Tigers mourn Tony Gwynn’s death

DETROIT — It was a sad day in baseball as everyone was mourning the loss of Tony Gwynn.

The San Diego Padres said Gwynn, who was just 54 and had been fighting cancer, died Monday morning.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus played with Gwynn after being traded to San Diego.

"When I first went to the big leagues with San Diego, Tony kind of took a couple of the young guys under his wing," Ausmus said in the dugout Monday afternoon. "We used to have a four-some of golf, during the strike of ’94, offseasons — we used to play golf until I stopped playing because I wasn’t getting any better. We started out even, then Tony kept getting better and I wasn’t, so I let Tony play on his own."

Torii Hunter remembered meeting Gwynn early in his career.

"I talked to him a lot when I was younger, before he got out of the game," Hunter said. "I woke up this morning, saw that. You talk about a great man, loved giving back. By him going back to San Diego State to coach, that shows that he’s being fruitful and giving it back and trying to teach these kids to go to the next level, whether it’s baseball, whether it’s in life. He did that."

Hunter said as good a player as Gwynn was, he was a better person.

"He was awesome. He didn’t have to talk to this young guy named Torii," Hunter said. "He shared some information as far as playing the game, hitting. That’s something that I will cherish forever, just like all the other players that kind of poured into me. He’s one of those guys. I definitely think that he’s gonna be missed. I know he will."

Via his Twitter account, former Tigers general manager Randy Smith said, "I will always remember T’s great laugh and smile. He was magical to watch play. Could do anything he wanted with the bat."

Ausmus said that Gwynn was a trailblazer of sorts when it came to working on hitting.

"He was really the first guy I played with that delved into video," Ausmus said. "He had the little mini-8 player. In fact, I got one. He’d get the videos on the little cassettes and you could play them anywhere, portable video player. He was the first guy that really analyzed things on video, not only what he was doing, but what the pitcher was doing.

"Video’s taken off, really, since that time. As a matter of fact, the Padres ended up putting in a big expensive video unit in the clubhouse because of Tony."

Hunter said there won’t be another player quite like Gwynn.

"He’s rare," Hunter said. "You talk about his craft, God blessed him with an eye, hand-eye coordination, to hit the ball anytime he wanted to, anywhere he wanted to. In a big situation he always got that big hit. So I definitely think that, besides Victor (Martinez), he’s one of the most professional hitters in all of baseball. He’s special. We’re gonna miss him. We lost a great man, a great baseball player today."