As Barry Bonds stalks Henry Aaron, as steroid suspicions hangs like a storm cloud over Major League Baseball, as talk of gambling and game-fixing create a fog through the National Basketball Association, and as Michael Vick's indictment creates outrage across the country, I look for solace. And I think I found it.
Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn are set to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY tomorrow, July 29, 2007. Ripken is most known for playing 2,632 games, while Gwynn can be seen as one of the best hitters of the modern era. Reading about these players creates a nostalgia for me, as I remember going to see Ripken play at Camden Yards when I was six or seven years old. Nostalgia grips me as I hear the tales of Gwynn's ability that my dad tells me, as he saw Gwynn play in San Diego at the beginning of his career. So hear it is, my views of both of these soon to be Hall of Famers.
My first entry focused on Cal Ripken, a player who I knew almost everything about, but this entry focuses on Tony Gwynn, a player whom I admire greatly, yet do not know a lot about.
My love affair with Tony Gwynn began during the 1998 season, when the Padres made their run to the World Series before being swept by the Yankees. My dad also helped spur this inside me by telling me stories about Gwynn when he came up while my dad was living in San Diego. He says that Gwynn is one of the best hitters he ever saw, and he has seen some of the best hitters of all-time.
I just cannot find the right words to say what I think about Gwynn, other than that I admire him because he was such a great hitter. I am drawn more to the hitters who hit for average than the power hitters. When I read about the 1994 season, I just think about how much of a shame it is that he did not get a chance to go after the .400 mark, because he would have been one to do it. He only struck out 434 times in his career. Some guys do half that in a season. The list of his statistics just go on and on. He played the game the right way. One team for almost twenty years when he could have probably signed a mega-deal somewhere else. He is all that is, or was, right with baseball.
This is all I can write about Gwynn, as I basically have no words to describe the influence he had on me.