However, I got up this morning and read about the Major League Baseball All Star game last night. I didn’t get to see it last night, though I normally watch some of it, especially the pre-game and the story lines surrounding some of the player selections.
I love the great game. It has meant much to me…in my relationship to my father and then the joy of passing on the love of the game to my boys.
If you are not a fan of the game, the rest of this post may mean nothing to you. But if you know anything about baseball history, this article will make you both sad and angry. Maybe not as much as me, but you’re probably not a native San Diego son…
Just a month ago the sports world stopped in its tracks and paid tribute to a great man who left us far too soon. San Diego Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn lost a courageous battle with cancer on June 16 at the age of 54, and almost exactly a month later, Major League Baseball failed to honor his memory at its midsummer classic. In fact, Gwynn’s name was never even mentioned on the broadcast.
Think about that for a minute. Tony Gwynn is universally regarded as one of the best hitters in baseball history. The league and Fox had a month to figure out some way to honor him at the biggest baseball event of the summer and came up with nothing. In a pregame ceremony we got Idina Menzel signing a Bob Dylan song (because why wouldn’t you have that before a baseball game?) and a tribute to 30 teachers. But zero mention of one of the best, most respected and most beloved baseball players to ever walk the Earth.
When Ted Williams died just before the 2002 All-Star Game, Major League Baseball responded by naming the game’s MVP Award after him. Couldn’t they have done something for Gwynn with a month to prepare? What about naming the National League batting title or the Silver Slugger for a right fielder after him? After all, he won eight (yes, eight) National League batting titles and seven Silver Slugger Awards.
No, instead baseball whitewashed his name from the event.
While we can all agree that Tuesday was Derek Jeter’s night and it was nice seeing him honored, the Fox broadcast mentioned Jeter’s name 100 times. That would have been fine, except Gwynn’s was never spoken. That’s absolutely ridiculous. The game was on for three-and-a-half hours, and nothing!
Jeter has had an amazing, Hall of Fame career, and has made an unbelievable 14 All-Star Game appearances and that fact was mentioned over and over again as a mark of a truly great player. Gwynn made 15.
They couldn’t have taken a minute to even do a quick video piece on Gwynn or discuss how much he is and will be missed? Or what about showing some of his classic All-Star Game highlights, like when he scored the game-winning run in 1994 in one of the most memorable moments in the history of the All-Star Game? George Steinbrenner died the day of the All-Star Game in 2010 and baseball put together a moment of silence for him. And tons of people hated Steinbrenner.
What really happened on Tuesday night is that Fox and Major League Baseball further proved the long-held belief that if you don’t play in a major market, they don’t really care about you. And that’s sad, because some kid watching the All-Star Game Tuesday night who was born after Gwynn retired might have seen a tribute and asked his dad about the great No. 19, what he did, who he was and what he stood for. The fact that a moment like that may never happen is a shame, because everyone should know about Tony Gwynn and what kind of player, person and ambassador for the game he was.
Aside from being one of the best hitters of all-time – certainly the best of his generation and even the best since World War II – Tony Gwynn was everything we hope our star athletes are like. He was kind, smart, funny and loved his fans as much as they loved him. He was dedicated to the community and on top of all that, he played the game with a smile and looked like he was genuinely having fun doing it.
The thing about the late, great Mr. Gwynn is that he would probably laugh off all the outrage people are currently spewing about him being snubbed. He’d flash that wonderful smile, give that chuckle we all knew so well and shake his head. But I’m not as forgiving as Tony and I certainly won’t laugh it off or forget about it.
You can read the whole article here.