The volume of extraordinary Tony Gwynn tributes has been nearly impossible to keep up with — LBS has a good collection of them here — but Keith Olbermann’s was especially worth highlighting. Olbermann recounted the times that Gwynn was elated to meet Ted Williams, or legendary Yankee Stadium P.A. announcer Bob Sheppard, the former Padre’s unfathomable hitting numbers, and the 1998 SI story Olbermann wrote on Gwynn’s hitting slump:
Imminent cataclysm is not implied here. “Oh, yeah,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said the day that Gwynn hit the 0-for-15 mark at Dodger Stadium, “we’ll be sending Tony down to [Triple A] Las Vegas any day now.” Dodgers announcer Ross Porter noted that Gwynn’s 0 for 19 could have gone on just a little bit longer before his lifetime .300 average would be jeopardized. After Sunday’s game the exact figure was 0 for 1,109, at which point he’d still be hitting .299511.
Of course by then his equally extraordinary good humor might have waned a bit, too. When I saw Gwynn in the dugout at Dodger Stadium, he was holding a small metallic device in one hand, so I asked him about the hamstring he had aggravated reaching for Cal Ripken’s double at the All-Star Game. I pointed at the machine and asked, “Is that your electric stimulator? Is that your stim?”
Gwynn laughed hard. “No, man. That’s my mini-CD player. Will you relax?”
“You don’t have to have had the privilege of knowing him to be heartbroken right now,” Olbermann said. “What you hoped he was like, he was like.”
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