Near the end of the ceremony for the unveiling of the Tony Gwynn statue in Poway Tuesday, it came time for Tony's son, Anthony Keith "Tony" Gwynn Jr., to speak.
With hundreds of people focused on Tony Jr., he stood at the podium and before any words came out, out came the tears. An emotional Tony Jr. cried, then slowly composed himself. Flanked by his mother and sister, they comforted him. About 45 seconds passed before he found the strength to speak about his father -- his hero.
"As you can imagine this is pretty tough," said Tony Jr.
After those first words, Tony Jr. found his voice, and his love, delivering a touching tribute to his father, who would have been 57 years old Tuesday.
Tony Jr. spoke, in part, about his father's longtime career with the Padres and how he, when he was younger, couldn't grasp why his father stayed with the team when he could've had lucrative opportunities with other MLB teams.
"I can remember, being a 17-year-old boy, and not really understanding where he was coming from on that," he said. "All I could think about was him having an opportunity to win a World Series. I'm not going to lie, I was pushing him hard to leave. I wanted him to have a chance to win a World Series."
As the years passed, and Tony Jr. experienced his own career as an MLB athlete, he realized the importance of his father's decision to stay with the Padres.
"It really didn't hit me until he got into the Hall of Fame. To have the honor to say, 'I did it one way, I did it with one team, with the team I love,' said Tony Jr. "I get it, I totally get it now."
Asked afterwards about his emotions when stepping to the podium Tony Jr. has this to say:
"When you look out and see all the love that's out here it's overwhelming at the time," he told NBC 7. "It's hard to get up there and see all these people, some have met him, some have not, and the fact that they're all here, it's overwhelming."
Shortly after Tony Jr. finished his speech, he was joined by his mother Alicia and his sister Anisha. Together with the help of sculptor Seth Vendable, the Gwynns unveiled an 11-foot-tall bronze statue in the likeness of Mr. Padre.
The statue features Gwynn in his San Diego Padres uniform, tipping his cap with one arm, while holding hs young daughter, Anisha, in the other. It stands at Lake Poway Park -- a place Gwynn often visited with his family.
Tony Jr. said the statue captures the essence of his father to the core.
"It's beautiful to see it up close and personal. To see the detail, even my dad's knuckles on his hand, it's awesome," said Tony Jr.
What the Gwynn family really likes about the statue is that it's a fitting representation of how Tony felt about family.
"When I look at it, I don't just see my dad and my sister, I see myself and my family and the entire community that's been involved in our lives," said Tony Jr.
Gwynn is a Baseball Hall of Famer, a 15-time All-Star, an 8-time batting champ. This statue, however, depicts the other side of the Padres legend: the strong family man and proud resident of Poway.
"If my dad were here he wouldn't have agreed to have it anywhere else; Poway meant so much to him," Tony Jr. added. "When they say it takes a community to grow a family, this is a prime example of it."
The Gwynn family and the City of Poway has been a partnership that has paid great dividends to all involved. Now, thanks to the Tony Gwynn statue it's a partnership that will remain for all to see for the coming future.