Tonight I joined thousands of other San Diegans at Petco Park to honor the late Tony Gwynn, the greatest Padres player ever…and one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the sport.
I apologize that my camera takes very poor long distance shots. There were many speakers paying tribute to Tony, and my photos of the distant stage and podium came out terribly.
A few photographs seem to have captured the spirit of the occasion. Here they are…
Nineteen doves were released after a choir opened the service, singing: “I’m not here, but I’m not far. My spirit lives on.”
Ted Leitner, long-time Padres radio announcer, said that we’d never forget the greatest hitter of his generation. He then asked the crowd to provide one last standing ovation. During the memorial tribute, Ted played a recording of Tony’s unforgettable laugh from a cell phone.
There were scores of distinguished guests, and several speakers remembered Tony Gwynn for the cheering crowd.
Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, gave a Yankee salute to Tony and his family. San Diego’s mayor spoke, and so did the Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball. Tony La Russa and Joe Torre stood up in the VIP section to loud applause. On the big video screen, tributes were offered by former teammates and opponents alike. In old videos, Tony Gwynn was treated with respect by contemporary baseball greats, including Mike Schmidt, Cal Ripken, Greg Maddux, Tommy Lasorda and many others.
Every guest speaker at the memorial seemed to agree that Tony was an inspiration to all those around him. To many he was a mentor, and to all he was a friend.