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Padres honor Gwynn with memorial at Petco Park

AP - Sports

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Padres honored Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn with a memorial at Petco Park on Thursday night that was attended by MLB dignitaries, former teammates and approximately 20,000 fans.

Gwynn, who spent his 20-year career with the Padres, died June 16 from oral cancer, a disease he attributed to years of chewing tobacco.

He was 54.

The 15-time All Star had 3,141 hits and won eight NL batting titles. A two-sport star at San Diego State before getting selected by the Padres in the third round of the 1981 draft, he was beloved for his achievements and humility on and off the field.

Gwynn never hid his affection for San Diego, embracing his ''Mr. Padre'' nickname and declining to leave San Diego as a free agent on numerous occasions. After retiring from the Padres following the 2001 season, Gwynn became SDSU's baseball coach.

''He was blessed to play here and then he decided this was the place for him,'' former teammate Steve Garvey said. ''Did he make less money because of that? Absolutely.

''But he loved the people, he loved this team. He wanted to be able to play for one team his whole life and that was fabulous when he and Cal Ripken, two guys that played for one team, went into the Hall of Fame together.''

Gwynn, a .338 lifetime hitter, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also the 1999 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, which goes to the player exemplifying sportsmanship and community involvement.

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