When Tony Gwynn slashed a single into centre field in the first inning on August 6, 1999 at Olympic Stadium, he became the first – and still only – player to register their 3,000th hit outside of the United States. The sparse crowd of 13,540 rewarded the eight-time batting champ with a lengthy standing ovation and Gwynn’s Padres teammates poured onto the field to congratulate him. The hit would also secure Expos hurler, Dan Smith, who would pitch just four big league seasons, his spot in baseball history. Making the milestone hit even sweeter was that it was Gwynn’s mother’s birthday, and his mom was on hand to celebrate. The Padres legend had also recorded his 2,000th career hit on his mom’s birthday day six years earlier.
Gwynn, who played his entire 20-year career with the Padres, would retire in 2001 with 3,141 hits. His eight National League batting titles tied him with Honus Wagner for the most in history. Gwynn’s big league resume also boasts a .338 career batting average, 319 stolen bases, five Gold Gloves and 15 all-star selections. He also competed in two World Series but the Padres lost both times (1984, 1998). For his efforts, he was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility.
In 178 career contests versus Montreal, he hit .316. He performed better against the Expos at Olympic Stadium, batting .332 in 92 games. The only time he played in Toronto was in the 1991 All-Star Game at SkyDome. Hitting leadoff, he was the National League’s starting centre fielder that game and went 2 for 4 with a run scored.
Of all the amazing things Gwynn accomplished in baseball, the one that jumped out at me when I read your post was the fact that he played twenty years with the same team. How often does that happen? And it was with San Diego. That fact about his mom’s birthday (twice) is a great bit of trivia, and just one of the reasons I keep coming back for more. Thanks, Kevin!