Tony Gwynn, MLB Hall of Famer and one of baseball's greatest hitters of all time, has died today at the age of 54 after a long battle with cancer.
Having played with the San Diego Padres for 19 years, Gwynn was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and was known for his incredible batting skills. His batting average was an impressive .338 with 3,141 hits. The baseball great was a 15-time All-Star and 8-time batting champion.
Gwynn was first diagnosed with cancer of the salivary glands in 2010, which he attributed to his longtime chewing tobacco habit. He underwent surgery for his disease in recent years, which was mostly successful, although he was not cured. The left-handed batting legend was forced to take a medical leave of absence in the spring from his coaching duties at San Diego State University, and he unfortunately never recovered.
Crediting his strong work ethic to his parents, Gwynn celebrated his mother's 64th birthday by hitting is 3,000th hit while playing against the Expos in Montreal on August 6, 1999. He had also marked her 58th with his 2,000th hit six years earlier.
Gwynn claimed his mother's approach to her postal job helped him become a hard worker, especially after seeing her get prepared for an important work test.
"She wanted to be prepared," he said. "She'd give me the test she had to take and I'd read off the streets and she'd tell me where they connect or whatever. I think it rubbed off."
Survived by his wife, Alicia Gwynn, and their children, Tony Jr., an outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, and daughter, Anisha Nicole Gwynn, a singer, Gwynn died in Poway, California. He also has two brothers, Chris, a baseball player and Charles, a teacher.
A bronze statue depicting Gwynn's un-baseball-like 215-pound frame stands tall at Petco Park with a plaque reading "Tony Gwynn, Mr. Padre."
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