Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Rest in Peace, Tony Gwynn, Thanks for the Memories
Long before the San Diego Padres moved the team to Petco Park, located in downtown San Diego at 19 Tony Gwynn Drive, baseball fans spent twenty years cheering for Tony Gwynn and his teammates at the Q. If you heard the voice of the Padres yelling "Oh doctor!" or "You can hang a star on that baby!" most likely Jerry Coleman was gazing with admiration at Mr. San Diego himself in right field. Our first-born son recited Tony Gwynn's name shortly after he learned to say momma and dadda. Before his second birthday he could recite the names of most of Tony's teammates from the 1992 season including Trevor Hoffman, Benito Santiago, Fred McGriff and Gary Sheffield.
I talked with my oldest son last night about Tony's passing. He said, "Dad, my two greatest heroes growing up in California were Tony Gwynn and Junior Seau. I can't believe both of them are gone."
Jim Miller, a physical therapist who resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, is perhaps the biggest fan of baseball I know. Our ritual for twenty-two consecutive years when he vacationed in Padreland was "July with Jim." This always included at least one day or night at the ball park watching our beloved teams battle it out. Jim always clapped for Tony even though he donned a Diamondback jersey. Jim sent me a text message letting me know Kevin Towers, former GM for the Padres who now oversees the Diamondbacks, paid a special tribute to Tony Gwynn at the ball game in Arizona last evening.
Tony Gwynn is gone now. So is Jerry Coleman. But their memories will live on in our hearts forever. I picture both of them looking down at 19 Tony Gwynn Drive today from their box seats in Heaven. And if you look up to the night sky after an amazing play, you may see Jerry Coleman dangling a star from above. Oh doctor, you can hang a star on that baby! Good-bye, Tony. Thanks for all the memories. The world will never forget you nor will we forget the voice of the Padres sitting next to you. Rest in peace.