Tony Gwynn

Position: Outfielder
Team: San Diego Padres, 1982-2001

It is unlikely that many major-league pitchers felt fear when Tony Gwynn came to the plate, wielding his tiny bat. While Gwynn wasn't likely to evoke oohs and ahhs with tape-measure home runs, he was quite likely to plop or punch a single into the outfield with a perfectly timed and deadly efficient swing. In fact, when Gwynn was elected to the Hall of Fame, he spoke about exactly that, saying he was "the Punch-and-Judy spokesman."

After turning 33 in 1993, Gwynn posted consecutive averages of .358, .394, .368, .353, and .372.
After turning 33 in 1993, Gwynn posted
consecutive averages of .358, .394,
.368, .353, and .372.

Born in Los Angeles in 1960 and raised in Long Beach, Anthony Keith Gwynn was always one of those guys who made his teammates better. He starred in basketball at San Diego State, racking up high assist totals, before being drafted by the San Diego Padres and the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers.

As a big-leaguer, Gywnn built himself a Hall of Fame career with his little bat, deep concentration, and a never-ceasing study of the game. When he retired, he had won eight batting titles, tying the legendary Honus Wagner for most in National League history. Only Ty Cobb has won more.

In 1997, Gwynn won his fourth consecutive league batting crown, making him one of just five batters to accomplish the feat. But as mentioned, power was not his thing. Of his 3,141 hits, 2,378 were singles. Only eight players have ever hit more singles than that. Moreover, only Cobb and Nap Lajoie reached the 3,000-hit mark in fewer at bats.

Tony's lifetime batting average of .338 is the highest career average by anyone who began to play in the big leagues after World War II. Gwynn's .394 average in 1994 (even though it was a strike-shortened season) was the highest average since Ted Williams's .406 43 years earlier. In his six postseason series, Gwynn brought home a .306 average. In his two appearances in the World Series, he swatted a resounding .371, even though his team lost both times.

Gwynn's roundish physique made him look less like an athlete than a favorite baker, but he was an intelligent player who used his speed effectively. He stole more than 30 bases four times, and he reached ten triples four times, too. His apparent lack of speed didn't prevent him from winning five Gold Gloves.

Gwynn is one of those rare players to spend his entire career with one club. In his 20 years with the Padres, he made 15 All-Star teams. Gwynn was elected to the Hall in 2007 -- the first year he was eligible. Commissioner Bud Selig commented on the choice of Tony and classmate Cal Ripken: "They represented the sport as well as it could be represented."

Here are Tony Gwynn's major league totals:


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