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Many of game's best are gone young

Gwynn's death at 54 a reminder of past Hall of Famers who passed away early

NEW YORK -- With the death of Tony Gwynn at 54 on Monday, below is a list of members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who died young:

Gary Carter: "The Kid" was an All-Star catcher best known for his years with the Expos and Mets. He was inducted in 2003 and died at 57 in 2012 due to a brain tumor.

Roberto Clemente: The great Pirates right fielder died in a plane crash off the coast of Puerto Rico on Dec. 31, 1972. At 38, he was still an active player and was inducted posthumously in '73 after a special election.

Mickey Cochrane: A catcher for the Philadelphia A's and Tigers from 1925-37, he was inducted in 1947 and died at 59 of lymphatic cancer in 1962.

Don Drysdale: The Dodgers right-hander known as "Big D" teamed with Sandy Koufax in the 1960s. He was inducted in 1984 and as a broadcaster for the club and died at the team hotel in Montreal of a heart attack in 1993 at the age of 56.

Lou Gehrig: One of the greatest Yankees in history, the "Iron Horse" was inducted in 1939 in a special election shortly after his forced retirement from the game because of a fatal battle with ALS. He was 37 when he died in 1941.

Gwynn: The Padres' right fielder for 20 seasons, Gwynn was inducted in 2007 and played his entire career in San Diego. His .338 lifetime batting is the highest since Ted Williams retired with a .344 average in 1960.

Jim "Catfish" Hunter: The right-hander starred for the A's and Yankees and was inducted into the Hall in 1987. He also died of ALS, passing away in 1999 at 53.

Walter Johnson: A member of the "Big Five" inaugural Hall Class of 1936, the "Big Train" is second all time with 417 victories and pitched all 21 of his seasons for the original Washington Senators. He died at 59 of a brain tumor in 1946.

Christy Mathewson: Also a member of the inaugural Class of 1936, the turn-of-the-20th-century right-hander, who spent most of his 17 seasons with the New York Giants, had already passed away in 1925 at the age of 45 because of tuberculosis.

Mel Ott: The outfielder played his entire 22-year career for the New York Giants and at one time was the National League leader with 511 homers. He was inducted in 1951 and died in an auto accident in '58 at the age of 49.

Kirby Puckett: The Twins outfielder died at 45 in 2006 from a massive stroke. He was inducted into the Hall in 2001 and played his entire 12-year career in Minnesota.

Jackie Robinson: The man who shattered Major League Baseball's color barrier on April 15, 1947, was inducted in 1962. He died in 1972 at 53 from diabetes and heart failure.

Babe Ruth: Baseball's all-time home run leader until 1974 with 715, "The Bambino" was another member of the inaugural Class of 1936. The Yankees great died in 1948 from throat cancer at the age of 53.

Willie Stargell: The key member of the "We Are Family" Pirates that won the 1979 World Series, "Pops" was elected in 1988 and died at 61 in 2001 due to kidney failure after a stroke.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.
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