I cried when I got the news of Tony Gwynn’s passing.
Anthony Keith “Tony” Gwynn, Sr. (May 9, 1960 – June 16, 2014), nicknamed Mr. Padre, felt like a family member to me.
Thanks to my Dad, baseball has always been a part of my life. Sunday afternoons at home (and sometimes mid-week as well)… if it was baseball season, Dad had the game on TV. In fact, our family moved into San Diego county the same year Tony signed with the San Diego Padres. This is the face I think of when I think of Tony Gwynn…
Beyond his skill and confidence on the field and the amazing legacy he leaves us… I had my own personal experience with Tony. For 3 years (when I was in college and worked for a local balloon/gift company) I had the honor and privilege of delivering annual Valentine’s gifts to him, from his wife Alicia. The annual gifts looked something like what is pictured below… except the basket was packed with candy and goodies and other gifts, and always a personalized note card from his Valentine.
On year 3 of delivering this basket I called my brother and told him to meet at the balloon shop – because I had a surprise for him. He drove with me on that delivery, and got to hand off the basket to Mr. Padre himself.
From watching him on TV, my unique experience of being at his door step a couple of times, watching him at baseball games (in person) and watching him after retirement… I have to say, I just liked this guy. He felt like family.
So when I heard the news that he had salivary gland cancer I was heart-broken. I watched from a distance as he did what he could to survive. But in the end Tony lost his battle to cancer at much too young of an age, age 54.
And yesterday morning, when I saw the news of his passing, I cried. I cried like he was a family member. I cried for his kids, and his wife Alicia.
I couldn’t even bring myself to call my brother, who I know would have also been devastated by the news. I wimped out and sent him a text instead. I wouldn’t even be able to utter the words over the phone. My Tony Gwynn is gone…
Ok, I know… like the saying goes, there’s no crying in baseball. And that’s why I’ll leave you with a picture of his infectious smile. We’ll see you on the other side…
“Remember these two things: play hard and have fun.” – Tony Gwynn