This is terrible news: Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has died at 54.
Gwynn had been fighting cancer, which had first manifested itself as a malignant growth inside his right cheek, for four years. Gwynn attributed the cancer to years of smokeless tobacco use. Just yesterday, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com wrote this story about Gwynn, his son Tony Gwynn, Jr. and their relationship as Gwynn battled cancer. Gwynn Jr. said it had gotten tougher of late, and that his father’s condition had deteriorated.
Gwynn was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. He posted a .338 career batting average over 20 seasons, collecting batting titles in eight of those years. In 1994 he was flirting with .400 when the season was halted due to the strike, leaving him at .394. He finished with 3,141 hits, which ranks 19th on the all-time list. He was an All-Star 15 times and won five gold gloves. His Padres teams made the playoffs three times in his career. He was part of NL Pennant winning teams in 1984 and 1998.
[MORE: What they’re saying about Tony Gwynn]
After he retired, Gwynn coached his alma mater, San Diego State University. Many future major leaguers went through that program during Gwynn’s tenure which lasted from 2003 until his death.
Gwynn was elected to the Hall of Fame with over 97% of the vote in 2007, his first year of eligibility. His number 19 jersey was retired by the Padres, the only team for which he played.
[MORE: Gwynn’s Hall of Fame career, by the numbers]
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.