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Hall of Fame Baseball player Tony Gwynn passes away at 54 – SportsUntapped.com
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Added June 17th, 2014 by Ian

Hall of Fame Baseball player Tony Gwynn passes away at 54
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The baseball fraternity lost one of its greatest ever hitters on June 16 when former San Diego Padres slugger Tony Gwynn passed away from cancer at the age of 54. The Major League Baseball Hall of Famer ranks number 19 on the league’s all-time hit list with a total of 3,141 during his esteemed 20-year career, which was all spent with the Padres. Gwynn had a career batting average of .338 and won the National League batting title on eight occasions When he became eligible for the Hall of fame ballot in 2007 Gwynn received 97.6 per cent of possible votes.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig released a statement, “His all-around excellence on the field was surpassed by his exuberant personality and genial disposition in life. Tony was synonymous with San Diego Padres baseball and led his beloved club to its greatest heights, including two National League pennants. Tony loved our game and the city of San Diego. His commitment to the children of San Diego made him a deserving recipient of our game’s highest off-field honor, the Roberto Clemente Award, in 1999.”

Gwynn, who hailed from Long Beach, California, was known as Mr. Padre and almost chose a basketball career over baseball. He played both sports at San Diego State University and was actually drafted into the NBA and MLB on the very same day back in 1981. Gwynn, who was a point guard on the basketball court, still owns some San Diego State University records. He still holds the school mark for the most assists in a single game with 18, a season at 221, and in a career with 590. He attended the university on a basketball scholarship and joined the basketball program during his second year.

On June 10 of 1981, the San Diego Clippers selected Gwynn in the 10th round of the NBA Draft and the Padres chose him in the third round of the MLB Draft with the seventh overall pick. Gwynn was already a Major League Baseball player by the time the next season rolled around though as he decided to pursue a pro career in baseball. He became a regular in 1984 and helped lead San Diego to the World Series that autumn. However, they failed to win the title, but Gwynn finished in third place in the voting for the MVP that season.

Gwynn’s batting average was a remarkable .394 in 1994 and it appeared he would be the first player to reach the magical .400 mark since Ted Williams achieved it in 1941. However, the MLB season ended prematurely when the players went on strike and the World Series was canceled. Williams, a native of San Diego, was good friends with Gwynn and often told the press that if anybody could hit .400 it would be Gwynn.

When Gwynn retired from baseball he returned to San Diego State University and spent a dozen years coaching at his former school. The university announced just a week before he passed away that Gwynn had signed a contract extension until 2015. Gwynn’s health problems began several years ago and he underwent three operations in 2010 to remove tumors for salivary-gland cancer.

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