Gosh, where do you start with Tony Gwynn?
Okay, I first want to point out that when I choose a new project to start up, I don’t technically choose it. It choose me.
By that I mean I have a large collection of sets that I haven’t played with yet, but would someday like to. And, I know…, I will never get around to all of them.
But that’s besides the point.
I was wrapping up a 1934 MLB project when I decided to – as usual – roll dice to randomly determine which project I was going to tackle next.
Lo and behold, this roll came within a week of Tony Gwynn passing away.
And up came 1984, so I was actually pretty excited to be reunited, as it were, with Mister Gwynn.
When he passed away, I felt a little bummed. My wife asked me who he was.
I wasn’t really sure of an accurate way to describe him other than to just say that he was a professional hitter.
She started following baseball in the late 1990s, and I wasn’t sure who a good comparable player would be from, say, 2000-2009.
But I just said that, when I was growing up, in the 1980s and 90s, Tony Gwynn was pretty much “the man” at the plate. When I think of that era and I think of “hitters”, my mind goes to Wade Boggs in the American League and Gwynn in the National.
He received MVP votes in 12 different seasons.
He made 15 All-Star games.
He led the league in hitting eight times, including in 1997 when he hit .372 at age 37! In fact, that made it four straight seasons that he led the league.
He spent his entire career, playing 2,440 games and amassing 3,141 hits, with the same team – the San Diego Padres.
He hit .338 for his career, which is currently 20th best of all time. (Take away players who played pre-1920 and he moves up into the top 5.)
My wife was a big Ted Williams fan, so that seemed like a good comp as well. Just a professional “hitter’s hitter”, a guy you knew was going to be among the league leaders in batting average, year in and year out.
1984 wasn’t the best season of his career, but it was still (of course) a great one.
Gwynn led the NL in batting average (.351) and hits (213).
He was also among the league leaders in on base percentage (.410), OPS, total bases, and triples.
He was a 1st ballot Hall of Famer in 2007, pulling in 97.6% of votes.
I have no idea what the other 2.4% were thinking, but that was a no-brainer.
Gwynn was a pro.