San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died Monday. He was 54 years old.
The San Diego Padres, for whom Gwynn played his entire 20-year big league career, announced the sad news Monday.
"There are no words to express what Tony means to this organization and this community," the Padres said in a statement. More than just Mr. Padre, Tony was Mr. San Diego. He cared deeply about our city and had a profound impact on our community. He forever will be remembered not only for his tremendous on-field accomplishments, but also for his infectious laugh, warm, outgoing personality and huge heart. On behalf of Padres fans everywhere, we mourn the loss of a friend, a teammate and a legend."
Gwynn had battled salivary gland cancer, the result of his longtime use of chewing tobacco. He had surgery to remove a malignant tumor in 2009 and again in 2012.
A career .338 hitter, Gwynn was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, having been selected on 97.6 percent of ballots. He won eight National League batting titles and earned 15 All-Star selections.
Gwynn batted better than .350 seven times, including a career-best .394 during the strike-shortened 1994 season. He never hit below .309 in a full season and finished his career with 3,141 hits.
"For more than 30 years, Tony Gwynn was a source of universal goodwill in the National Pastime, and he will be deeply missed by the many people he touched," said baseball commissioner Bud Selig in a statement. "On behalf of all of our clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Tony's wife Alicia, their son Tony Jr. of the Phillies, their daughter Anisha, the Padres franchise, his fans in San Diego and his many admirers throughout baseball."
Gwynn helped the Padres to a pair of World Series appearances -- first in 1984 and again in 1998. He was 8-for-16 during the four-game sweep by the Yankees in '98.
After his playing career ended in 2001, Gwynn returned to his alma mater at San Diego State and was the head baseball coach since 2003. He had been on medical leave since March and had just signed a contract extension with the Aztecs last week.