Major League Baseball lost a legend on Monday with San Diego Padres icon Tony Gwynn passing away at the age of 54 from cancer.
Barry Bloom of MLB.com first reported Gwynn's passing, and MLB confirmed shortly after.
Tony Gwynn has died, his agent John Boggs just told me. It was the phone call I've been dreading. God bless, Mr. Padre. I love you. @Padres— Barry M. Bloom (@Boomskie) June 16, 2014
Tony Gwynn Jr. also spoke about his father's passing on his Twitter account:
Today I lost my Dad, my best friend and my mentor. I'm gonna miss u so much pops. I'm gonna do everything in my power to continue to...— Tony Gwynn Jr. (@tonygwynnjr) June 16, 2014
Make u proud!— Tony Gwynn Jr. (@tonygwynnjr) June 16, 2014
Love u pops!— Tony Gwynn Jr. (@tonygwynnjr) June 16, 2014
Gwynn spent 20 years in the big leagues, all of them with the Padres, and ended his career in 2001 as one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. He finished his MLB tenure with 3,141 hits, a .338 batting average and an incredible 790-434 walk-to-strikeout total in 9,288 at-bats.
In addition to those staggering career numbers, Gwynn is tied with Honus Wagner for the second-most batting titles with eight in his career. He won three straight from 1987 to 1989 and four straight from 1994 to 1997. His .394 average in 1994 is the closest anyone has come to breaking the .400 barrier since Ted Williams did it in 1941.
Commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement, while ESPN Stats & Info provided additional perspective on Gwynn's playing career:
Statement from Commissioner Selig on the passing of Tony Gwynn: pic.twitter.com/s78o7n6GW2— MLB Public Relations (@MLB_PR) June 16, 2014
Tony Gwynn hit .300 in 18 consecutive seasons from 1983 to 2000. Only Ty Cobb (23 straight) had a longer such streak.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 16, 2014
After retiring from the big leagues, Gwynn was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Cal Ripken in 2007. He also coached his alma mater San Diego State, where the stadium is named after him, from 2003 until his death.
Gwynn's legacy in Major League Baseball has continued with son Tony Gwynn Jr. playing in his eighth professional season. The younger Gwynn recently told Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia that his father is his best friend and he cherishes being able to talk to him.
"I always try to get in an I love you," Gwynn Jr. said. "For a while that was uncomfortable for me, I don’t know why. But since 2010, it hasn’t been uncomfortable. It's something I want to make sure I get in because you never know what’s going to happen."
Gwynn was first diagnosed with cancer of a salivary gland in 2010. He missed a lot of time in the dugout for San Diego State this season going through cancer treatment and trying to regain his strength, according to Kirk Kenney of U-T San Diego.
The baseball world mourns the loss of a great player and great man. There wasn't a better hitter in the game when Gwynn was in his prime, and there may not have been a better one since.