Tony Gwynn’s bat was his magic wand

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You like baseball. Tim Kurkjian loves baseball. So whereas we await its return, daily we’ll give you a narrative or two tied to this date in baseball historical past.

ON THIS DATE IN 1960, Tony Gwynn was born.

Hitting is a lot about hand-eye coordination, and nobody had extra of it than Tony Gwynn. It’s why he completed with a .338 common and eight batting titles; solely Ty Cobb had extra. It’s why he hit .300 for 19 straight seasons; solely Cobb had an extended streak. It’s how he hit .368 for a five-year interval; even Ted Williams did not do this. And it’s why Gwynn by no means struck out greater than 40 occasions in a season, he had 297 three-hit video games, one three-strikeout recreation.

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Gwynn’s eyes had been so good, he may see the split-fingered fastball grip utilized by Astros pitcher Shane Reynolds as quickly Reynolds took the ball out of his glove. I requested if anybody else may see that. “I do not suppose so,” he stated. He stated he may see Randy Johnson’s slider so properly, he thought it was simpler for a left-handed hitter to hit Johnson’s slider than a right-handed hitter. To which J.T Snow stated, “Nicely, solely Tony can say that.”

Throughout batting follow earlier than Sport 1 of the 1998 World Sequence at Yankee Stadium, Gwynn, then 38, stormed out of the cage and yelled to nobody specifically.

“I am unable to see in any respect like I used to!” he stated.

“What, is your imaginative and prescient now solely 20/20?” I requested.

“No,” he stated, “it is 20/15, and I am unable to see in any respect like I used to!”

Gwynn’s arms had been small; he performed basketball for 4 years at San Diego State, however could not palm a ball. As a result of his arms had been so small, he used a tiny bat: 33 inches, 30½ ounces. Gwynn referred to his bats as “Seven Grains of Ache.” Gwynn was a magician on the plate, his bats had been his wands. “These days, some hitters use bats as extra of a battering ram,” stated catcher Brad Ausmus, a teammate in San Diego. “Tony used his bats extra as a paintbrush.”

A kind of bats he used nearly completely for your complete 1994 season, a season wherein he batted .394, however due to the baseball strike that yr, he was denied a shot to develop into the primary participant to hit .400 since Williams in 1941. Gwynn would solely use one other bat when he was going through a hard-throwing left-hander who would possibly get the ball in on him, resembling Jeff Fassero, and presumably break his bat.

“I liked that bat,” Gwynn stated. “The subsequent spring coaching, I broke it taking batting follow on a again subject towards Peach [Padres coach Rob Picciolo]. I nearly began to cry.”

“So did I,” Picciolo stated.

Different baseball notes for Could 9

  • In 1888, Louisville’s Elton “Icebox” Chamberlain pitched the primary seven innings of a recreation right-handed, the final two left-handed.

  • In 2010, the A’s Dallas Braden threw the 19th excellent recreation in main league historical past. It got here in his fourth season: His first full recreation was an ideal recreation. Braden’s grandmother stays such an integral a part of his life. “She is the one one I needed to see after I got here off the mound,” Braden stated. “I could not discover her. She wasn’t in her seats. Then I discovered her, standing on high of the dugout, in her 60s. That was the spotlight of my day.”

  • In 1979, pitcher Brandon Webb was born. His motion on his sinker was so violent, and so pure, teammates had bother enjoying catch with him earlier than a recreation.

  • In 1984, Harold Baines hit a walk-off homer off Chuck Porter within the 25th inning. Baines is a person of few phrases. After a walk-off homer, he was as soon as requested by a TV reporter, “Nicely, you bought all of that one.” To which Baines replied, “Evidently.”

  • In 1984, Prince Fielder was born. It’s why he wore No. 84 for his remaining staff, the Rangers. He completed his profession with 319 homers, precisely the identical whole as his father, Cecil.

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