Bloom: Hall of Famer Gwynn passes away at 54

From SABR member Barry M. Bloom at on June 16, 2014:

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, the greatest Padres player and arguably the best Major League hitter of the latter part of the 20th century, passed away early Monday morning at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, Calif., surrounded by his family. Gwynn, who was 54, had been battling salivary gland cancer.

Gwynn’s .338 career batting average over 20 seasons — all of them with the Padres — is the highest since Ted Williams retired from the Red Sox in 1960 with a .344 average. Gwynn’s playing career ended in 2001, and since then he had been the head baseball coach for San Diego State University, where he starred in both baseball and basketball as a collegian, and a part-time analyst on Padres telecasts.

Gwynn had been on medical leave from his head coach position at San Diego State since March and had signed a one-year extension on Wednesday.

Mr. Padre” won a record eight National League batting titles — equal to the number won by Honus Wagner — and collected 3,141 hits in his career, 19th all time. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 along with Orioles great Cal Ripken in front of an estimated 75,000 people in Cooperstown, N.Y.

“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, whose all-around excellence on the field was surpassed by his exuberant personality and genial disposition in life,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “Tony was synonymous with San Diego Padres baseball, and with his .338 career batting average and eight batting titles, he led his beloved ballclub to its greatest heights, including two National League pennants.”

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Originally published: June 17, 2014. Last Updated: June 17, 2014.