San Diegans mourned on Monday the death of Tony Gwynn, 54, the great Padres hitter and MLB Hall of Famer who had been battling cancer since 2010. Gwynn died Monday morning surrounded by family at Pomerado Hospital in Poway. He suffered from cancer of a salivary gland.
Admirers made their way all day to Gwynn’s statue at Petco Park. Chris Garcia and Edgar Bautista, two of many fans who paid their respects, recalled watching Gwynn’s home run against the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. Bautista commented on how approachable and happy Gwynn always appeared, and remembered preferring to sit in right field at Padres games.
"You'd hardly ever see him flustered," Bautista said. "It would be going to the Murph (Jack Murphy Field at Qualcomm Stadium) — $6 general admission seats in right field and being able to sit right behind Tony Gwynn."
Cornelio Zumaya and his son, Zachary, were also there. Zachary's high school graduation gift from his father, he said, was a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., for Gwynn's Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2007.
"A lot of history with the man," Cornelio said. "We met Tony a lot of times."
Gwynn was also a member of the Padres' only other World Series team in 1984. His career included 15 All Star Game appearances, eight National League batting titles, five Gold Glove awards and a lifetime .338 batting average with 3,141 hits. He was a two-sport athlete in college, and is still a record-holder for most assists in SDSU men's basketball. He was drafted by both the Padres and the NBA San Diego Clippers on the same day.
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Jan. 28, 2010 -- Jeff Moorad, CEO and lead owner of the San Diego Padres, speaks to students at California State University, San Marcos.