. And while Mr. Gwynn was obviously not playing, I certainly did my best to acknowledge and celebrate him by sporting a t-shirt with his name and jersey number on the back as I visited and had my picture taken with his statue at Petco Park.
Mr. Gwynn, I hope that you are finally resting comfortably. Please know that you have impacted not just my life, but the lives of millions and millions of baseball fans and people across this country. The joy we got by watching you play a sport we love at the highest level is something I am unable to put into words.
You may be gone now, but you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace.