You didn't have to be a fan of the San Diego Padres, or Baseball for that matter to be a fan of the late Tony Gwynn. He had been battling cancer for several years. He was largely the nicest man in sports. Ask anyone, he really was.

Gwynn was Mister Baseball in San Diego, spending his entire 20 year career with the Padres, in spite of mega millions of dollars offered to him to go elsewhere. Only 54, Gwynn had been ravaged by salivary gland cancer. He was 54. Gwynn retired after the 2001 season with a .338 average, 3,141 hits, two World Series appearances and 8 batting titles.

Tony was possibly the best pure hitter since the legendary Ted Williams, a man he deeply admired, and later befriended. They shared a lot in common, Williams grew up in a scrappy neighborhood just east of downtown San Diego, and played for Minor League Padres before his Major League career with The Red Sox. Gwynn was capable of hitting home runs, but really focused on well-placed hits and consistency.

"Major League Baseball today mourns the tragic loss of Tony Gwynn, the greatest Padre ever and one of the most accomplished hitters that our game has ever known, whose all-around excellence on the field was surpassed by his exuberant personality and genial disposition in life," MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said today in a statement.

It is nearly forgotten today, but in 1994 he was inching towards becoming the first 400 hitter in baseball since Ted Williams himself. Keep in mind Gwynn was hitting at .394 before the strike shortened the baseball season. Farewell to one of the best who ever played the game.