May 27, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
When Tony Gwynn slashed a single into centre field in the first inning on August 6, 1999 at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, he became the first – and still only – player to register their 3,000th big league hit in Canada.
Numbering just 13,540, the small but boisterous Montreal crowd rewarded the eight-time batting champ with a lengthy standing ovation, while Gwynn’s Padres teammates poured onto the field to congratulate him.
“Every time I came to the plate they were pulling for me,” Gwynn said of the Montreal fans to reporters after the game. “They were great.”
Gwynn’s milestone hit secured Expos hurler Dan Smith a spot in baseball history.
“To get it my first time up was huge,” Gwynn told reporters. “For me it’s a great day.’”
But the Padres legend wasn’t finished there, he proceeded to notch three more hits to lead his club to a 12-10 win.
Making his milestone single even more special was that it was Gwynn’s mother Vendella’s 64th birthday and she was on hand to celebrate along with the longtime Padre’s wife, Alicia, and his daughter, Anisha.
Gwynn recorded his 3,000th hit in his 2,284th game, making him the third fastest to 3,000 hits, behind only Ty Cobb (2,135 games) and Nap Lajoie (2,224 games).
“When you talk about 3,000 hits, you talk about passion and a love for the game,” Gwynn told reporters. “I love playing the game.”
The helmet, cleats, pants and bat from Gwynn’s 3,000th hit game now reside in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s collection.
Gwynn kept the ball, but three years after he passed away from salivary gland cancer in 2014, his family sold off some of his memorabilia through SCP Auctions. Gwynn’s 3,000th hit ball sold for $142,762.
Gwynn, who played his entire 20-year career with the Padres, retired in 2001 with 3,141 hits. His eight National League batting titles tied him with Honus Wagner for the most in major league 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.
Overall, in 178 career contests against the Expos, Gwynn 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. Hitting leadoff, he was the National League’s starting centre fielder that game and went 2 for 4 with a run scored.