Hall of Fame Baseball Player Tony Gwynn Dies; Son Plays for Phillies

Hall of Fame hitter Tony Gwynn, who hit .346 against the Phillies in his career, lost a long battle with cancer.

Tony Gwynn, a Hall of Famer who’s generally considered the best pure hitter since Ted Williams, died after a long battle with cancer in his salivary gland and cheek. He was 54. His son, Tony Gwynn Jr., is a bench player for the Phillies.

Gwynn was the player who got closest to hitting the mythical .400 mark since Ted Williams’ .406 in 1941. Gwynn hit .394 in the strike-shortened 1994 season and .372 in 1996. He played his entire 20-year career with the San Diego Padres and struck out just 434 times. He had been head baseball coach as his alma mater, San Diego State University, since 2003.

Gwynn batted .346 in 677 at-bats against the Phillies in his career, and played in 91 games at the old Veterans Stadium. In 1991, he hit into a triple play against the Phillies.

(If Randy Ready had tagged Tony Fernandez, it would have been an unassisted triple play.)

Comcast SportsNet’s Jim Salisbury wrote about Phillies outfielder Gwynn Jr.’s relationship with his father on Sunday. “When there’s down time, I’m usually thinking about my dad,” Gwynn Jr. said.

It is believed, though not confirmed by doctors, that Gwynn developed cancer through his usage of chewing tobacco during his playing career.