Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, 54, dies after battle with cancer

Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:34pm EDT
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By Marty and Graham

SAN DIEGO(Reuters) - Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, one of the greatest hitters of his generation, died on Monday at age 54 after a battle with cancer, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum said.

Gwynn, who grew up in Long Beach, California, and played his entire major league career with the San Diego Padres after playing baseball and basketball at San Diego State University, died surrounded by family at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, California, the museum in Cooperstown, New York, said in a statement.

Gwynn, who had two operations for cancer in his right cheek and had been on medical leave since late March, signed an extension this month to continue working as baseball coach at San Diego State University, according to ESPN.

The man nicknamed "Mr. Padre," who took over the program at his alma mater after the 2002 season, had said he believed the cancer was from chewing tobacco, a habit he shared with many major leaguers.

Gwynn was a key member of the 1984 and 1998 San Diego Padres National League pennant-winning teams that reached the World Series, and he batted .371 in two Fall Classics.

"He was beloved by so many ... for his kindness, graciousness and passion for the game," said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board of the Hall of Fame.

The sweet-swinging lefthanded hitting outfielder amassed 3,141 hits over 20 seasons, compiling a career batting average of .338 that is 18th best all-time. He also won a record-tying eight National League batting titles.

A 15-time All-Star, Gwynn also won five Gold Glove Awards in recognition of his defensive skills and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007 in his first year of eligibility.   Continued...

Former San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn holds his Hall of Fame plaque following his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York July 29, 2007.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder