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Thursday, October 4, 2001
Updated: October 5, 9:50 AM ET

Tony Gwynn


Page 2 staff

Everyone's kissing Cal Ripken's feet as he's heading out the door, but don't forget Tony Gwynn is leaving, too.

Tony Gwynn
Tony Gwynn says he can remember about two-thirds of his 3,000-plus hits in the majors and some at-bats he had in college.
Gwynn has 3,000-plus hits, and more batting titles than any one in the history of baseball other than Rogers Hornsby and Ty Cobb. He also has a son in college -- a son who was born his rookie year. That's how long he has been around, long enough to handle anything, even Page 2's 10 Burning Questions.

1. Page 2: Do you remember your wardrobe from your first big-league road trip?
Gwynn: Yeah, I do. It was San Diego State leftovers. Black blazer, white shirt, black slacks. And I remember being on the plane to Houston, and Broderick Perkins saying, "Son, you're in the big leagues now -- you've got to upgrade." He and Gene Richards were ragging the crap out of me: "Hey, yo, dog, you got your grandfather's jacket on? What's going on?" Because the jacket I had was kind of big. I wasn't as big then as I am now, but I was probably about a 46 then, and it was still too big. And, of course, I had my white shirt with my Aztec red tie, and my black slacks, and it was not good. Not good.

2. Has anyone ever thrown one of your home run balls back?
Gwynn: At Wrigley, they always threw it back. The first home run I hit was at Wrigley Field off Bill Campbell, and it went in the basket in right field. And the guy reached over and threw it back. And it was great -- because I got the ball. I got the ball! Even later on in my career, even though I'd done some things in the game, they still threw it back. In Chicago. New York. Philly. I hit a grand slam in Philly, and they threw it back, which was great. Because that was my first one. Thirteen years in the big leagues and never had one. So I got to keep that one, too.

3. What's your favorite heckle of all time?
Wrigley fans
The fans at Wrigley Field always pulled out all the stops in taunting Gwynn.
Gwynn: Wrigley Field. Without question. "Fee Fi Fo Fum, Tony Gwynn's a %#@&-ing bum." And in your first big-league game at Wrigley Field, that's intimidating as hell. It is. I mean, Wrigley was great. They pulled out all the stuff. "Get the cheeseburgers out of your pocket." And they called me "Snack Bar." They threw Snicker bars at me. They ragged me about as good as you can be ragged, I think.

4. What at-bat do you put in the VCR when it's 3 a.m. and you can't sleep?
Gwynn: The home run I hit in the World Series at Yankee Stadium. Without question. Poor David Wells. If he could see me at night looking at that over and over again, he'd probably get pissed off at me.

4a. How many of your 3,000-plus hits can you remember? Actually remember?
Gwynn: Two thousand, probably. Of course, video has helped me remember a lot of them. But it is freaky. I can remember college at-bats.

4b. Is there one at-bat you wish you could take back?
Gwynn: Sure, and it's vivid in my mind. It was 1985 or so. I'm 0-for-4, and we're winning like 13-1, and everybody in the lineup's got a hit but me. And Buck Rogers decides he's going to bring Vance Law in from second base to pitch. And I'm hitting second in the inning, and I know I don't want to hit against this guy. But how do you tell Dick Williams you don't want to hit off a guy? I'm not gonna tell him. I'm gonna go up there and take my hacks. So I go up there, and he goes knuckleball-strike, breaking ball-strike, BP heater ... and I roll over an 18-hopper to second base, and they throw me out. And of course my teammates are ragging, the Expo guys are laughing, because he just got me out. It still bothers me today. Still.

5. What's your most memorable clubhouse meeting of all-time?
Gwynn: Well, there's the one where I got my chops busted in New York. They set me up. Jack Clark takes a soda and throws it across the room and says, "The reason why the Padres suck is because Gwynn is a selfish mother." And I'm, "What? What you talking about?"

6. Do you keep an old brown and yellow, taco-colored Padre uniform hanging in your closet?
Gwynn: Oh, yeah. I mean, that was my first uniform, and at that time, I didn't know if I'd be worth a damn, to be honest with you. So I kept one. Do I try it on? Hell, no (unbridled laughter).

7. What's the first thing you bought with a big-league paycheck?
Gwynn: Well, I was making $32,500, and my first big-league paycheck was worth $3,000 and some change. So my wife and I, we thought we were rich. And we went right to some store and bought her some maternity clothes.

8. Do you own your rookie card?
Gwynn: Don't really want it. Because I hate it. I mean, mine is the kind you don't want to be stuck with the rest of your life. Big Afro, I'm running to first base, the camera is shooting from behind so my ass is right in the middle of the card. That's not the card I want to be stuck with. But the bottom line is, that's what I'm stuck with.

9. What's the funniest thing a catcher or umpire said or did to you at the plate?
Gwynn: Two things. Tony Pena, every time I used to go to the plate, he used to spit on my shoes. We wore white shoes that first year, and he's spitting all over my shoes.

The other thing, we were in Montreal one night, and Gary Carter's catching. I'm like 3-for-3, and I come up, and he says, "You know what, Tony? We've had no luck trying to trick you, so I'm just gonna tell you what's coming." And Doug Harvey's behind the plate. So Gary Carter says, "OK, T, here comes a fastball -- inner half." And I took it, because I didn't believe it. So that's strike one. And he smiles to himself.

I step back and I look at him and look at Doug, and I say, "Doug, he's not supposed to do that. He can't tell me what's coming."

He says, "There's nothing in the rulebook that says he can't."

And I say, "I don't want to know what's coming! I just want to react to what I see."

And Carter says, "Tony, breaking ball. We're gonna throw you a backdoor slider right here, you're going to have to stay on it to hit it."

And I'm going, "He ain't gonna throw no backdoor slider."

And it was, and Doug Harvey's yelling, "Steee-trike two!"

I say, "Wait a minute, Doug, he cannot tell me what's coming. You can't do that."

He says, "T, there's nothing in the rulebook."

So, he's got me 0-2, and now he's telling me everything. Curveball, fastball, slider. So I decide to react to what I see, and I ground out to short, and as I go back to the dugout, Carter's horse-laughing. And Doug Harvey's got a chaw in, and he's kind of sniggling, too. There was nothing I could say, but it was just horsecrap. They can't tell me what's coming. That's not fair, that's not baseball.

10. Are you disappointed there's never been a "Tony Gwynn Bobble Head" night?
Gwynn: Actually, they had one here in September. Unfortunately. I guess a "bobble head night" means you've arrived. So I guess I've arrived as I'm going out the door.