POWAY, CA – 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 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, Calif., while surrounded by his family, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced.
He had been signed to a one-year contract extension as the baseball coach at San Diego State on June 11. 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.
Gwynn, nicknamed “Mr. Padre” for his service to both the team and the city, 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.”
He hit safely in 75 percent of the games in which he played during his career, and he batted .300 in each of his last 19 seasons, a streak second only to Ty Cobb.
His .338 career average was 18th-best all-time.
Gwynn, along with Cal Ripken Jr., was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot in January 2007, named on 532 of 545 votes cast (97.6 percent). He was also honored with the 1995 Branch Rickey Award, the 1998 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award and the 1999 Roberto Clemente Award.
He also was named to 15 All-Star teams, won seven Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards. His eight batting titles tied for second-most in MLB history.