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Padres plan public tribute to Tony Gwynn on June 26 at Petco Park

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SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Padres have scheduled a public tribute to Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn for June 26 at Petco Park.

Gwynn died of cancer Monday. He was 54.

The tribute will start at 7:19 p.m., symbolic because Gwynn made his Padres debut on July 19, 1982. Gwynn also wore No. 19.

Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler said the tribute will be similar to the one held at Petco Park on Jan. 18 for Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman, who died on Jan. 5 at 89.

Fowler said the Padres are finalizing a list of speakers. He said they will include people important to Gwynn's Padres and San Diego State careers. Gwynn played baseball and basketball at SDSU and had been the school's baseball coach since just after the 2002 season.

"I've lived through his career in San Diego," Fowler said. "I've lived through all the good things Tony has done for the community. I miss him personally. Although I knew he was ill, I was just shocked when I found out that he passed away.

"He's a special human being and I don't think we'll ever have a Padre that will be his equal again," Fowler said. "That doesn't mean we're not going to have great ballplayers, but Tony was once-in-a-lifetime. Arguably the best hitter in the last 50 years of baseball."

Prior to Wednesday night's game against Seattle, Padres players and coaches gathered around a large No. 19 painted on the grass in right field, which was Gwynn's position.

Mark Martinez, Gwynn's top assistant at San Diego State, threw the ceremonial first pitch to Padres manager Bud Black, who was Gwynn's teammate with the Aztecs for one season.

The Padres held a 19-second moment of silence for Gwynn.

The Padres are wearing a patch with No. 19 inside a home plate logo on their jerseys, over the players' hearts. They're wearing a JC star patch to honour Coleman.

Coleman used to shout, "You can hang a star on that, baby!" after big plays.

The Padres received permission from MLB to wear a special cap to honour Gwynn, with a white front and the 19 home plate logo on one side.

Gwynn played his entire 20-season career with the Padres. He had 3,141 hits — 18th on the all-time list — a career .338 average and won eight batting titles to tie Honus Wagner's NL record. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, along with Cal Ripken Jr.

There was far more to the man.

___

Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson

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