The great Tony Gwynn has died, and I've always been a fan of his for his hitting. Turns out it was easy to root for him as a person as well, based on the outpouring of unconditional respect and admiration of baseball writers everywhere.
From "Gwynn's career provides lasting legacy" by Joe Posnanski at NBC Sports:
When I was very young, we went to the Cleveland Museum of Art. There, I saw a woman standing in front of a painting, and she was actually crying. I don’t recall it being a sad painting. My mother leaned down to me and whispered, “See, the painting is so beautiful, it breaks her heart and makes her cry.”
This made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.
But then, I had not yet seen Tony Gwynn hit a baseball. [...]
Gwynn was also a wonderful man, full of generosity and spirit. Before the 2012 All-Star Game, I did an event with him called “The Art of Hitting.” He already knew by then that he had cancer of the salivary gland – he believed it was due to the years he spent dipping tobacco. He suffered privately, but he refused to stop living. In the years after he stopped playing, he coached at San Diego State, and he talked baseball on television, and he talked hitting with anyone who was interested. I remember Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp showed up for “The Art of Hitting” talk. Kemp said he never thought twice about it.
“Man,” he said, “if Tony Gwynn is talking hitting, I’m there.”
Here are some more great tributes from across the web:
- Thank you, Tony Gwynn, for being a true professional and an even better person (Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports)
- It's hard not to smile when remembering Gwynn (Ken Rosenthal, FoxSports)
- A superhero in the batter's box (Buster Olney, ESPN)
- Tony Gwynn was a joy to watch at the plate, and in life (Tom Verducci, SI)
- Memorable encounter with Mr. Padre (Jerry Crasnick, ESPN)
- The great Tony Gwynn will be remembered for two amazing talents (Jon Heyman, CBS Sports)
- Tony Gwynn used fear as motivation (Tom Friend, ESPN)
- In a .338 Lifetime Average, Every Day Counted (Tyler Kepner, NY times)
- The Ambassador of San Diego (Jorge Arangure Jr., Sports on Earth)