Tony Gwynn, Mr. Padre, lost his four-year battle with cancer earlier this week. You’re reading this Sports Report because Tony Gwynn existed, and because he stayed in San Diego when he didn’t have to.
I went from casual sports fan to die-hard sports fan in 1998, and it started with the Padres. At that point, Tony had a big belly but was still the best pure hitter in the league despite steroids running rampant. His smile and laugh were enough to light up a room, but what you remembered most was the focused look on his face the second he crossed into the batter’s box. I had never seen anything like Tony, and after seeing him once I was finding ways to schedule my life around Padres games. I had to see every single Gwynn at-bat, and that feeling didn’t go away until the day he finally retired.
It was my love of Tony Gwynn as a sports icon that turned me into a true sports fan, and drove me to search for those same heroes in other sports. The reason that I eat, breath and sleep sports is because Tony Gwynn was an artist with a baseball bat and showed me just how magical sports can be.
Everyone has their own story about how Tony Gwynn touched their life, either in person or through a TV screen. He truly was San Diego’s hero, even back in his days at San Diego State, and he’ll never be replaced. The world was better for having Tony Gwynn as a part of it, and it’s worse for having him gone.
You’re reading the Sports Report, our weekly compilation of news and information for the San Diego sports fan.
The House That Tony Built
• The entire city of San Diego searched for ways to celebrate and honor Gwynn, which led to more than a couple beautiful tributes.
• You must read this story by David Johnson, who got to know Gwynn as a fan before getting to know him as the team’s bat boy. When other players and coaches are in awe of just how great of a guy one player is, you know it’s something special.
• PETCO Park is sometimes called “The House That Tony Built” but it goes even deeper than that. The San Diego Padres owe their life and their entire legacy to Gwynn, who stubbornly refused to abandon the team for greener pastures. In the days following his death, Gwynn’s No. 19 was in the outfield grass, behind home plate, on the team’s jersey and on just about everything else inside the ballpark. The team really can’t do enough to thank and honor Tony.
• Keith Olbermann did that thing that he does, telling a couple of quick stories about his personal experience with Gwynn to show you exactly the kind of person he was.
— Geoff Young (@ducksnorts) June 18, 2014
Chargers on the Hunt for Free Agents
• Brandon Flowers, the cornerback released by the Kansas City Chiefs last week, is the biggest free agent name available in the NFL and the Chargers had him in town this week to try and woo him. It seemed to be going well but Flowers left town without a contract, which has a lot of fans worried.
• I’ve always said that the only reason to report news from OTAs or minicamp is if there is an injury to an important player. Well, starting center Nick Hardwick was injured this week and is walking around in a boot but should be fine by time training camp starts next month.
• After a resurgent year for the Chargers offense under offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, fans are afraid of change. Taking over for Whisenhunt will be Frank Reich, who has never been an offensive coordinator before. Kyle Posey went digging through Reich’s playing career and coaching career to try and figure out how his offense might differ from last year’s.
Stories You May Have Missed
• The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled Daniel Snyder’s trademark for “Washington Redskins” for being racist. Does this mean the team will be forced to use a different name? Not necessarily, but if Snyder’s appeal loses it means the team’s merchandise will be undersold by competitors. Would that be enough to force a name change? Possibly.
• Deadspin collected every viewer complaint that was sent to the FCC as a result of openly gay NFL player Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on national television after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams. If you’re having a good day, click this link and laugh at how crazy some people are. If you’re having a bad day, this might make you question where we are as a society.
• With its existence under constant threat, the San Diego Sports Arena (sorry, Valley View Casino Center) is still here. Not only that, they’re spending millions of dollars to make it a bit nicer despite losing out on big-name concerts to SDSU’s Viejas Arena. It’s a real shame that the San Diego Gulls no longer exist, as they always seemed to breathe much-needed life into the old arena.
• GIF of the Week: Sliding to avoid the tag is so last year. Jayson Werth is now stopping to avoid the tag:
— SB Nation (@SBNation) June 19, 2014