Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn Could Have Pursued an NBA Career, but Made the Right Choice with Baseball

The San Diego Padres had one of the best players in the MLB, and his name was Tony Gwynn. The Hall of Famer spent his entire career playing for the Padres. The right fielder finished with one of the best careers in MLB history.

He won numerous individual awards and was named to many All-Star teams. Gwynn grew up playing multiple sports, and he could have pursued a basketball career if he wanted. But baseball worked out for him.

Tony Gwynn, one of the best in the game of baseball

Gwynn spent 20 years in the MLB playing for the Padres. The Padres selected him in the third round of the 1981 draft. He only spent one season in the minor leagues and made his debut during the 1982 season. He appeared in 54 games and finished with a .289 batting average. In his third season, Gwynn had a breakout season as he made his first All-Star team and won his first Silver Slugger award.

Gwynn was not a power hitter, but he knew how to get on base and used that to his advantage. Looking at his career, he only had one season where he did not bat over .300, and that was his first season in the league, which wasn’t a full season for him. He was an exceptional hitter who was very patient at the plate. No matter what the count was, Gwynn had confidence at the plate and made the necessary adjustments to put himself in a good position to get on base.

Not too many people have success in baseball; it’s a tough sport. What made Gwynn stand out as one of the best was his consistency each season. He continued to put in countless hours to work on his game, and it paid off for him. During his career, he played in the All-Star game 15 times, and there was a point where he made 11 straight All-Star teams. He finished his career with an impressive .338 batting average with 3,141 hits, 135 home runs, and 1,138 RBIs. Those are some stats that you do not often see in baseball.

Tony Gwynn grew up excelling in multiple sports

Growing up in California, Gwynn focused on playing two sports, baseball and basketball. In high school, he attended Long Beach Polytechnic, which was a high-profile school in sports. Gwynn starred on both the basketball and baseball team. Though he had success as an individual, the baseball and basketball team had opposite seasons during Gwynn’s final two years.

His high school basketball team finished with a 53-8 record while the baseball team went 3-25-2 in Gwynn’s final two years of high school. Gwynn thought about quitting baseball, but his mom talked him out of it. He received multiple scholarships offers to play basketball in college, but no baseball scholarships were knocking on his door. Gwynn would eventually sign with San Diego State University and have the opportunity to play baseball and basketball.

Tony Gwynn starred on the basketball court at San Diego State

In college, Gwynn played four years of basketball and three years of baseball. Though he was a two-time All-American in baseball, he played at a high-level on the court. He set multiple school records for assists playing the point guard position. Gwynn was named to the All-WAC Second Team twice as a member of the basketball team, and he handled the point guard duties well.

Ultimately, Gwynn made the right decision to focus on baseball. There could have been an NBA career waiting for him if he wanted to focus more on the sport. But playing basketball helped Gwynn’s baseball game out a lot as far as his quickness and developing quick hands. Gwynn is one of the greatest athletes to come out of San Diego State and one of the best baseball players to play in the MLB.