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Around the League: Baseball Remembers a Legend

Around the League: Baseball Remembers a Legend

Tony Gwynn died of cancer on Monday.

He struck out 434 times in his career.  As a 41 year old on the 2001 Padres, well past his prime, getting 112 PAs in 71 games, he struck out 9 times.  Miguel Cabrera struck out 98 times in 2012, the year he won the Triple Crown.  Only 19 guys in the last decade have had an individual season with an average higher than Mr. Padre's .338 lifetime mark.  An anecdote that made the rounds this week told of how Greg Maddux said the key to his success was changing speeds.  Hitters, he said, can't tell the difference in speed, leaving them helpless.  "Except," Maddux said, "for that [expletive] Tony Gwynn."

Yet it isn't these numbers that led to a spontaneous outpouring of love from the denizens of San Diego following his passing.  It was the way he treated the people around him, from the bat boys, to the kids he coached at SDSU, to a then unknown local sports anchor.  In an era of self important prima donnas, Tony Gwynn was a true rarity: a truly humble human being who always looked for ways to give back to those around him.

The Padres staged one the classiest tributes in recent memory to their fallen hero.  The photo above shows right field in the first home game following Gwynn's death.  Before the game, the entire team gathered around the number 19 in a moment of silence.  In the left of the photo, you can see the retired numbers above the batters eye.  As the sun set, a spotlight on #19 left it bright as the other numbers appeared grey and faded.  In the best tribute possible, the Padres won the game on pitcher's pitch slapped into center for a run-scoring single.

RIP, Mr. Padre

Tuesday

  • Let's start off with an odd one: the Athletics acquired LHP Brad Mills from the Brewers for $1.  Mills expected to move into Oakland's starting rotation.  Mills last pitched in the majors with the Angels in 2012.  So far this season, he has been excellent for Nashville with an 8-2 record and 1.56 ERA.
  • Grady Sizemore was DFA'd by the Red Sox today after hitting only .216/.288/.324 in 52 games with Boston this season.  Sizemore was signed to a $750,000 contract over the winter in an attempt to come back from injuries which derailed his once promising career.  Reports later in the week had several teams interested in bringing him in.

Wednesday

  • White Sox phenom Jose Abreu hit his 20th home run of the year in his 58th game.  Among all-time MLB rookies, only Wally Berger (51) and Mark McGwire (56) hit their 20th home run earlier.
  • The Dodgers Clayton Kershaw pitched the best game since Kerry Wood's 20K masterpiece in 1998 and may, in fact, have done him one better.  Kershaw struck out 15 on the way to a no hitter.  The only baserunner was an error on shortstop Hanley Ramirez that almost certainly should have been an out.
  • Replay controversy in Pittsburgh.  With the bases loaded, Cincinnati's Alfredo Simon hit a swinging bunt to Pirates pitcher Stolmy Pimentel.  Pimentel threw to catcher Russell Martin, forcing out Devin Mesoraco.  Open and shut, right?  Nope -- the call was appealed and the office in New York called Mesoraco safe because Russell was blocking the plate.  Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle was then ejected for arguing a replay result.  He immediately called vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre, who later admitted that the office in New York blew the call.

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  • Just a quick note that Gwynn hit .338 over his MLB career. Still stuns me to think one of the central characters in my youths baseball love affair is gone!

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    In reply to bleedblue:

    Typo. Thank you.

  • He was a great player, and a great guy. A thorn in the side of opposing pitchers for decades - but always respected.

  • Lived in San Diego in the late 80's/early 90's during my doctorate. Went to a lot of Padre games at the Murph. My best friend's father had season tickets, and for a few years the father would regularly take me to a game when he wife wasn't interested.

    Gwynn nearly always batted 3rd those years. I suppose sabermatricians would bat him 2nd, which he did on rare occasions. According to my scorecards, Gwynn stuck out only twice in the 30-odd games I attended between 89-91. Surprisingly both swinging. Once against Rick Sutcliffe, and once against Don Aase, who was a reliever at the end of his career with the Mets. I never appreciated at the time how unusual that event was.

    Two of my prized baseball possessions are a Gwynn rookie card given to me by my friend and a poster given out at the Murph to celebrate Gwynn's Gold Glove in 86, I believe. The poster has only the words "hard work in the right field". I love the play on words, and the picture is as aesthetically pleasing.

    RIP, Anthony Keith Gwynn, Sr.

  • Any thoughts on what's behind the Brad Mills "trade"? You're right, that was a strange transaction. Not even the Brewers are good enough to be giving away pitching talent for $1.

    Earlier this month, I saw him in Nashville against the Iowa Cubs and he looked very good. The only runs the Cubs got were on Brad's Garza-like throw of a bunt into the left field corner. He's a soft tossing lefty like Rusin, Wada, Jokisch, Zastr...

    Was he on some type of contract that required him to be recalled or released before end of June? Or are there future or past considerations involved?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    I think I read that if he wasn't called up by a soon approaching date than he could opt out.

    So the A's found a start or two for one dollar.

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    If Brad Mills pitches like he did in Nashville, the A's got more than a start or two. Of course, Mills could turn out to be another AAAA pitcher. Or maybe Billy Beane just pulled off another heist.

  • Hopefully, a few kids read Tony's cause of death and throw their pouches and tins of smokeless in the trash OR (better yet) never start to begin with ...

  • I hope so too. I can say chew was crazy difficult to quit and reading about his suffering was gut wrenching.

    Hopefully this story saves a few lives and then his legacy will live on.

  • McGwire had 49 hr his rookie year.

  • McGwire had 49 hr his rookie season.

  • I gotta ask this about the replay "controversy" in Mike's write up ...

    How did NY blow the call? I thought the new rule stated that the Catcher could NOT block the plate, so the runner should have been called SAFE. Obviously, I'm not understanding something here, but it won't be the last time ...

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    In reply to DropThePuck:

    It was a force play. He had to have his foot on the base to record the out. The second Martin caught the ball, the runner was out of the play so he couldn't be blocked from touching home. Blocking comes into play when the runner has to be tagged.

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