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Gwynn's Career Filled With Highlights

A Look At Some Of His Biggest Moments

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 29: A detail view of 2007 inductee Tony Gwynn's plaque during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 29, 2007 at Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

    Tony Gwynn had 3,141 career hits, all of them in a Padres uniform. Gary Templeton, Dave Winfield and Gene Richards (the next three players on the Padres all-time hits list), had 3,263 hits combined.

    Gywnn's first knock came on July 1st, 1982, against the Phillies and Sid Monge, with all-time hits leader Pete Rose on the field.

    "Double to left-center," Gwynn recounted later. "Pete trails the play. There's a flash on the board that says 'First Big-League Hit.' Pete shakes my hand, says congratulations, starts to trot back to first, stops, turns around and says, 'Don't try to catch me in one night, kid.'"

    Had it not been for bad knees, Mr. Padres just might have tracked down Charlie Hustle. Once Gwynn started hitting, he never stopped. His 1,000th hit came just 6 years later, off fellow Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.

    Gwynn needed less than 7 full seasons to become the Padres all-time hits leader, and he was just getting warmed up.

    His 1,500th hit came in 1988, against Montreal's Steve Fry. His 2,000th hit just 3 years later against Bruce Ruffin of the Rockies. You could time Tony's milestones like a metronome. Every two-to-three years, he took another step towards history.

    In 1994, Gwynn was hitting .394 when the season was canceled because of labor unrest. He missed his chance to hit .400, having to settle for the highest single-season average in the National League since Bill Terry hit .401 for the Giants.

    The 1930 New York Giants.

    In August of 1999, in Montreal, Gwynn became the 22nd member of the 3,000 hit club. Only 6 men have joined him since.

    But, Gwynn's landmark hits were not even the biggest moments of his career. In the 1984 NLCS, Steve Garvey hit a big home run in Game 4 to prolong the series, but Gwynn got the double in Game 5 that won the series.

    In the 1998 World Series, the Padres were swept by the Yankees, but Tony Gwynn hit .500.

    Gwynn was elected to 15 All-Star games and, to prove he was a complete ballplayer, won five Gold Glove Awards.

    The Padres legend finished his 20-year run with a .338 batting average. That's 18th-best in history, but the highest for any player who began his career after World War II. For that, his final milestone came on July 29 of 2007, when Tony Gwynn took his rightful place in the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

    There is one more note to make about the very, very beginning of Tony Gwynn's career. He was drafted by the Padres in 1981 and signed his first professional contract with the Padres on June 16 of that year.

    That's exactly 33 years to the day of his passing.