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Sun., Mar. 08, 2015 1:30 PM PDT
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Sat., Apr. 04, 2015 9:00 AM PDT
Chargers Mourn Loss of Legendary Tony Gwynn
Monday had been designated “Thank You San Diego” day, but when news of Tony Gwynn’s sad passing broke, the San Diego Chargers cancelled the event in order to pay tribute to Mr. Padre.
Gwynn was not only one of the greatest hitters in MLB history, but more importantly was a pillar within the community. That’s why many players, coaches and front office members wanted to do more to honor the legendary San Diego icon deciding to visit Gwynn’s statue at Petco Park.
“It was important for us to pay our respects to Tony’s family,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy. “He’s one of the great sports figures of all time. Fortunately, San Diego was able to be around him for his entire career. What he did for the community here (and) coaching at San Diego State (after) playing here for a number of years, he’s one of the greatest players of all time and an even better person.”
One at a time, each member of the organization approached the statue with a single sunflower and laid it at the base of the effigy. Some Chargers have been in San Diego their entire career while others just recently moved here. However, they all have an appreciation for who he was and what he stood for.
“It’s just tragic,” said Nick Hardwick. “Fifty-four years old is awfully young. It’s great to see the community out showing love and support to his family in this time of need. For all the hard work, dedication and good memories that he provided this community, the community is now surrounded around his family giving back.”
Like all other sports fans, General Manager Tom Telesco grew up admiring the all-time great as well.
“I grew up in New York but played baseball as a kid like thousands of other kids,” he said. “Tony Gwynn was one of those legends you looked up to. He was one of the best baseball players of all time, and everyone talks about that he was even a better person than player. I wish I would have had the chance to meet him.”
San Diego native Nick Novak grew up idolizing Gwynn. He remembers going to countless games as a kid just to watch number 19. Novak firmly believes Gwynn set the gold standard for what it means to be a pro athlete both on and off the field. To this day he tries to emulate him, which is why he is so grateful to have had a number of recent interactions with him prior to his passing.
“It was an honor to be able to watch him play at The Murph,” the kicker recalled. “Recently I was able to run into him on campus at SDSU and have some conversations with him. He was always very nice and approachable. I’d be over there kicking sometimes and he’d be walking from the ballpark over there. I had so much adoration and was a little kid around him. That’s what I’ll remember. I loved watching him play. He was such a clutch person on the field, and what most people are talking about today is what he did in the community. He set a great example for all of us as professionals.”
Executive Vice President A.G. Spanos was humbled that the majority of the organization expressed their desire to show support for Gwynn. Overall, the Chargers join the entire city of San Diego in mourning a true legend.
“I’m really proud of our coaches, players and front office who took their time to come out here today to pay their respects to a San Diego icon in Tony Gwynn,” he said. “Right now our thoughts are with his wife and family, and we’re praying for the best for them.”