Back in the day, San Diego Magazine writer Ron Donoho had the idea to get a hitting lesson from Padres legend Tony Gwynn. Needless to say, it didn’t go well.
“He was like, ‘I hate your swing,’ Donoho remembers. “I had somebody all set up to take some live pitching, but he wouldn’t even let me get that far.”
What he did was give Donoho his undivided attention for as long as it took – a trait so many people remember about the man they called “Mr. Padre.”
“He stood in the batting cage and made me take swings off the tee,” Donoho said. “He held my tape recorder. What pros would do that? He hung around for more than 3 hours for the piece.”
That was Donoho’s personal remembrance of Gwynn. He was one of the San Diego Magazine contributors who compiled other heartfelt memories of Gwynn from executives, coaches, players, media and fans in a 10-page spread in this month’s issue, titled “Remembering Mr. Padre."
It includes memories from players like Cal Ripken, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with Gwynn in 2007. It also includes a Padres fan who lived in San Francisco and would go see Gwynn every time the Padres were in town.
The memories are spliced with classic photos from his career and life as well as a “scorecard” that highlights the best stats of his career.
"We wanted to give fans a place to pay tribute to him alongside all the VIPs,” Editor Erin Chambers Smith said. “And you know what's cool? The memories and sentiments are very similar, whether from a major leaguer or a little kid. He treated everyone the same. It was an honor for our staff to work on this."
It also pays tribute by making every page in the issue number 19 – a little tricky if you want to navigate the mag, but we’ll let it slide.
Donoho’s favorite contribution was from former Padres president and current Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino.
“I appreciate that he called from Boston,” Donoho said. “I always liked him. He’s a smart guy.”
The issue hit newsstands this week. Or you can just read the digital version.
Of course, NBC 7’s tributes to Gwynn are the best around, in our completely unbiased opinion.