WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg still calls Tony Gwynn coach.
As a San Diego native, Strasburg grew up idolizing Gwynn, and those feelings only grew when he played for Gwynn in college at San Diego State. On Tuesday morning, Strasburg joined MLB Network to share his best memories of his former coach and mentor in advance of the premiere of "Mr. Padre" an hour-long documentary about the late Hall of Famer. "Mr. Padre" premieres at 8 p.m. ET, Tuesday night and includes interviews with Gwynn's family, friends, former teammates and peers.
"I think the biggest thing that I've noticed over the years is all the people that he's touched and that he's impacted," Strasburg said Tuesday morning on "Hot Stove". "I think every single person that's in this documentary is going to be pretty special because his impact in the San Diego community is unrivaled."
Strasburg shared a special bond with Gwynn, who passed away in 2014 after a four-year battle with cancer. Strasburg said Gwynn was his favorite player as a child and joked that his fandom never wavered even after he realized he would never be as good a hitter as Gwynn. Eventually, Strasburg chose to play college baseball for the San Diego State Aztecs with Gwynn as manager. Gwynn was in attendance, sitting near Strasburg's family, during Strasburg's electric MLB debut in 2010, when he struck out 14 against the Braves.
Strasburg's first season at San Diego State was the year Gwynn was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but Strasburg says that election into Cooperstown did not change Gwynn at all.
"The way he treated us on a daily basis, the amount of time he spent with every single player, it just showed that he was doing everything in his power to give us the best chance to succeed on the field and in life," Strasburg said. "So when you see that kind of attention, you kind of owe it to yourself to give your best effort at the same time."