Ripken on Gwynn: “This is an extraordinarily sad day”

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The baseball world mourns the loss of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who died today at age 54 following a courageous battle with cancer.

Gwynn was inducted on the same day as Cal Ripken Jr. in 2007.

“This is an extraordinarily sad day,” Ripken said in a statement. “Tony was a Hall of Fame ballplayer, but more importantly he was a wonderful man. Tony always had a big smile on his face and was one of the warmest and most genuine people I have ever had the honor of knowing. Like all baseball fans, I will miss him very much and my thoughts are with his family today.”

Gwynn collected 3,141 hits in 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres from 1982-2001, compiling a career .338 batting average - 18th best all-time - in 2,440 games. The 15-time All-Star won eight batting titles and five Gold Glove Awards.

Here’s my favorite Gwynn statistic: He struck out only 434 times in 9,288 career at-bats. Think about that for a minute.

“Tony will be remembered in baseball circles for his hitting acumen, as evidenced by a lofty .338 lifetime batting average and an astonishing eight National League batting titles,” said Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “But it was his infectious laugh, ever-present smile and humble disposition that made Mr. Padre a favorite in San Diego and an endearing figure to a nation of baseball fans who marveled at his career accolades and celebrated his 2007 induction into the Hall of Fame in record numbers.”

Commissioner Bud Selig issued the following statement:

“Major League Baseball today mourns the tragic loss of Tony Gwynn, the greatest Padre ever and one of the most accomplished hitters that our game has ever known, whose all-around excellence on the field was surpassed by his exuberant personality and genial disposition in life. Tony was synonymous with San Diego Padres baseball, and with his .338 career batting average and eight batting titles, he led his beloved ballclub to its greatest heights, including two National League pennants.

“Tony loved our game, the city of San Diego and his alma mater where he starred and coached, San Diego State University, and he was a part of a wonderful baseball family. His commitment to the children of San Diego made him a deserving recipient of our game’s highest off-field honor, the Roberto Clemente Award, in 1999.

“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. 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.”

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