Jay Paris: Gwynn was Mr. Padre in various ways

The music plays on and that’s how it is with the greats.

Tony Gwynn was just that, and is there anything left to be said regarding his passing?

Yes, especially if you’re fortunate enough to be a parent.

Gwynn’s accomplishments as a player has few peers. One could fill a column for a year on how he hit countless balls off a T, toiled in batting cages in the fading light, honed his craft like someone headed to the minors instead of the Hall of Fame.

But where did Gwynn’s drive, dedication and realization that there are no shortcuts to greatness stem?

It came from his dad and Gwynn made sure every day was Father’s Day by living his advice.

“If you work hard, good things will happen.’’

That was Charles Gwynn’s message and Gwynn never stopped drinking from that cup of knowledge. That quote is at the base of Gwynn’s statue. It’s near the foundation, of course, as those words were just that for his remarkable 20-year career.

Gwynn did the work and wanted the good. If he got a hit, he wanted two. Then two became three and if he had three, why not make it four?

Gwynn never squandered an at-bat. That would be cheating himself, and his dad, and it’s not hard deciphering which one would have hurt him more.

You sense Gwynn’s love for his father through his affection for his son, Tony Gwynn, Jr.

We’re reminded of that by Trevor Hoffman, another Padres icon not adverse to sweat.

“I remember seeing Anthony as an 8-, 9-, 10-year-old boy in the locker room and him looking up to his dad,’’ Hoffman said. “He wanted to learn so much. He was appreciative to be in the clubhouse and watching Tony be respective of the clubhouse.

“Yet Tony was giving Anthony a platform to spread his wings, be an individual and learn the game of baseball from one of the greats.’’

There’s no greater responsibility than raising a child. While most point to Gwynn’s astounding statistics, it’s the No. 2 he’s most proud of: his son, and Anisha, his daughter.

Gwynn loved yapping, that’s a given. But mention his son winding his way through the minors or daughter’s singing career and it was an automatic 15 minutes of GT — Gwynn Talk.

Their stars where shinning on their own and their superstar father swelled with pride.

Watching Gwynn swing a bat made us think we could do it; his stroke was so effortless and easy.

Then you contemplate trying differentiate a 95 mph fastball from a 12-to-6 curveball and good luck with that.

You couldn’t do it and that was as plain as the grin on Gwynn’s face.

But if you’re a parent, or a role model for a kid, you can BLT — Be Like Tony.

“It was great to be able to hear so many great words spoken about the man versus the ballplayer,’’ said Rancho Santa Fe’s Hoffman, when reflecting on Gwynn’s tribute.

“It is a rarity when there’s such talk about someone in his rarefied area as a ballplayer. There usually is a deficit in one area or the other. That wasn’t the case with Tony.’’

The same can be said of Hoffman, whose had the torch of being the Padres’ most noted ex-player passed to him.

Hoffman has the Gwynn gift, too.

He’s more proud of his three sons than any of his 601 saves. He said as much in his speech on that somber night, how he and his wife, Tracy, had their role models as parents in Tony and Alicia.

Gwynn handled his offspring as well as his 31-ounce bat.

You can be a hit by keeping Gwynn alive by furthering his appreciation for children.

“Any man would want their legacy to be about being humble, a great husband and a great father,’’ Hoffman said.

Which brings us back to music and isn’t how this column started? Hoffman never shook Charles Gwynn’s hand but he felt his beat.

“The one connection I probably had was his dad loved jazz,’’ said Hoffman, whose dad, Ed, was a musician. “I think Tony got a little tired of the rock ‘n’ roll we played in the locker room.

“He handed me a CD one time that was a compilation of a bunch of modern jazz and it’s still one of my favorites.’’

Gwynn’s gone. But he left behind more than what is on the back of his baseball card.

Contact Jay Paris at jparis8@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports



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