Signed in blue Sharpie on a blank model 180 Louisville Slugger baseball bat
Anthony Keith "Tony" Gwynn, Sr. (May 9, 1960 – June 16, 2014), nicknamed "Mr. Padre", was an American professional baseball right fielder who played 20 seasons (1982–2001) in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the San Diego Padres. The left-handed hitting Gwynn won eight batting titles in his career, tied for the most in National League (NL) history. He is considered one of the best and most consistent hitters in baseball history. He had a .338 career batting average, never hitting below .309 in any full season. Gwynn was a 15-time All-Star, recognized for his skills both on offense and defense with seven Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards. He was the rare player in his era that stayed with a single team his entire career, and he played in the only two World Series appearances in San Diego's franchise history. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility.
Gwynn attended San Diego State University (SDSU), where he played both college baseball and basketball for the Aztecs. He was an all-conference player in both sports in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), but was honored as an All-American in baseball. He was selected by the Padres in the third round of the 1981 MLB Draft as the 58th overall pick. Gwynn made his major-league debut the following year, and captured his first batting title in 1984, when San Diego advanced to its first-ever World Series. A poor fielder in college, his work on his defense was rewarded in 1986, when he received his first Gold Glove. The following year, he won the first of three consecutive batting titles. Beginning in 1990, he endured four straight seasons which ended prematurely due to injuries, particular to his left knee. However, he experienced a resurgence with four straight batting titles starting in 1994, when he batted a career-high .394 in a strike-shortened season. Gwynn played in his second World Series in 1998, before reaching the 3,000-hit milestone the following year. He played two more seasons, hampered by injuries in both, and retired after the 2001 season.
Gwynn had .338 career batting average, never hitting below .309 in any full season, and finished with 3,141 career hits. A contact hitter, he excelled at hitting the ball to the opposite field. After meeting Hall of Famer Ted Williams in 1992, Gwynn became more adept at pulling the ball and using the entire field, as well as hitting for more power. He could also run early in his career, when he was a stolen base threat. Widely considered the greatest player in Padres history, Gwynn regularly accepted less money to remain with the small-market team. After he retired from playing, the Padres retired his No. 19 in 2004. He became the head baseball coach at his alma mater, and also spent time as a baseball analyst. Gwynn died of salivary gland cancer in 2014 at the age of 54.