SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 14: Former San Diego Padre great Tony Gwynn waves to the fans during a pre-game ceremony before a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park on June 14, 2013 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
The world of baseball mourned San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn Monday, remembering the Hall of Famer for the mark he left both on and off the field.
Gwynn, who played for the Padres for 20 seasons from 1982 to 2001, died at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, California on Monday after a long battle with cancer. Within minutes of the announcement of Gwynn’s death, “RIP Tony Gwynn” began trending on Twitter, with fans, sports reporters, and MLB players voicing their heartfelt loss.
“Can’t believe Mr. Padre is gone," Anthony Bass, a Houston Astros pitcher who played for the Padres from 2008 to 2012, tweeted. "Being a round him in SD will always be an ever-lasting memory of mine. God bless you Tony Gwynn."
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig praised Gwynn as the "greatest Padre ever and one of the most accomplished hitters that our game has ever known," but added that the baseball legend's "all-around excellence on the field was surpassed by his exuberant personality and genial disposition in life.”
“For more than 30 years, Tony Gwynn was a source of universal goodwill in the National Pastime, and he will be deeply missed by the many people he touched," he said in a statement.
The 15-time All- Star's impressive batting average — the league's 18th best of all time — 3,141 career hits, eight batting titles, five Gold Glove Awards and induction into the MLB Hall of Fame in 2007 will remain his legacy.
But those who knew him say it was his character that was most unforgettable.
“Great player and an even better man," Sean Salisbury, a Yahoo Sports radio show host, said. "Impacted my family. He could hit .320 with a broom.”
Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said while Gwynn will "be remembered in baseball circles for his batting prowess, "it was his infectious laugh, ever-present smile and humble disposition that made Mr. Padre a favorite in San Diego and an endearing figure to a nation of baseball fans who marveled at his career accolades and celebrated his 2007 induction into the Hall of Fame in record numbers."
Padre infielder Yonder Alonso recalled the batting guidance Gwynn would generously share, tweeting about how the two "talked hitting every time I saw him. Questions after questions."
"A true friend...May he RIP," he tweeted.
We talked hitting every time I saw him.Questions after questions.A true friend. So sad to hear the passing of Tony Gwynn. May he RIP.
— Yonder Alonso (@YonderalonsoU) June 16, 2014
Can't believe Mr.Padre is gone. Being around him in SD will always be an ever-lasting memory of mine. God bless you Tony Gwynn.
— Anthony Bass (@AnthonyBass45) June 16, 2014
— Raj Mathai (@rajmathai) June 16, 2014