Mr. Padre is somewhere up there with the Father.
Tony Gywnn, the Hall of Famer who boasts 3,141 hits during his twenty year career, has passed away battling cancer at the age of 54.
Yahoo! Sports reports that the lefty hitter who registered an incredible 0.370 in 1987 died Monday morning at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, California while being surrounded and bid farewell by his family. He was a 15 time All-star and played in two of the San Diego Padre's only World Series appearances.
"Major League Baseball today mourns the tragic loss of Tony Gwynn," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement Monday. "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.
"... For more than 30 years, Tony Gwynn was a source of universal goodwill in the National Pastime, and he will be deeply missed by the many people he touched."
Gwynn has recently signed an extension as baseball coach at San Diego State last Wednesday but had been on medical leave since late March while undergoing cancer treatments. The eight time batting champion helmed the baseball program of his alma mater since the year 2002.
He is survived by his wife, Aliciam daughter Anisha and son, Tony, Jr., who is on the Philadelphia Phillies' roster. Gywnn Jr. was placed on bereavement leave following the death of his father.
Gwynn had stated that the cancer was probably from his occasional chewing of tobacco. The former hitter also tried multiple procedures to put the cancer in remission. He underwent two major operations in his right check between August 2010 and February 2012, with the second surgery being more critical than the first due to the removal of a facial nerve that was entangled with the tumor inside his right cheek.
"He was in a tough battle and the thing I can critique is he's definitely in a better place," longtime agent John Boggs told The Associated Press. "He suffered a lot. He battled. That's probably the best way I can describe his fight against this illness he had, and he was courageous until the end."
Having spent his whole career with San Diego, Gwynn was nicknamed Mr. Padre and amassed 3,141 hits, a .338 career batting average, eight batting titles, and 15 All-Star games. His decision to stay with one franchise is a rarity in professional sports and the San Diego Padre's organization treasured him for his loyalty.
"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."