The University of Miami baseball community greeted a legend this weekend at Mark Light Field.
Former San Diego Padres right fielder and future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn was in town as the new head coach of the San Diego State Aztecs baseball club. When asked about the decision to coach after such an illustrious career, the gentle hearted Gwynn simply stated it was “for love of the game.”
“I didn’t want to retire and go fish or play golf,” Gwynn said. “I wanted to do something that I loved. I don’t love fishing or golf, but I love baseball, and that is why I am doing it.”
Talking about adjusting to the college level, Gwynn noted the changes.
“The adjustments aren’t that big of a deal,” Gwynn said. “The game is the same, you have to execute on both levels. It is all about execution.”
“If you make a mistake the good teams will make you pay for it, and with the aluminum bats they can make you pay even further.”
Gwynn returns to his alma mater after playing his collegiate ball for San Diego State from 1979 to 1981.
” I love it and I think it’s wonderful,” Gwynn said. “It is a little frustrating right now because we seem to be in every game but we cant seem to win one.”
“Being recently retired I am getting a lot of attention which is putting the team on the map, but to really be recognized, we have to start beating some of these teams, and I think that will come with time.”
Gwynn’s son, Anthony, plays center field for the Aztecs. Gwynn denies that his son had anything to do with his decision to coach the team.
“Not at all,” Gwynn said. “I love coaching my son, but when he is gone in a couple of years, I am still going to be here doing my thing. Some people don’t believe that but I will just go on proving them wrong just like I have been doing for the past twenty years.”
When asked about his role in the baseball community, Gwynn had this to say.
” I really don’t see myself as an ambassador to baseball,” Gwynn said. “I just simply have a lot of fun being involved in this game and I am going to do so for a long time.”
Among his many accomplishments, Gwynn played 20 years with the Padres, sporting a .338 career batting average including eight National League batting titles, five Gold Glove awards and 15 appearances in the annual All-Star Game.
Ryan Ellis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.