Hall of Fame baseball star Tony Gwynn has died of cancer, it was announced today.
Gwynn battled the disease from 2009, but prior to that, his career in baseball was prolific.
After less than a year playing minor league ball, Tony Gwynn went on to a strong career in the major leagues, clocking 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres.
In the course of his lengthy tenure with the team, Gwynn had more than 3,100 hits, won eight National League batting titles, and played in both the Padres World Series bids.
ESPN reports of Gwynn’s legacy:
“Gwynn, nicknamed ‘Mr. Padre’ for his service to both the team and the city, was inducted into the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2007. His No. 19 was retired by the Padres in 2004… He hit safely in 75 percent of the games in which he played during his career, and he batted.300 in each of his last 19 seasons, a streak second only to Ty Cobb.”
The Padres tweeted this morning:
We are terribly sad to say goodbye to our teammate, our friend and a legend, Tony Gwynn. Rest in peace, Mr. Padre.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) June 16, 2014
MLB.com also announced the sad update, saying of Tony Gwynn’s cancer battle:
“Gwynn’s battle with cancer began in 2009 when a malignant tumor was removed from his right cheek. Gwynn claimed that the cancer in the salivary gland was the result of his longtime habit of chewing tobacco. The cancer returned twice, and in the latter part of 2012 he again began radiation treatment in an attempt to shrink the tumor.”
— MLB (@MLB) June 16, 2014
Tony Gwynn’s son, Tony Gwynn Jr., followed his father into major league baseball and plays for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Just yesterday, a Father’s Day profile of the pair ran in a local news outlet — and very sadly, the younger Gwynn spoke of his father’s illness and hope for his recovery:
“When I left for spring training he was in a good spot, and now he’s not in that same spot, so from that standpoint I guess it has worsened. But in the big scheme of things, which is getting healthy so he can do the things he wants to do, I see light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t say that he does, but then again he’s the one going through this, and it’s tough on him.”
Just one day later, the elder Gwynn had died. Asked to describe his father in the story, Gwynn Jr., 31, simply said:
“My best friend… Just a good dude.”
“He’s a fighter… He’s going to battle it out, but please keep him in your prayers.”
Gwynn was widely mourned on Twitter, where “RIP Tony Gwynn” quickly became the top trending term:
In my years covering MLB, easily the most approachable, greatest person I met was Tony Gwynn. May he rest in peace. Heartbroken.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) June 16, 2014
Tony Gwynn was 54.