One of the best hitters in the history of the game, Gwynn played all 20 of his seasons with the Padres, amassing 3,141 career hits, eight National League batting titles and five Gold Gloves.
Gwynn was well known in San Diego before his big league debut in 1982: he was a star for San Diego State in both baseball and basketball.
It was after Gwynn’s last basketball season for the Aztecs that then-Astros scout Gordon Lakey first saw the future 15-time all-star.
Lakey was impressed with Gywnn and made the following notes (see full report below):
• “Very good fastball hitter with excellent bat speed.”
• “Restricted to IF and must hit to play, but is desireable.”
• “Could be a good hitter some day.”
Lakey, who is now director of major league scouting for the Phillies, was right: Gywnn was a good hitter for every day he wore the Padres uniform from 1982 to 2001. His .338 career batting average was the highest mark for a player since Ted Williams retired with a .344 average in 1960.
To put it another way, if Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter — a .312 career hitter himself — matched Gwynn’s .338 career average, the future Hall of Famer would have nearly 300 more hits on his staggering career total of 3,380.