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*Tony Gwynn was born on this date in 1960. He was a Black professional baseball player.
Anthony Keith "Tony" Gwynn, Sr. was born in Los Angeles, California to Charles and Vandella Gwynn. He grew up in Long Beach with older brother Charles, who became a teacher, and younger brother Chris, who also became an MLB player. Gwynn's father worked and he also coached Pop Warner football and Little League Baseball; his mother worked full time on a second shift.
His parents instilled in him the value of being prepared. He filled his time playing mostly basketball, which was his favorite sport. Gwynn went to Los Angeles Dodgers games and watched his hero, Willie Davis. Gwynn admired Davis for being black, left-handed, and "aggressive but under control". As a youth he checked the box scores in the newspaper every morning to follow high average hitters Pete Rose, George Brett, and Rod Carew.
Gwynn attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School before arriving at SDSU in 1977 as a highly recruited basketball point guard. He did not play baseball his first year in order to concentrate on basketball. He joined the Aztecs baseball team in 1979 when then-freshman shortstop Bobby Meacham, who knew Gwynn from his high school days, convinced SDSU baseball coach Jim Dietz to give Gwynn a chance to compete. Gwynn became a two-sport star, playing three seasons of baseball and four of basketball.
In baseball, he was primarily a left fielder and designated hitter at San Diego State. In 1980, Gwynn hit .423 with six home runs and 29 runs batted in (RBIs) and was named third-team All-American by Baseball News. The next season, he was a first-team All-American after batting .416 with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs. He was also named a first-team all-WAC outfielder. Playing basketball, Gwynn set the Aztecs basketball record for assists in a game, season, and career. He was twice named to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) basketball all-conference Second Team, and he averaged 8.8 points per game his senior year. Playing point guard developed his baseball skills, as the dribbling strengthened his wrists—avoiding what he called "slow bat syndrome"—and his quickness improved his base running.
Gwynn was a 15-time All-Star, voted 11 times by fans to be a starter. He retired in 2001 with 3,141 hits and a career batting average of .338. In 1997, SDSU's baseball facility, Smith Stadium, was extensively renovated with $4 million from Padres owner John Moores. At Moores's request, the stadium was renamed Tony Gwynn Stadium. He was inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame in 2002, and the team retired his No. 19 in 2004. In 2007 he was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame along with Cal Ripkin. That same year a bronze statue of Gwynn was unveiled in the park just beyond Petco Park's outfield. A plaque on the front reads: "Tony Gwynn, Mr. Padre." At the base on the back is a quote from his father: "If you work hard, good things will happen." Gwynn was married to Alicia Gwynn, and was the father of R&B artist Anisha Nicole and major league outfielder Tony Gwynn, Jr.,
The New York Times called Gwynn "arguably the best pure hitter of his generation". The four consecutive NL batting titles he won starting in 1994 had not been matched since Hornsby won six straight beginning in 1920. Gwynn is the only major leaguer to win four batting titles each in two separate decades. Six times he led the NL in both batting average and hits. Tony Gwynn died on June 16, 2014, after battling salivary gland cancer.
The Associated Press
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