Hall of Fame Baseball player Tony Gwynn passed away early Monday morning at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, California, while surrounded by his family, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced. Gwynn was age 54.
Gwynn spent his entire 20 seasons as a pro-player in San Diego playing for the Padres. He choose to stay with the same team over the years due to his love for the team and surrounding city full of fans.
"Major League Baseball today mourns the tragic loss of Tony Gwynn, the greatest Padre ever and one of the most accomplished hitters that our game has ever known, whose all-around excellence on the field was surpassed by his exuberant personality and genial disposition in life," MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement
Gwynn had 3,141 hits in his career, along with being a 15-time All-Star and reached the coveted 200-hit mark in a season five times, and his .338 career average was 18th-best all time. He also won won eight National League batting titles and played in the franchise's only two World Series.
"He was beloved by so many, especially the Hall of Fame family, for his kindness, graciousness and passion for the game," Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement. "Tony was one of baseball history's most consistent hitters and most affable personalities. He was an icon for San Diego Padres fans, never more evident than on Induction Day of 2007, when tens of thousands of Tony's most appreciative fans filled Cooperstown for his Hall of Fame speech. We extend our deepest sympathies to Alicia and the entire Gwynn family."
In a report by ESPN --Gwynn had two operations for cancer in his right cheek between August 2010 and February 2012. The second surgery was complicated, with surgeons removing a facial nerve because it was intertwined with a tumor inside his right cheek. They grafted a nerve from Gwynn's neck to help him eventually regain facial movement.
Gwynn had said that he believed the cancer was from chewing tobacco.
"I am deeply saddened to learn that Tony Gwynn has lost his courageous battle against cancer," Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, said in a statement. "Since his diagnosis, Tony displayed the same tenacity and drive in his fight against this horrible disease that he brought to the plate in every at bat of his Hall of Fame career.
His No. 19 Jersey was retired by the Padres in 2004 and a statue was setup in his honor at Petco Park Stadium. Gwynn was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 during his first year of eligibility.
"There are no words to express what Tony means to this organization and this community," the Padres said in a statement. "More than just Mr. Padre, Tony was Mr. San Diego. He cared deeply about our city and had a profound impact on our community.
"He forever will be remembered not only for his tremendous on-field accomplishments, but also for his infectious laugh, warm, outgoing personality and huge heart. On behalf of Padres fans everywhere, we mourn the loss of a friend, a teammate and a legend."