A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 76 Tony Gwynn (Number 9 Right Field)

I made a mistake when I bought Tony Gwynn’s score from right field to the top 1,000. Gwynn will now have 912 points and finish ahead of Tim Raines. I think that Gwynn was a better player anyway. Gwynn won eight batting crowns. Not only that he hit over .350 seven times, one time without winning the batting race. He hit over .350, 5 years in a row from 1993 to 1997. The thing was that Tony was 37 the last year of this streak. After that he played four more years and never hit under .321. However, he was a backup player the last two years.  Add to this that he was a really good fielder early in his career and he was the kind of guy you stick in right field and not worry about him.

The funny thing is even though he was on base so much he scored 100 runs only twice in his career, once leading the league in runs scored. Since he batted early in the order, he wasn’t much of an RBI man. In 1997 he mostly batted third and he drove in 119 runs. Tony was only a fair power hitter and didn’t even hit a whole lot of doubles. Early in his career he did hit a lot of triples as he had good speed. He also stole a lot of bases when he was young. But he didn’t have a lot of speed when older as he hit way less triples and stole way lost bases.

In 1998 San Diego and Tony Gwynn went to the World Series and played the New York Yankees. The Yankees that year was in my opinion the greatest team I saw play. The swept San Diego four straight in the World Series that year. I looked at Tony’s stats in the series and he batted .500 with a home run. I thought well he wasn’t too involved in the runs scored. However, he scored two runs and drove in 3 in four games which is pretty solid. Then I looked at the box scores and Gwynn got a lot of big hits. Let’s go thru the games one by one.

Game 1: Gwynn batting second singled after Quilvio Veras walked. So, the first two players were on base in the top of the first of game 1. However, Greg Vaughn hit into a double play and the Padres didn’t score. The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the second. Gwynn batted in the top of the third with one out and a runner on first. He grounded out with the runner advancing to second. Greg Vaughn more than made up for his double play by hitting a two-run homer to tie the game. In the top of the fifth with two outs and Veras on first. Gwynn hit a homerun to give the Padres a two-run lead. Vaughn homered after him to give the Padres a three-run lead 5-2. The sad thing was that the Padres hit three homeruns in the series and Vaughn’s was the last one. The bottom of the seventh was a key inning for the game and the series as it showed what the Yankees could do. Kevin Brown a great pitcher started the inning and had been pitching well. However, the Yankees rallied for 7 runs to take a 9-5 lead. However, Gwynn and the Padres didn’t quit. Gwynn started the top of the eighth with a single. He later scored on an error to make the score 9-6. The tying run then came to the plate. However, Mariano Rivera was already in the game. He got the final four outs of the game to preserve the Yankee victory.

Game 2: Gwynn again singled in the first again with one out. The Padres didn’t score. By the time Gwynn batted again in the third the score was 6-0. He walked in the game but by that time it was 9-1. The Yankees won 9-3.

Game 3: San Diego was now at home and this was an exciting game. Gwynn flew out in the first. The game was still scoreless in the fourth when Gwynn flew out again. The game was still scoreless in the bottom of the sixth when the Padres pitcher Sterling Hitchcock led off with a single. Quilvio Veras walked. This was a big at bat for Gwynn. He singled in Hitchcock and Veras scored on an error. The Padres led by two and Gwynn was on third. The Padres led by two. Gwynn later scored on Caminiti’s sacrifice fly. The Padres had a 3-0 lead and a 91 percent chance of winning the game. Gwynn’s hit was the second most important moment of the game. Unfortunately, the big hit of the game was by a Yankee hitter. The Yankees scored two in the seventh and three in the eighth to go ahead 5-3. Again, Gwynn and the Padres didn’t give up. With one out in the eighth, Veras doubled. Gwynn singled him to third. Mariano Rivera came in. Greg Vaughn drove in Veras with a sacrifice fly. Rivera struck out Ken Caminiti. The Padres put two runners on in the ninth but didn’t score off Rivera giving the Yankees a 5-4 victory.

Game 4:  In the bottom of the first Gwynn made an out with no one on base. The game was still scoreless in the third when Gwynn again made the second out of the inning with on one on base. The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the 6th. Gwynn led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. However, the Padres did nothing to advance him. The Yankees scored two runs in the top of the eighth to take a 3-0 lead. With one out Veras walked and Gwynn singled. Vaughn struck out and Mariano Rivera came in the game to get the final four outs. Caminiti singled to load the bases. The winning run stepped to the plate. However, Rivera got Jim Leyritz to fly out. He then got the Padres out without scoring in the 9th to give the Yankees the World Championship.

So, Tony Gwynn had a great series even thought the Padres didn’t win a game. That’s baseball.

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Author: Douglas Byzewski

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