ST. LOUIS -- The baseball world joined the city of San Diego to mourn the loss of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who died from cancer at the age of 54 on Monday. His loss was felt particularly among former teammates and opponents in St. Louis.
Three members of the Cardinals' coaching staff -- pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, hitting coach John Mabry and bench coach Mike Aldrete -- spent part of their playing careers in San Diego as Gwynn's teammates.
"He is going to be missed by a lot of people," Lilliquist said. "He never wavered from [being a good teammate]. He was just a tremendous human being."
Gwynn, who hit .338 in his 20-year career with the Padres, played 92 games at Busch Stadium II and posted a career .302 average against the Cardinals. St. Louis actually had more success harnessing one of the all-time greatest hitters than most, as the only National League team to hold Gwynn to a lower average was the D-backs, who he faced just 30 times.
"He had the ability, like no other player that I've seen before or since, to take a pitcher's best pitch and just waste it, flip it over the opposing dugout and waste what the pitcher's best was and wait for you to come back and make a mistake," said Cardinals broadcaster Rick Horton, against whom Gwynn went 10-for-26 in his career. "You didn't fear him in the classic sense of pitching to Mike Schmidt or Andre Dawson in that era who were imposing guys at the plate. But you were so befuddled. Good offspeed hitter, good fastball hitter, in, out, up, down, it just didn't matter. He was just the consummate hitter."
As people reflected on Gwynn's career after his passing on Monday, they also spoke glowingly of Gwynn, the person.
"I was impressed by his heart to go back and coach," Horton said. "That really said something about him. A lot of big league players, especially superstars, the last thing they want to do is go coach college baseball. That was kind of unheard of. But that seemed to be his heart at that time, and I think that tells a little about the man, Tony Gwynn."
"It's a sad day for the game of baseball," added Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose Major League career overlapped eight years with Gwynn's. "I was always a big fan of Tony and how he went about playing the game. He was a great ambassador for the game of baseball. I got to spend a little time with him and [through that] realized how a pro went about this game. It's a sad day, especially for all the fans who followed him so closely in the San Diego area. But I think for the game as a whole, it's a big loss."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.