Tony Gwynn, who died at 54 after a bout with cancer, was nicknamed Mr. Padre, after the two decades he spent with the San Diego MLB team as well as the exemplary attitude he brought with him on and off the field.
Finishing his career tied for second with Honus Wagner in the race for most batting titles — Gwynn and Wagner finished with eight apiece, second only to Ty Cobb’s twelve – Mr. Padre was one of the steadiest hitters in the history of the game, finishing each season above .309 from the plate. He was a first-year inductee into the Hall of Fame, and had his number retired by the Padres.
A lifetime resident of California, Gywnn returned to San Diego State as a coach once his playing days had concluded, and while New York’s Derek Jeter is occasionally cited as the moral barometer of Major League Baseball, in that if he was ever caught using steroids the image of the league would crumble irreparably, Gywnn could’ve held that title just as easily, assuming he was in the media capital of the country instead of Jeets.
Mr. Padre, who maintained that his cancer was likely caused by his chewing tobacco use in a 2010 talk with ESPN, would end up going zero for two on baseball’s biggest stage, as the San Diego team would lose their only two World Series appearances to the Detroit Tigers and the Yankees. Over his career, he would have eight operations on his knees, out of thirteen total.