TONY GWYNN—A Tribute to a Hall-of-Fame Human Being
By Todd Durkin
Greatness. Humility. Student-of-the-game. Character. Integrity. Family-man. Infectious smile. Incredible laugh. Passion. Genuine.
These were just some of the words used to describe Tony Gwynn yesterday at his private Memorial Service yesterday on the campus at San Diego State University. It was a “celebration of life” for one of the classiest, most amazing human beings and best baseball players of all-time.
I thought about these powerful words and how so many of the people that spoke at the service used these same words over-and-over again to describe “Mr. Padre.” And they were from all walks of life.
Here are a few excerpts from just some of Tony’s closest friends, teammates, family members, and dignitaries that shared their thoughts:
John Boggs (friend/agent for 30+ years):
When John Boggs spoke, he talked about Tony’s love for his family and his passion for the game of baseball. And he talked about how Tony never said no to autographs. He loved people. He loved life. And he celebrated life everyday. #Passion
Jeff Idelson (President, Baseball Hall of Fame):
When Jeff Idelson from the Baseball Hall of Fame spoke, he spoke about how Tony was always committed to on-going learning. He said he was always learning and a “student of the game” and that he was always trying to “master his craft.”
Tony studied Ted Williams. And Jeff mentioned that when he spoke with other baseball greats, this is what they had to say about Tony Gwynn:
Dave Winfield—Tony was a “master of the game.”
Ozzie Smith—Tony had a “love for the game; he was a perfectionist.”
Cal Ripken—Tony was a “gift to baseball.”
And Jeff shared that when Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken got inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, a record 82,000 fans flocked to Cooperstown, NY to honor them.
Trevor talked about how when he came into MLB, the thing he learned the most from watching Tony, was how to be a Dad. He said Tony Sr. would just get so excited when little Tony Jr. or his daughter Anisha would show up in the clubhouse. Trevor said he learned many lessons just watching Tony love on his kids and the smile it brought him. #Love
Kruk aid he learned more about life than anything from working with Tony. They were roommates in the minors in Walla Walla, Washington, and as Tony got pulled up to the Bigs, he NEVER forgot about his friends and would always still check in on them. He kept his humility. #Humility
Coach Mark Martinez (SDSU baseball Coach):
Coach Martinez has had the opportunity to be Coach Tony Gwynn’s assistant the past 9 years. And he shared some incredible quotes that Coach Gwynn would often say:
“Do things right.”
“Do it with class.”
“Can’t play with a tight booty.”
“You’re looking for a cookie.”
“Trust your eyes. That’s why God gave them to you.”
“If you swing at shit, you are going to get shit.”
“Get ahead in the count.”
“Let’s go to work!”
And then he had his current team at SDSU sing the San Diego State fight song that Coach Gwynn made them learn and sing after victories. It gave me chills to hear them sing that song one more time.
Quite an amazing celebration and service.
The interesting thing about the service is they didn’t talk about the Tony’s stats in baseball.
.338 lifetime batting average
135 Home Runs
8 x NL Batting Champion
7x Silver Slugger
5x Gold Glove
20 years, 1 city. San Diego Padres
No one talked about that. They talked about Tony the person. The man. The father. The human being who cared for so many people and quietly served so many. The man who deflected the limelight on to others.
54 years old is too young to die. It’s a big loss to the San Diego community. It’s a big loss to the baseball world. Most of all, it’s a big loss to the Gwynn family—the one’s he loved so much.
My friends, life is short, life is precious.
In trying to put together the Word of the Week this week (our weekly “WOW”), I have to call an audible and have 2 words:
He epitomized greatness. He epitomized world-class. He epitomized IMPACT. Both on the diamond and in LIFE.
TONY GWYNN is our Word of the Week. Live this week with the same incredible principles of this great man. Smile big and laugh a lot. And love on those around you.
And remember, nothing in life is guaranteed. We must always live life to the fullest. Every. Single. Day!
TONY GWYNN… thank you for the memories. I still remember seeing you swing that bat when I was a young 12-year old kid on the East Coast watching baseball on TV.
Tony Gwynn Jr. and family… while 54 years is way too young to be taken from this earth, you guys had an amazing father who truly appreciated every single day of his life. Pops is proud of you.
I will end with this. Legacy. It’s something we are all going to leave behind.
What does your legacy say? What is your life all about? What do you want to be remembered for?
TONY GWYNN’s legacy is going to last for many, many generations and he has inspired so many. Not only as a baseball player. But as a person as well.
Thank you Tony for not only showing us what it takes to be one of the best baseball players of all time, but even more importantly, for showing us the dedication, discipline, passion, grit, work-ethic, and love for life that it takes to be a HALL OF FAME human-being.
You are loved by many. Thank you Tony Gwynn.
Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS, is an internationally recognized performance coach, trainer, bodyworker, author and speaker who motivates, educates and inspires people worldwide. He is the owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, lead training advisor for Under Armour, and the author of The IMPACT! Body Plan, a 10week program designed to create world-class fitness and life performance.