Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn dies of cancer at 54


Tony Gwynn, who banged out 3,141 hits during a Hall of Fame career spanning 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, has died of cancer at age 54, it was announced Monday.

The lefty-swinging Gwynn, nicknamed Mr. Padre, had a career .338 batting average, won eight National League batting titles and played in the franchise’s only two World Series.

He died early Monday morning at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, California, while surrounded by his family, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced.

“Major League Baseball today mourns the tragic loss of Tony Gwynn,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement Monday. “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.

“… 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.”

Survivors include his wife, Alicia, daughter, Anisha, and son, Tony Jr., who plays with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Gwynn had been signed to a one-year contract extension as the baseball coach at San Diego State on Wednesday. He had been on medical leave since late March while recovering from cancer treatment. He took over the program at his alma mater after the 2002 season.

He had two operations for cancer in his right cheek between August 2010 and February 2012. The second surgery was complicated, with surgeons removing a facial nerve because it was intertwined with a tumor inside his right cheek. They grafted a nerve from Gwynn’s neck to help him eventually regain facial movement.

Gwynn had said that he believed the cancer was from chewing tobacco.

In a rarity in pro sports, Gwynn spent his entire 20-year career with the Padres, choosing to stay rather than leaving for bigger paychecks elsewhere. His terrific hand-eye coordination made him one of the game’s greatest contact hitters. He excelled at hitting singles the other way, through the “5.5 hole” between third base and shortstop.

He was a 15-time All-Star and reached the coveted 200-hit mark in a season five times, and his .338 career average was 18th-best all time.

Gwynn hit safely in 1,838 games — which amount to 75.3 percent of those in which he played. In addition, Gwynn had 951 multihit games, reached hitting streaks of at least 10 games on 33 different occasions and had only 34 multistrikeout games. In fact, he had only one career game with three or more strikeouts.

“I’ll remember the cackle to his laugh. He was always laughing, always talking, always happy,” said San Francisco Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery, who was both a teammate and a coach of Gwynn. “The baseball world is going to miss one of the greats, and the world itself is going to miss one of the great men of mankind. He cared so much for other people. He had a work ethic unlike anybody else, and had a childlike demeanor of playing the game just because he loved it so much.”

Gwynn batted .300 in each of his last 19 seasons, an MLB streak second only to Ty Cobb’s.

Gwynn was inducted into the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2007. His No. 19 was retired by the Padres in 2004.

“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,” Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement. “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.”

Kawhi Leonard (@kawhi_leonard) named Finals MVP


Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard was named Finals MVP as the Spurs captured their fifth title in franchise history by defeating the Heat 104-87at the AT&T Center on Sunday.


The 22-year-old small forward was quiet in Games 1 and 2, but he took over the rest of the way, keying three straight Spurs victories to clinch the Finals series in five games.

“Right now it’s just surreal to me,” Leonard said. ” I had a great group of guys behind me, just pushing me, just wanting me to just be aggressive in the game … “

Leonard, a 2011 first-round pick, was showered with “M-V-P” chants by the home crowd throughout Game 5.

After pouring in 29 points in Game 3 and 20 points in Game 4, Leonard was masterful again on Sunday, hitting a big momentum three-pointer with a little less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter to give San Antonio its first lead of the game. He would finish with a team-high 22 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in Game 5 on Sunday. Leonard, a 2014 All-Defensive Second Team selection, also played superb defense on four-time NBA MVP LeBron James throughout the series.

The Spurs, led by Duncan and coached by Gregg Popovich, previously won titles in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. Duncan was named Finals MVP in 1999, 2003, and 2005, while Tony Parker took home the honors in 2007.

“They just told me I gotta keep being aggressive every night for us to win this series,” Leonard said, referring to the Spurs’ Big Three of Parker, Duncan and Ginobli. ” They all pushed me, coach Pop pushed me, the fans pushed me and I just want to thank God and my parents and everybody.”

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