Tony Gwynn: Mr. Padre’s legend and legacy in San Diego

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 29: 2007 inductee Tony Gwynn gives his acceptance speech at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 29, 2007 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 29: 2007 inductee Tony Gwynn gives his acceptance speech at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 29, 2007 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) /
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Tony Gwynn
LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 10: A general view of the court shows the San Diego State Aztecs and the Colorado State Rams during the second half of a semifinal game of the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament at the Thomas /

Hooping it up.

A vastly unknown legend of Tony Gwynn was his skills on the basketball court. 

June 10, 1981, Tony Gwynn was drafted by both the San Diego Padres and San Diego Clippers — now the Los Angeles Clippers — within their respective drafts. Ultimately, we know that Gwynn chose baseball, but he would have made one heck of an NBA point guard.

He posted 16 points and 16 assists against New Mexico on March 7, 1981, and then two days later record five RBIs in seven at-bats during a doubleheader against Southern California College.

Gwynn was a first-team All-American outfielder for the San Diego State Aztecs, which comes as no surprise. But, he was also a record-breaking point guard for SDSU’s basketball team.

No San Diego State basketball players to this day have reached Gwynn’s records:

  • 221 assists in a season
  • 590 career assists.
  • 8.2 assists average is still a school record (1979-80)

I also find it ironic that he was drafted by his hometown team in both sports and who knows, might have remained a lifelong Clipper if he pursued a pro career in the NBA. Maybe, he would have convinced the team to even stay in San Diego.

Tony Gwynn ultimately made the right decision by donning cleats instead of sneakers, but I still wonder how his NBA career would have unfolded. No doubt his work ethic would have made him one of the best in the game at the point guard position.