On June 16, 2014, San Diego Padres fans and baseball diehards were gutted to hear that Tony Gwynn passed away at the age of 54 after a battle with salivary gland cancer.
The pain of Gwynn's loss stung then, and it still lingers a full six years later. With tributes pouring in, we look back at the tremendous career of "Mr. Padre" and one of the best hitters of the 20th century.
Back in 1981, the Padres took a shot on a San Diego State Aztecs outfielder in Gwynn by selecting him in the third round of the MLB Draft. That moved turned out to be a tremendous decision by the organization, because they drafted the face of their franchise.
Gwynn made his official major league debut in 1982, but never participated in a full season until 1984. That year, Gwynn clinched the National League batting title by leading the league in batting average (.351) and hits (213). His hitting prowess helped lead the Padres to an NL West division title and an NL pennant, before the team fell in five games to the Detroit Tigers in that year's World Series. After that campaign, a legend was born.
In his 20 years with the Padres, Gwynn appeared in a staggering 15 All-Star Games and won seven Silver Slugger awards, and five Gold Gloves. Additionally, he earned eight batting titles in his career, which is the second-most all-time behind Ty Cobb (12).
Statistics-wise, Gwynn slashed .338/.388/.459, while notching 135 home runs and 1,138 RBI for his career. He's also one of 32 players to join the 3,000 hit club (3,141). After retiring in 2001, Gwynn received enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, his very first year on the ballot.
Gwynn may not be with us anymore, but his extraordinary play will live on in our memories forever.