I've been a huge baseball fan my whole life, and growing up, there were a few players that I wanted to emulate. The first two were Ken Griffey Jr and Chipper Jones, but the third was Tony Gwynn.
It's one of those deaths where it kind of stops you in your tracks. Much like Phillip Seymour Hoffman earlier this year, Gwynn was a well respected person that is gone far too soon.
I've communicated with a few friends and colleagues with San Diego connections, and all of them were nothing but effusive in their praise for Mr. Padre.
His early death was aided by his longtime use of chewing tobacco, something that is still all-too prevalent in baseball today. It gave him cancer, and killed him at the age of 54. I've been in enough dugouts and have seen my fair share of chew, and for as much as he was a role model on the field, I hope that Gwynn can serve as a model of what not to do in this aspect.
It's a sad day for San Diego and a sad day for baseball. Rest in peace, Tony.