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Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn dies of cancer at age 54

Tony Gwynn in 2006 (photo by Ewen & Donabel via wikipedia commons)

Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn has passed away at 54 years old.

Gwynn died today, Monday, June 16, 2014, of cancer of the salivary gland.

He is survived by his wife, Alicia, daughter Anisha and son Tony Jr., an outfielder with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Hall of Fame outfielder, spent all 20 of his MLB career with the San Diego Padres, had been on a medical leave since late March from his job as the head baseball coach at his alma mater San Diego State.

One of the greatest contact hitters to ever play the game, Gwynn amassed 3,141 hits, a career .338 average and won eight NL batting titles. He excelled at hitting singles the other way, between third base and shortstop, which is considered the “5.5 hole”.

Gwynn had three procedures to remove noncancerous growths from his parotid gland since 1997. In 2010, Gwynn was diagnosed with cancer of a salivary gland and had both lymph nodes removed. Gwynn said his cancer was due to the habit of dipping tobacco that he had since playing rookie ball in Walla Walla in 1981.

Gwynn’s second surgery was complicated, with surgeons removing a facial nerve because it was intertwined with a tumor inside his right cheek. They grafted a nerve from Gwynn’s neck where he  eventually was able to regain facial movement.

Gwynn’s other accomplishments included:

2 World Series appearances

15-time All-Star

8-time Batting Champion

5-time Gold Glove Award Winner

7-time Silver Slugger Award Winner

1999 Roberto Clemente Award Winner

Number 19 jersey retired by San Diego Padres retired in 2004

.338 career batting average

135 career homers

1,138 career RBI’s

Played with the Padres from 1982-2001.