News

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn dead at 54

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn dead at 54

TONY GWYNN:San Diego Padres’ Tony Gwynn warms up in the outfield prior to the game against the Chicago Cubs at night, Saturday, August 6, 1994 in Chicago. Photo: Associated Press/Fred Jewell

(Reuters) – Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, one of the greatest hitters of his generation, has died at the age of 54 after a battle with cancer, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum said on Monday.

Gwynn, a San Diego native who played his entire career with the San Diego Padres, died early on Monday morning at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, California, surrounded by his family, the museum in Cooperstown, New York, said in a statement.

Gwynn, who had two operations for cancer in his right cheek, had signed an extension this month to continue working as baseball coach at San Diego State University, according to ESPN. He had been on medical leave since late March while recovering from cancer treatment.

PHOTOS: 2014 Notable Deaths

The man nicknamed “Mr. Padre,” who took over the program at his alma mater after the 2002 season, had said he believed the cancer was from chewing tobacco, a habit he shared with many major leaguers.

The sweet-swinging lefthanded hitting outfielder amassed 3,141 hits over 20 seasons, compiling a career batting average of .338 that is 18th best all-time. He also claimed a record-tying eight National League batting titles.

A 15-time All-Star, Gwynn also won five Gold Glove Awards in recognition of his defensive skills and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007 in his first year of eligibility.

Gwynn, a rare hometown player who thrived in the majors with his local team, was a key member of the 1984 and 1998 San Diego Padres National League pennant-winning teams that reached the World Series and he batted .371 in the Fall Classic.

“He was beloved by so many … for his kindness, graciousness and passion for the game,” said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board of the Hall of Fame. “Tony was one of baseball history’s most consistent hitters and most affable personalities.”

Gwynn’s Hall of Fame plaque called him “an artisan with the bat.”

“Major League Baseball today mourns the tragic loss of Tony Gwynn, the greatest Padre ever and one of the most accomplished hitters that our game has ever known,” Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.

Gwynn’s career-high .394 average during the strike-shortened 1994 season remains the highest to lead either league since fellow San Diegan Ted Williams batted .406 for the Red Sox in 1941.

Gwynn, whose No. 19 was retired by the Padres in 2004, was inducted into the Hall of Fame along with another first-ballot member, former Baltimore Orioles infielder Cal Ripken Jr.

“This is an extraordinarily sad day,” Ripken said in a statement.

“Tony always had a big smile on his face and was one of the warmest and most genuine people I have ever had the honor of knowing.”

The San Diego Padres tweeted: “We are terribly sad to say goodbye to our teammate, our friend and a legend, Tony Gwynn. Rest in peace, Mr. Padre.”

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner and Larry Fine in New York; editing by Eric Beech, David Gregorio and Matthew Lewis)

Recent Headlines

6 hours ago in Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘How To Be Single’ feels the same while trying too hard to be different

22-overlay-9

"How to Be Single" makes a valiant attempt to send up rom-com clichés but it borrows so much from other, better movies that you start to wonder if the film’s title should be "How to Commit Larceny."

7 hours ago in Music

Charles Kelley is a dad

charleskelleycassiekelley

The "Need You Now" singer and his wife Cassie McConnell Kelley welcomed son Ward Charles Kelley on Thursday.

8 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Star Wars’ producers face charges in Harrison Ford’s on-set accident

18-overlay-7

The "Indiana Jones" star broke his leg when the door of the Millennium Falcon fell on him during filming in 2014.

12 hours ago in Entertainment

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ headed for Broadway debut

mockingbird

Harper Lee's classic novel is coming to Broadway for the first time in a new stage version written by "West Wing" writer Aaron Sorkin.

13 hours ago in Entertainment

Charlize Theron gearing up for ‘Fast 8’

charlizetheron

The "Mad Max: Fury Road" star is in early talks to play the villain in the eighth installment of the hugely successful street racing series.