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Jun 17

Mr. Dependable-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli

If you asked 10 people what the most exciting play in baseball is they would probably answer a home run, or maybe a triple play. If you asked Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn who died Monday from oral cancer, I bet he would probably say the most exciting play for him was a base hit between the third baseman and the shortstop or what is now known as the 5.5 hole because of Gwynn.

You can talk about Gwynn’s play on the field, how he had an uncanny ability to always get on base anyway he could. However, what most people will remember about him is his classy attitude, his quiet leadership, and his big smile. What people may not remember is, Gwynn played in the steroid era when balls were flying out of ballparks like crazy, but Gwynn’s approach at the plate never changed, he was content with getting three base hits, as long as the San Diego Padres won.

I had the opportunity to meet Gwynn in 2011 during baseball’s Hall of Fame Weekend. My mom, dad, and I San Diego were at an autograph session where I met so many legends Reggie Jackson, Joe Morgan, Gaylord Perry, Wade Boggs, and Whitey Ford. As we were about to leave I saw Gwynn, my dad whispered into my ear, who is that, I couldn’t help it I was shaking, and I said that is Tony Gwynn, I said Mr. Gwynn it is so nice to meet you, would you take a picture with me and with that classic smile on his face he said of course. I then asked him how San Diego State was doing where he was a coach, that smile was still on his face, and he said they are great thanks for asking.

Yesterday when I heard the news that Gwynn had passed away, I instantly remembered that moment and started to cry. Over the next few days people are going to talk about Tony Gwynn the baseball player, but I will remember Tony Gwynn the person. My eight year old nephew is just starting to get into the game of baseball, when he gets older, I hope he plays the game with the class and desire that Tony Gwynn did.