Soon-to-be Hall of Famer will be honored March 10
SAN DIEGO -- Tony Gwynn will be back in a big league dugout for one night, coaching his San Diego State Aztecs in a college doubleheader at Petco Park on March 10.
The Aztecs will play Michigan in the nightcap of the Tony Gwynn 2007 Classic. Oklahoma will play San Diego in the first game.
The lineup was announced Tuesday, a week after Gwynn was elected to the Hall of Fame.
"They're going to honor me in between games, which will be cool, too, but I've got to win games," Gwynn said after a news conference at the downtown home of the San Diego Padres. "As a college coach, that's kind of where my focus is."
The games at Petco Park will be on the middle day of a three-day round-robin tournament. The other games will be played at SDSU's Tony Gwynn Stadium and USD.
"The kids are dying for the opportunity to come and play on a major league field and see what's it like, see how far 402 really is," Gwynn said, referring to the deepest part of the park in right-center field.
Three years ago, the Aztecs played the first game at Petco Park, beating the Houston Cougars 4-0 in front of 40,106 fans, the biggest crowd in college baseball history.
Gwynn is 113-132 in four seasons as coach at his alma mater, and hasn't gotten the Aztecs beyond the Mountain West Conference tournament.
Gwynn noted that Oklahoma, Michigan and USD all reached the regionals last year.
"We're the only team that hasn't been to one for a while, and boy we'd like test ourselves against quality baseball clubs," Gwynn said.
"Like any other college coach, I need to win some games this year. I need to get things headed in the right direction. And that's not to say we haven't done that. It's just that you finish 15 games under .500 last year, it kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth. So it's time to kind of get things going in the right direction."
Gwynn played 20 seasons for the Padres, winning eight NL batting titles and collecting 3,141 hits while batting .338 for his career.
He and Cal Ripken Jr. will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 29.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press