It's still a shock to think how young Padres great Tony Gwynn was when he died — the MLB Hall of Famer, who lost a battle with cancer in 2014, would have been 62 years old on Monday.
The folks at Petco Park on Monday night will be honoring the greatest player to ever wear the Padres uniform. Highlights include the right-fielder's wife, Alicia, throwing out the first pitch at 6:30, when San Diego's boys of summer face off against the visiting Chicago Cubs. On the receiving end of that first pitch will be the couple's son, Tony Jr., who, of course, has long been one of the voices of the Padres on the radio. Singing the national anthem will be his sister, who performs under the moniker Anisha Nicole.
The Padres aren't alone in celebrating Gwynn Sr.'s storied career. Major League Baseball dropped its Top 10 Tony Gwynn Moments on Sunday, led by:
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- Gwynn's Hall of Fame induction, in July 2007. Mr. Padre received a monstrous 97.6% of the vote. "Gwynn and [fellow inductee Cal Ripken Jr.] drew the largest crowd in the event's history — a remarkable 82,000 people to celebrate two of the game's all-time greats"
- The HOV ceremony was followed by — no big surprise — Gwynn's 3,000th hit. The day was Aug. 6, 1999, a moment still unduplicated by any other Padre. MLB.com notes it was the same day on the calendar that he hit his 2,000th — which is also his mom's birthday
- A few years earlier, in 1994 — hard to call this one a "moment" — Gwynn flirted, heavily, with a .400 batting average for the season. Sadly, the season was cut short in mid-August by a strike, so we'll never really know if he would have accomplished what nobody has since Ted Williams (a San Diego native -- and Hoover High alum) hit .406 way back in 1941. Gwynn ended the stats that year hitting .394, a name shared with one of our favorite local brews.
Fans in attendance for Monday's game — the first 35,000, anyway — will be going home with free Tony Gwynn shirts. There were still plenty of seats available as of 1 p.m. on Monday.
Also on Monday, team officials unveiled the Tony Gwynn Community All-Star Program, which will recognize and honor "local San Diego youth that embody Gwynn’s dedication to supporting their local community." The program is accepting applications from local students 18 and under who are involved with local nonprofits supporting underserved segments of San Diego. The four applicants who are selected will each receive "a $5,000 grant awarded to their organization in the winner’s name." The deadline to enter is June 4.