Today is Tony Gwynn‘s 54th birthday.

I can hardly believe Tony is 54.  It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in Jack Murphy Stadium (notice I didn’t say Qualcomm?) watching him battle Willie McGee or Will Clark for a batting title.*

*I’m old.  No, seriously, I’m really old now.

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Allow me to tell you a funny story that involved Tony and my brother, Mark.

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1987. A bad Padres team, a Tony Gwynn batting title. For any Padres fan in their late 20s and  above, this is pretty much par for the course. 1987 is the foundation upon which my Padres fandom has been built; 1987 is burned into my soul. While 1984 got me to take notice of all the fun everyone was having (I was 4, so come on!), 1987 was the year I began to have a concept of how to appreciate the game. With that, I started collecting baseball cards.

I did love my baseball cards. I’ve heard stories about people driving all over town buying every pack they could, in an attempt to find a Ken Griffey Jr Upper Deck rookie card. That was never me, though. I took care of my cards, but I couldn’t have cared less what Beckett had to say about their value. They were a window, and it allowed me to get a glimpse inside of a game which (up to that point) had been relegated to 51 (road) games on channel 51. They allowed me to learn about things like John Kruk’s potent bat having earned him a job as a 4th outfielder. And that Walla Walla, Washington had a baseball team. Baseball cards were gospel to this young fan.

Which is why I am haunted by Tim Pyznarski. Read More…