Happy Birthday Tony Gwynn: The Greatest Hitter That Everyone Forgot About

Happy Birthday Tony Gwynn: The Greatest Hitter That Everyone Forgot About

What if the incomparable 20-year career of hit machine Tony Gwynn never happened?

What if this site stated that basketball was his first love in high school and it took his mother’s convincing to keep him on the diamond?

Want a real shocker?

Tony Gwynn went to San Diego State on a basketball scholarship and wasn’t selected in the MLB draft in 1977.

After keeping his promise to his mother and playing baseball in college, he was drafted in the third round by the San Diego Padres in 1981 and the rest is history.

 

There have always been players that can hit the ball exceptionally well — and then there’s Tony Gwynn, a technician who totally understood the assignment of impacting a game in the batter’s box, even before his Hall of Fame baseball career took place.

“I had no idea that all the things in my career were going to happen. I sure didn’t see it. I just know the good Lord blessed me with ability, blessed me with good eyesight and a good pair of hands, and then I worked at the rest.”

That’s putting it mildly. Good luck finding players of this era who match Gwynn’s eye and ability to reach base by spraying the ball all over the field.

Gwynn, a 15-time All-Star (11 time starter) finished with 3,141 hits with a career batting average of .338. In the bright lights of the World Series, he was amazing hitting .371.

Gwynn’s eight NL batting titles tied him for the league record with Honus Wagner and second all time to Ty Cobb’s 12. When he didn’t win overall, he sure spent time near the top of the list. He was in the top 10 in league average for 15 consecutive seasons.

But it’s his connection to Ted Williams that defines Tony Gwynn’s legacy in MLB’s hitting Mount Rushmore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owk7AOxF-rQ.

According to baseball historians, Ted Williams is considered the greatest pure hitter in modern baseball. He’s still the last player to hit .400 in a season. His .406 batting average still holds to this day. Despite Rod Carew hitting .388 one season and George Brett finishing at .390 in 1980, no other player commanded the attention of baseball fans late into the season like Tony Gwynn did.

In one of the bigger “What Ifs?” in MLB history, while our MLBbro icon was chasing the magical .400 mark, the players association proposed a work stoppage in August. In his last series before the walkout, Tony Gwynn finished three hits short of .400, a number no one has come close to since.

 

Despite not eclipsing Williams’ mark, this MLBbro icon is definitely sitting at the table with the greatest hitters of all time. Gwynn owns five of the 14 highest batting averages since that .406 season back in 1941.

He is the only player since World War II to have seven seasons of batting over .350 (including five straight!) and to win four batting titles in two separate decades.

In 2007, Tony Gwynn was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot.

Sadly in 2014, the MLBbro icon passed from mouth cancer. But even in death, Mr. Padre made an impact even larger than his 20 years on the field.

Due to his habit of using smokeless tobacco — which contributed to his declining health — this tragedy provided awareness about the dangers of tobacco. So much so that MLB pushed for a ban in CBA talks at the time via CBS Sports.

“MLB pushed for a ban at the bargaining table at the last CBA talks, and while only one-third of MLB players use the stuff, it was said to be one of the last things to resolve on the table. A ban realistically never had much hope.”

“MLB is said by people involved in the talks to actually have ‘pushed very hard’ for the banning of smokeless tobacco in those discussions…”

“With a nod to the concept of MLB players as role models, the players did agree to a program to promote quitting, to keep usage discreet and to mandate spring mouth screenings. But smokeless tobacco, while banned at the minor league level, remains legal in the majors provided the can or tin isn’t visible.

“If it is visible, warnings and finings were laid out.”

Over time, smokeless tobacco, which was as much a staple to baseball as a bat or glove, has virtually disappeared from the game as we know it today. A legacy that probably means more to Tony Gwynn than any of his encyclopedia filled batting records he owns.

This past week was Tony Gwynn’s birthday on June 16th, MLBro.com wishes a happy birthday and continued Rest In Power to the greatest pure hitter of his generation and one of the greatest batting technicians of all time.

 

 

Former NFL Wide Receiver Golden Tate Wants Two-Way Smoke With The Golden Sombrero

Former NFL Wide Receiver Golden Tate Wants Two-Way Smoke With The Golden Sombrero

Former NFL wide receiver Golden Tate may be done making plays on a football field, but he’s looking to extend his athletic career within our national pastime. Earlier this week, Golden signed a contract with the Port Angeles Lefties of the West Coast League.

Former MLB pitcher Jeff Samardzija is normally the name that people mention when referencing recent two-way athletes from the University of Notre Dame, but Tate was another member of the fighting Irish who made a name for himself on the diamond as well as the gridiron.

After only appearing in 18 games his freshman year, Golden racked up 73 hits in 55 games as a sophomore. He hit .329 with eight doubles and 4 triples while driving in 21 for Notre Dame and was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 50th round of the 2010 MLB draft, his second time coming off the draft board (He was taken in the 42nd round out of high school in 2007).

 

 

Tate will start in centerfield for the Lefties and is excited about the opportunity to revive his baseball career. 

“I am extremely thankful to the West Coast League and the Port Angeles Lefties for allowing me to join their league,” Tate said in a statement. “As some might know, I was drafted twice in baseball. As a child, my first love was baseball, so I’m excited about the opportunity to compete against some of the best young players in the league. I look forward to having a lot of fun and exploring baseball more.”

Tate is probably the most notable football player to take baseball seriously since Tim Tebow, and we all remember how that turned out. Only time will tell if Golden’s long-shot MLB dreams are legit, but if he’s able to dust off the cleats and eventually make it to The Show, he’ll join a special group of elite athletes who have played both professional football and baseball.

Tate is highly unlikely to join the ranks of Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders or Brian Jordan, but he’s already accomplished something special by being drafted in both leagues. Here are a few other recent Black NFL players who hold this distinction. Unfortunately, each player mentioned chose football over baseball, something that we’ve seen far too often over the past 30 years.

Russell Wilson

Russell was drafted in the 41st round out of high school in 2007 by Baltimore, and again in 2010 when the Colorado Rockies made him a 4th round selection.

 

Colin Kaepernick

Kap was selected in the 43rd round by the Chicago Cubs in 2009. 

Jameis Winston 

Winston was a 15th round pick out of high school by the Texas Rangers in 2012.

Shaq Thompson 

Shaq was drafted in the 18th round by the Boston Red Sox in 2012.

Kyler Murray 

Turned down $9M bonus from Oakland A’s to chase Heisman dreams at Oklahoma.

Is All That Jazz Too Much For The Marlins? | Perception Carries More Weight In The Marlins Clubhouse Than Performance

Is All That Jazz Too Much For The Marlins? | Perception Carries More Weight In The Marlins Clubhouse Than Performance

With offbeat personalities and a penchant for improvisation, Jazz musicians have been misunderstood for decades despite creating music which stands the test of time.  Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk left a body of work that has matured over the years, creating fans of all generations. The Miami Marlins already have their choice of the new generation, but it seems some in the organization have tuned out.

Jazz Chisholm has been Don Mattingly’s best player and the only reason worth watching the Marlins over the first quarter of the season. He’s the Bleek Gilliam from Spike Lee’s “Mo Better Blues” of baseball these days. However, after last week’s well -chronicled, 90-minute, private team only conversation, it’s clear that perception carries more weight in the Marlins clubhouse than  performance.

There’s something to be said when a team is struggling and they call a meeting to air grievances.  It’s another thing altogether when the most productive player is at the epicenter of the controversy. In this case, when parts of the team don’t fit, that has more to do with management than the employee.

Chisholm is balling out for Mattingly, but his teammates are clearly hating on him.  He’s the only reason to watch anything going in the National League East division’s bad fish isle. When fish goes bad, it stinks, which is why they are struggling to stay out of last place. 

Jazz was reportedly criticized by his teammates for bringing more attention to himself in an hour-and-a-half session to purge the Marlins of what ails them. Mattingly reportedly was – at the very least – concerned about the team talking privately about Chisholm behind his back, so he brokered the meeting to clear the air.  

It appears the underachieving overpaid 30 somethings who have stolen money under Donny Baseball’s watch don’t get the style of a new generation in Miami.  John Heyman of the New York Post reported that “teammates apparently aren’t always as enamored as fans who love the style and sizzle.”

Heyman also reports that some in the generationally divided clubhouse see Chisholm as a “Dennis Rodman”- type character who is constantly bringing attention to himself, which doesn’t endear him.  However, Rodman is a Hall of Famer who won five NBA titles and is considered by many as the greatest rebounder in NBA history. So if that’s the case, Chisholm could be the fish that saves baseball in south Florida. Baseball needs some attention in Broward County and a player with all that Jazz should be a perfect fit. 

Miami won four straight games after the meeting and suddenly all is wonderful in Crockett and Tubbs’ old neighborhood — at least temporarily. The success is, however, misleading because they “own” the Washington Nationals and caught the Houston Astros in the midst of a slump.

These are no longer the days of romance and reverence that defined the game of yesteryear.  Fans are not returning to the ballpark in droves following the shutdown of the pandemic. Young fans aren’t developing a reverence for the game that created a base to sustain itself as an entertainment product for years to come. Jazz Chisholm is a five-tool player who has must-see talent and should be appreciated.  He can turn the masses of fans dressed as empty seats into paying customers who buy overpriced concessions at the stadium if the Marlins franchise catches his vibe.