Hall of Famer and one of the greatest Major League Baseball hitters of all time, Tony Gwynn, passed away on Monday. He was 54.
“Tony Gwynn has died, his agent John Boggs just told me,” tweeted longtime baseball journalist Barry Bloom on Monday. “It was the phone call I’ve been dreading. God bless, Mr. Padre. I love you. @Padres”
Gwynn had been battling cancer, which he first discovered as a malignant growth inside his right cheek in 2010, according to NBC Sports. Gwynn had attributed the cancer to years of using chewing tobacco during his legendary baseball career.
The longtime rightfielder for the San Diego Padres was revered as one of the best contact hitters in baseball history, seemingly hitting every pitch thrown in his wheelhouse. Gwynn posted a .338 career batting average in over 20 seasons and earned batting titles in eight of those campaigns. He finished his career in 2001 with 3,141 hits, which ranks 19th on the all-time list. He also had 15 All-Star appearances and five gold gloves. Gwynn also famously flirted with hitting .400 in 1994, before the season prematurely ended due to the baseball strike. He finished that year with a .394 average. In 2007, Gwynn was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility by an astounding 97% of the vote.
Just this past Father’s Day Sunday, a story posted on CSNPhilly.com shared the bond between Tony Gwynn Jr., an outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, and his dad, detailing Gwynn Sr.’s deteriorating health stemming from a four-year battle with cancer in his salivary gland.
“This has been the hardest of the four years he’s fought it, by far,” Tony Jr. said in the story. “When I left for spring training he was in a good spot, and now he’s not in that same spot, so from that standpoint I guess it has worsened. But in the big scheme of things, which is getting healthy so he can do the things he wants to do, I see light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t say that he does, but then again he’s the one going through this, and it’s tough on him.”
Gwynn is survived by his wife, Alicia, who he met in high school, son Tony Jr. and daughter Anisha Nicole.
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(Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)