10 Quotes – Tony Gwynn.

•July 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

File Photo of Tony Gwynn

“When you can laugh and you can laugh at yourself and laugh at others, that makes the game a whole lot easier to play.” – Tony Gwynn

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Tony Gwynn Statue

“I would always leave him feeling a lot better than before I had met him.” Vin Scully on Tony Gwynn.

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Gwynn Slide

“One of the things I’m proudest about is that I played for one team.” – Tony Gwynn

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Tony Gwynn & Ted Williams SD

“I’m so glad that you’re such a nice guy (and you are) but I’m also so glad that the people in San Diego just love you.” – Ted Williams to Tony Gwynn

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Gwynn Signing Autographs

“Tony Gwynn was a gift to anyone who loved baseball.” – Buster Olney

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Tony Gwynn Swing Follow Through

“You just cant do it, except for that fucking Tony Gwynn.” – Greg Maddux, on being convinced that no one could tell the speed of a pitch accurately

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Tony Gwynn Last Game

“Remember these two things: play hard and have fun.” – Tony Gwynn

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Tony Gwynn 1998 World Series

“I’m not going anywhere. This is where I belong and San Diego is home.” – Tony Gwynn

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Tony Gwynn #19 Back

“If I could have a choice, I’d be number #19.” – Adrian Gonzalez

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Duane Harris 90 Feet of Perfection Padres Fan

“Tony Gwynn may be the single most important sports figure in history to a single community.” – Barry Bloom

Remembering Tony Gwynn.

•July 17, 2014 • 6 Comments

Tony Gwynn Header

Southern Oregon was a long way from San Diego, but my family always maintained our roots; particularly when it came to sports. It was my Dad who officially introduced me to baseball and I still remember the conversation quite well. I must have been in second grade at the time and he explained a little about the game and told me about the San Diego Padres. To be honest, I didn’t think too much of the conversation, but I knew that my parents, grandmother and older brothers all liked baseball, so I wasn’t turned off by the idea. Around the same time, I remember kids starting to play little league and being slightly jealous. Not that they were actually playing, but more so that I could not take part in the conversations about their games. Related to this, a lot of kids I knew went to the local Medford A’s games and in turn were fans of the Oakland A’s. I almost feel like it was the “cool” thing to do. The same went for collecting and trading baseball cards. After a short period of time, I wanted in on all of these things as well and before that year was over, I was consumed by it all.

I come from a family of long-time San Diego Padres fans and that for some members of my family, this goes back to the days of the old Pacific Coast League Padres. Once I personally became interested in the team, this meant getting my hands on every single Padres baseball card possible. I remember being absolutely fascinated with the brown and orange that Padres players donned on my 1987 & 1988 Topps cards. However, what captivated me the most was the guy who wore #19 for the Padres, Tony Gwynn.

Gwynn Brown

I have so many fond childhood memories that involve Tony Gwynn on some level or another: I remember the Gwynn-related magazine and newspaper clippings on my bedroom walls. I remember countless conversations with family about him. I remember my Grandma meeting him on different occasions and her telling him about me and even attempting to organize a phone call between us (unfortunately this never happened). I remember saving paper route money to buy an autographed photo of him. I remember my Mom getting me his 1983 Fleer rookie card for Christmas one year and just staring at it in amazement. I remember seeing his 2000th career hit in person and being so happy that tears came to my eyes. I remember attempting to negotiate a trade for a Gwynn Donruss card that my brother got in a pack while playing left field during a little league game (he was behind a fence watching and had just opened a pack). I remember writing #19 on bills of my caps.

I honestly can go on and on. In a way, I think it’s safe to say that Tony Gwynn was and is a big part of who I am. I’ve always thought this was odd, since in many ways, I’ve always disliked the idea of idolizing people. I guess Tony Gwynn is one of the few exceptions I’ve made in regards to this.

Tony Gywnn 1994 All-Star Game

Like many people, I knew he was sick. I knew the cancer had returned and that he was being treated again. However, this time was different as there was an uneasiness about it all. All you had to do was read between the lines to know that something was very wrong. He was not able to attend the 1984 San Diego Padres celebration back in May and speculation began that this was quite serious. Still, when I got the news the morning Tony passed away, I was in complete shock. At first I didn’t think it was possible and I felt numb. This quickly changed and I have no problem admitting that I shed tears that day and on different occasions since. This is something I experienced when Jerry Coleman passed away in January, but with Tony, it went much deeper. The Padres, the city of San Diego, the world of baseball and many people I care about all lost someone that meant a lot to them. It shook me to my core.

I never met the guy, but he was my hero due to what he accomplished on the field and the person he was off the field. How I felt about the guy never changed. Even during the time in my life when interest in baseball often took a backseat to things like music and skateboarding, I always managed to check box scores and read articles to stay updated on how he was playing. There’s a reason I kept everything from my childhood Tony Gwynn collection and have continued to add to it in adulthood. Simple enough, the guy was special and had an impact on me.

San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs

My grandmother passed away this last November and my whole life, up until she got sick, I would call her and talk about baseball. Specifically the Padres, and for many years this meant Tony Gwynn. She would have been heartbroken if she knew that Tony had passed at such an early age. She absolutely adored the man. I spent a lot of my childhood talking to my own late mother about this him as well. She also thought he was great, although her favorite all-time Padre was Goose Gossage. In the last month since Tony passed away, I’ve had multiple conversations with my Dad about Tony. What I’m getting at is that Tony Gwynn was special and impacted so many people in a positive way and in my case, he impacted 3 generations of my family. I’d have a hard time believing that this is unique to just my family.

Sportswriter Barry Bloom recently said that “Tony Gwynn may be the single most important sports figure in history to a single community.” To some, this may be a bold statement, but not me, I believe in it whole heartily. Like many people, I’m still having a hard time grasping the fact that this person, who was a big part of my childhood and represents so much about the game I love has died.

With that said, it brings me joy knowing that there was a Tony Gwynn in this world and that I had such a great guy to look up to as a kid. Mr. Padre may be gone, but I think it’s safe to say that he will never, ever be forgotten.

Tony Gwynn Brown Yellow

 

Baseball Quotes.

•June 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Doc Ellis Pirates

“We gonna get down. We gonna do the do. I’m going to hit these motherfuckers.”Doc Ellis (prior to facing the Reds in 1974)

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Ted Williams BP

“Bullshit.”Ted Williams (to sportswriters after being told he’d be out 5 to 6 weeks after an ankle injury)

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Griffey catch

“Why should I stretch? Does a cheetah stretch before it chases its prey?”Ken Griffey Jr.

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Casey Stengel Brooklyn

“Being with a woman all night never hurt a pro baseball player. It’s staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in.”Casey Stengel

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Jud Wilson Grays

“They all looked the same to me.”Jud Wilson (when asked to compare Negro League pitchers to Major League pitchers)

30 Teams. 30 Posts: Toronto Blue Jays

•April 23, 2014 • 1 Comment

Toronto Blue Jays Logo
In the newest installment of my “30 Teams. 30 Posts” project, I decided to cover a team that I’ve always followed on some level or another. I’ve never lived in Toronto or even been there, nor do I have any family connections to the city. The only real reason I ever took a liking to the Blue Jays was due to my brother. See, when I first discovered Baseball as a young boy around 1987/1988, my brother did as well. While everyone in my family is from San Diego and life-long fans of the San Diego Padres, my brother took an instant liking to the Blue Jays as well. He had to be in kindergarten or first grade at the time and his reasons for liking the Jays were simple enough as he based them on the Baseball cards in our collections. He liked the Blue Jays’ logo and he took an instant liking to slugger, George Bell. I could get behind this and fully supported my brother’s (somewhat odd) fandom. So by association, I ended up following the Blue Jays a lot growing up and always enjoyed watching them play.

While I liked George Bell too, I took a particular liking to players such as Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, John Olerud and Fred McGriff as well. It definitely helped that a number of notable future and ex-Padres were on the team during those years as this affected my childhood rooting interests. The World Series teams of 1992 and 1993 were easy to pull for as they were filled with many great and likable players. With that said, I’ll always remember the ’92 team beating the A’s in the ALCS on their way to winning the pennant. I was actually not all that tore up about it.

Now days, I casually pay attention to the Blue Jays. My American League East allegiance tends to be with the Rays, but I always try and pay attention to what’s going on with the Blue Jays. I always tune in when R.A. Dickey is pitching and I root for many of the current players on the team such as Jose Bautista, Mark Buehrle and Munenori Kawasaki. Even though I’m not necessarily a “fan” of the team, I’ll always have an affinity for them as they trigger many memories from my childhood.

So without further hesitation, I give you some Toronto Blue Jays images and memories that I enjoy and would like to share. Oh yeah, after typing up this post, it got me thinking that I’m going to have to splurge and buy one of the old blue & white Blue Jays throwback caps in the near future.

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George Bell

As I mentioned above, my brother’s favorite player growing up was the short tempered and power hitting, George Bell. In turn, I became a big fan of him as well and made it a point to root for him and collect as many Baseball cards that featured him. With that said, my brother and me always had an understanding that when we got any George Bell or Tony Gwynn (my favorite player) cards, that we would willingly trade them to each other. He always had priority on Bell cards before me and I was OK with this.

I always thought it was unfortunate that Bell left Toronto prior to their World Series victories in ’92 and ’93 as he had spent almost a decade with the team prior to this without any real post-season success. He had some monster seasons with the team during his tenure there, including his 1987 campaign in which he won AL MVP with 47 home runs. Last I heard, Bell was working in the Blue Jays system as a roving hitting instructor or something along those lines, so it’s good to know he’s still involved in the game and with the Blue Jays.

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Joe Carter Mitch Williams

I’m sure that anyone from my generation would agree with me when I say that the 1993 World Series captivated my imagination in a way that only a scripted movie could. I must admit though, I was somewhat indifferent as to who I wanted to win due to the fact that Toronto won the year the before. I remember thinking that it would be cool if the Phillies got a ring too as I had never seen them win before. This is still a frame of mind I usually have when rooting for teams in the post-season. In any case, I was not disappointed whatsoever when Toronto won. It was pure Baseball magic and that is admirable.

I remember watching Game 6 with my family and actually walking out of front door when Joe Carter’s now famous at-bat occurred. I was being silly and said it was too much stress to watch, so I decided to step outside. I heard the cheering on the TV and popped back in after Carter hit the homerun that would forever define his legacy in the game. Bad timing on my part, but I think the amount of times that I’ve re-watched that at-bat since more than makes up for this poor choice on my part. I swear that every time I watch Carter’s at-bat, it always manages to crack a smile. I doubt this will ever change.

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Roberto-Alomar Blue jays

In the late 80s, the San Diego Padres (my favorite team) had some incredible talent coming up through their system. Two of those players coming up were the Alomar brothers. I remember my Dad being a huge fan of the duo and often talking to me about them. Well, the Padres had a terrible ownership group who managed to destroy much of their young talent during a period of 4 years or so with a series of lopsided trades and then followed them up with a mind-blowing fire sale. Future Hall of Famer, Roberto Alomar was one of the Padres young stars let go as he was traded to the Blue Jays. As they say, the rest was history.

Alomar spent the next half decade as a fixture in Toronto while earning All-Star and Gold Glove awards every year he was in the Blue Jays uniform. Without a doubt, Alomar was my favorite second basemen growing up and I was delighted to see him go into the Hall of Fame as a Blue Jay. Still, I’ll always wonder what could have been if he (and others) stayed in San Diego during the early ’90s.

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R.A. Dickey

Like many others, I’m fascinated with the knuckleball. As a kid, I loved trying to throw it and from time to time, I still attempt to do so. I loved using it while playing the video game RBI Baseball as it was a sure way to strike out anyone. I also remember wanting to get my hands on the Baseball cards of anyone who threw it. This meant the Niekro brothers, Charlie Hough, Tom Candiotti and even a young Tim Wakefield. I’m telling you, for a period of time during my childhood, I was obsessed with the knuckleball.

This leads me to Blue Jays pitcher, R.A. Dickey. Everything about the pitch is unorthodox and as he says, “You’ve got to live and die with the pitch.” Dickey is not just one of my favorite pitchers in baseball, but one of my favorite overall players in the game. His story and attitude is great and I’m not lying when I say that I try and tune into every game he pitches. This leads to me watching more than your average amount of Blue Jays games from someone who doesn’t “follow” the team. As far as Dickey is concerned, do yourself a favor and read his book or watch the documentary “Knuckleball!” If you’re not a fan of Dickey after that, I seriously question your love of the game.

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Dave Stieb Blue Jays
I don’t think it’s a crazy statement to suggest that Dave Stieb very well may be the most admired and recognized pitcher in the history of the Blue Jays. Yes, Roy Halladay was better and is probably a Hall of Famer, but Stieb was a Blue Jay during the early years of the franchise and although injured a large part of the season and released prior to the post season, he was still a part of the ’92 World Series team (he was given a ring by the organization for his contributions to the team). When I think of the Blue Jays of the 1980s, I think of George Bell, Lloyd Moseby and Dave Stieb. During his peak years, Steib was solid as it comes and his Baseball cards were highly sought after by both my brother and myself.

My favorite part of Stieb’s career was his relationship with the elusive no-hitter. You see, during his career, Dave Stieb blew four no-hitters in the 9th inning of a game. That’s right, FOUR. To add insult to injury, two of them came in consecutive starts in 1988. If you ask me, that is some heartbreaking stuff. Well, in 1990 Stieb finally attained Baseball immortality when he accomplished what he previously could not do when he no-hit the Cleveland Indians. Click HERE to watch footage from some of the blown no-hitters and his now famous no-hitter. The Baseball gods sure do work in funny ways.

Ted Williams…again.

•March 18, 2014 • 1 Comment

It seems as if every year or so, I whip up a post consisting of only Ted Williams content. Well, today would be one of those days due to the fact that I’m currently reading The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams, and this has lead to me being on a bigger Williams kick than usual. As far as the book goes, so far it seems to be the most complete and authentic take on the life of Ted Williams. I’ve read more than a few books on Ted Williams and this one stands out among its predecessors due to its thorough and unbiased content from every period of his life; this is in addition to many untold stories which I find incredibly fascinating. It’s a book definitely worth reading and I’m already suggesting it to everyone and I’m only half way through it. In any case, here are some great Ted Williams photos that I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

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Ted Wiliams Navy Baseball
Ted Williams served in the Navy in both World War II and the Korean War. While many, if not most players in the military played on service teams during wartime, Williams played very little and took the military quite seriously. I can’t quite explain why, but there’s something I really like about this photo.

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1938 Minneapolis Millers (Ted Williams)
After spending the 1936 and 1937 seasons with the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League, Williams was traded to the Red Sox for $35,000 and four players. He spent the 1938 season with the Minneapolis Millers, the AA affiliate for Boston and proceeded to hit .366 with 43 home runs and won the league’s triple crown. It’s safe to say that from early on, it was obvious that Ted was destined for greatness.

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Ted Williams pitching BP
According to every book I’ve read on Ted, he grew up pitching and into high school. He supposedly visualized himself as a pitcher and a good one at that. Once he started playing pro ball in the PCL, he was given opportunities by the Padres to pitch in blowouts and when arms needed to be preserved. Unfortunately, he was never all that effective on the mound during this time. In the big leagues, Boston gave him a chance to pitch in 1940 during a blowout against the Tigers in which he faced 9 batters over 2 innings and gave up three hits, one run and managed to strike out one batter.

By the looks of the photo above of him tossing BP, it seems as if Ted never completely got pitching out of his system.

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Ted Williams PCL Padres Swing
The man who’d one day be known as the Splendid Splinter takes a swing for a photographer during his time with the San Diego Padres of the old PCL.

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Ty Cobb and Ted WIlliams
Ty Cobb and Ted Williams. When most people debate who the greatest hitter of all time is, these two are usually are at the top of the list. I wish I could have listened to these hitting legends talk hitting.

 
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