SAN DIEGO – Eight years after the death of Padres legend Tony Gwynn, his presence still looms large over the franchise and the city he called home for much of his life.
Now, the Friars want to give back to the community in the name of the late “Mr. Padre.”
On what would have been Gwynn’s 62nd birthday Monday, the club announced a new initiative called the Tony Gwynn Community All-Star Program. Students ages 18 and under can apply for one of four $5,000 grants by detailing their work with local nonprofits to help underserved parts of the San Diego community, the team said in a news release.
Applications can be submitted until June 4 with winners slated to be recognized in a pregame ceremony at Petco Park later this year. The date of the ceremony was not disclosed.
In the application, students are asked to share how they got involved with their respective organizations, how the work aligns with their passions and how getting the grant would benefit the community. For the winners, the $5,000 payout goes to their organization in the winner’s name, the team said.
Nominations are being accepted online by clicking or tapping here.
Gwynn was a dynamic player in his 20-year career with the Padres as well as his time before and after his professional baseball career at San Diego State University. He was a 15-time All-Star, winning the National League batting title eight times, the Silver Slugger seven times and five Gold Gloves.
He also appeared on both of the Padres’ World Series teams in 1984 and 1998, respectively. Gwynn was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
He later died in 2014 following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Even today, Gwynn is seemingly never far from Petco Park. His No. 19 jersey remains a staple for fans and his bronze statue just beyond the ballpark’s outfield pays tribute to his years when he was one of baseball’s top hitters. His son and former big leaguer Tony Gwynn Jr. also serves as one of the team’s radio broadcasters.
Gwynn will be honored during Monday’s game. His wife, Alicia, will toss the game’s ceremonial first pitch to Tony Jr. and his daughter, Anisha, will sing the National Anthem.
The club also will hand out 35,000 Gwynn jersey shirts to fans Monday.