Gwynn had been fighting cancer, which had first manifested itself as a malignant growth inside his right cheek, for four years. Gwynn attributed the cancer to years of smokeless tobacco use. Just yesterday, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com wrote this story about Gwynn, his son Tony Gwynn, Jr. and their relationship as Gwynn battled cancer. Gwynn Jr. said it had gotten tougher of late, and that his father’s condition had deteriorated.
Gwynn was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. He posted a .338 career batting average over 20 seasons, collecting batting titles in eight of those years. In 1994 he was flirting with .400 when the season was halted due to the strike, leaving him at .394. He finished with 3,141 hits, which ranks 19th on the all-time list. He was an All-Star 15 times and won five gold gloves. His Padres teams made the playoffs three times in his career. He was part of NL Pennant winning teams in 1984 and 1998.
After he retired, Gwynn coached his alma mater, San Diego State University. Many future major leaguers went through that program during Gwynn’s tenure which lasted from 2003 until his death.
Gwynn was elected to the Hall of Fame with over 97% of the vote in 2007, his first year of eligibility. His number 19 jersey was retired by the Padres, the only team for which he played.