SAN DIEGO -- On what would have been his 57th birthday, Tony Gwynn's enduring legacy was honored in Poway, Calif., with the unveiling of a statue that served as a tribute to his life as a father and as a baseball player.The Hall of Fame right fielder, fondly known as
SAN DIEGO -- On what would have been his 57th birthday, Tony Gwynn's enduring legacy was honored in Poway, Calif., with the unveiling of a statue that served as a tribute to his life as a father and as a baseball player.
The Hall of Fame right fielder, fondly known as Mr. Padre, passed away from cancer in June 2014. On Tuesday, the city of Poway unveiled a statue in his honor. The 11-foot-high tribute shows Gwynn in his Padres uniform, tipping his cap with his left arm while clutching his daughter, Anisha, in his right arm.
"I want to say thank you to everybody who has contributed, everybody who was involved," said Tony Gwynn Jr. during an emotional speech at the unveiling ceremony. "It takes me back, now quite a few years ago, to my time at Poway High. ... This community meant so much to him as well as the rest of us in our family."
Gwynn Jr. recited several stories about his father, including his recount of Gwynn's final contract negotiations with the Padres. The younger Gwynn, then in high school, said he couldn't understand why his father wanted to remain in San Diego so badly when there was potentially more money and better chances to win elsewhere. It wasn't until years later that Gwynn Jr. said he fully understood.
Gwynn Sr. would finish his career having spent all 20 of his big league seasons in San Diego, with whom he accumulated 3,141 hits.
"He showed me what was right and what was the right thing to do in that situation," Gwynn Jr. said.
Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Enberg gave an introductory speech at the unveiling, before the Gwynn family -- Tony Jr., his wife Alicia and daughter Anisha -- all spoke.
Poway residents and businesses donated the money for the tribute statue, a gesture which meant a lot to Alicia Gwynn.
"This was Tony's home," Alicia Gwynn said. "This was my home. I find it very fitting that he has a statue at Lake Poway. ... So thank you from the bottom of my heart for how you made this happen."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.