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.

 

 

MLBbros Are Gunning For An All-Star LA Blackout

MLBbros Are Gunning For An All-Star LA Blackout

Since the debut of the first Black player in the MLB, Jackie Robinson, there have been several notable Black All-Stars. Rickey Henderson, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, and Frank Thomas are just a few of the well-deserving Black players who have achieved this great feat.

The 2022 MLB season is still in its early stages, but if the early indicators are any sure signs, we may have a plethora of new Black All-Stars. 

 

MLBbros Bound for L.A.

The first quarter of the season is hardly a large enough sample size to predict All Star rosters. With MLB rules stating that every team must be represented at the All-Star game, this helps us to broaden our perspective for potential All Star players. MLBbros Byron Buxton, JP Crawford, and Jazz Chisholm are the best candidates to represent the Black players in Los Angeles, the home of the 2022 MLB All Star game.

Byron Buxton: I mentioned earlier in the season that if Byron Buxton could remain healthy, he would be a hot topic in the MVP conversation. While a knee injury did result in him missing almost two weeks of playing time, he has since come back on a tear.

Through 16 games Buxton is batting .290 with 7 HR. Not to mention since his return to the lineup the Twins have been winning more consistently, winning eight out of their last ten games.

Byron Buxton Is One Healthy Season Away From MLBbro Supremacy | Minnesota Twins Five-Tool Talent Is A Leading MVP Candidate

 

J.P. Crawford: The Seattle Mariners shortstop is having a career season. He is batting .364 and has improved dramatically at the plate this season. Fresh off a 5 year/ $51 million contract extension, Crawford has rewarded Seattle with his best season to date.

Although he has not been the defensive superstar that he was years prior, his body of work (Gold Glove 2020) shows he can return to being an elite defender. If he can maintain his improved batting and return to top tier defense, he will undoubtedly be Seattle’s All-Star representative.

JP Crawford Is Transforming, Elevating| He’s The Total Package

 

Jazz Chisholm: After injuries slowed down what was an overall promising year in 2021, the Miami Marlins 2nd baseman Jazz Chisholm has started strong once again. Chisholm is still providing excellent defense on the field and tremendous speed on the basepaths.

He already has three triples on the year, which is one shy of his previous year’s total of four. With four HRs also and a .329 batting average, Chisholm is proving to be one of the best all-around young players in the sport.

 

MLBbros on All-Star Watch

 

 

There are also some MLBbros who are on the All-Star radar and can boost their chances with strong performances in May and June. Josh Bell and George Springer are both having good seasons for their respective clubs.

MLBbro Josh Bell, while not a household name, is on fire batting an impressive .349 and is top five in the National League in Batting Average and Hits. In his seventh year, Bell is putting together the best season since his 2019 All-Star season.

George Springer is no stranger to the All-Star game, as he has already made three appearances. Yet, he has not been an All-Star since 2019. He is finding success early in his first year with his new team: the Toronto Blue Jays. If he can continue being an offensive catalyst at the top of their lineup, and the Blue Jays continue their success, there is a good chance that Springer makes his fourth All-Star appearance in Los Angeles. 

 

 

The All-Star game in baseball is one of the most competitive All-Star games in professional sports. Both leagues fight for supremacy and the game is fun and compelling. If these MLBbros continue to excel through the summer months of the season, they will earn themselves an opportunity to shine on one of the biggest stages the sport can offer.

Tony Gwynn Had More Hits Than Drake | The Master Technician, The Last Of His Kind

Never Forget | Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn Was A Hoops Star Too

By Devon POV Mason | MLBbro.com Contributor 

 

Tony Gwynn was a two-sport athlete growing up in California. The young talent mastered the crafts of baseball and basketball. The teenager that would one day go on to rewrite the book on modern era hitting, attended Long Beach Polytechnic, which was a high-profile and very competitive school for sports.

Gwynn starred on both the basketball and baseball teams.

His individual success couldn’t hide the fact that the baseball and basketball teams were moving in opposite directions during his final two years of high school.

The basketball team went 53-8, while the baseball team went 3-25-2 during his junior and senior years.

Gwynn considered quitting baseball and focusing solely on basketball, but his mom talked him out of it. It turned out to be a life-saver for Gwynn and the storied history of Major League Baseball.

 

 

A  gaping chapter would be missing in Baseball’s Bible if Gwynn decided to drop the diamond and hit the hardwood full time.

Coming out of high school, Gwynn received multiple basketball scholarship offers, but none for baseball. He eventually signed with the San Diego State Aztecs with the opportunity to play both baseball and basketball.

In college he played four years of basketball and three years of baseball.

 

 

Although he was a two-time All-American in baseball, believe it or not, he was even better on the court. He set multiple school records for assists playing the point guard position. He was named All-WAC Second Team twice as a member of the basketball team.

Ultimately Gwynn made the right decision to focus solely on baseball after his four-year hoops commitment to the Aztec program was completed.

He may have had an NBA career if he put the same focus and diligence into hoops as he did into constructing his rise to baseball immortality.

 

 

In the end, both sports contributed to his Hall of Fame destination. Playing basketball helped Gwynn’s baseball skills out a lot as far as his agility and developing quick hands.

Gwynn spent 20 seasons in the majors playing for the Padres, he was selected by San Diego in the 1981 MLB Draft. He only spent one season in the minor leagues and made his debut during the 1982 season. He appeared in 54 games and finished with a .289 batting average. It was a solid rookie season with numbers that paled in comparison to the prolific hit totals Gwynn would amass in the future.

By 1984, Gwynn had San Diego in the World Series.

 

 

In his third season, Gwynn broke out and put MLB on notice. He made his first All-Star team and won his first Silver Slugger award.

Never a power hitter, Gwynn knew how to get on base and was one of the first players to utilize video to study his own hitting tendencies and that of opposing pitchers and used that to his advantage.

Looking at his career, he never had a full season where he didn’t bat over .300. He was the model of consistency and that’s why the National League Batting crown is named after the eight-time batting champ.

From 1984-1997 it was pretty much Gwynn and then everybody else when it came to diligence, technical hitting prowess and patience at the plate.

Baseball is a sport where many don’t have success, and especially for the length of time that Gwynn did. His baseball career was long and glorious, but his life was cvut short. Gwynn passed away at the age of 54 after battling cancer for years.

 

 

During his career he made 15 All-Star teams, and at one point he made 11 consecutive.

He finished his illustrious Hall of Fame career with an impressive .338 batting average, 3,141 hits, 135 home runs and 1,138 RBIs. The stats say it all.

Point blank and period “Mr. Padre” was a “Pros Pro” and a “Professional Hitter.”