Government

Towering Tribute to Tony Gwynn Returns to County Building

The County of San Diego raised a 35-foot-high replica of Tony Gwynn’s number 19 jersey on the tower of the County Administration Center downtown Thursday to honor “Mr. Padre,” the baseball Hall of Famer and one of San Diego’s most beloved figures, who died of cancer Monday.

“This giant jersey will fly over the skyline to honor a giant of our community,” said San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob. “It’s June 19 — the perfect day to celebrate the great No. 19.”

The 35-by-30-foot jersey was created and first hung on the tower in 2007 when Gwynn was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s a replica of the jersey Gwynn wore in 1984 when he won the first of his record eight batting titles and the Padres beat the Chicago Cubs to go to the World Series for the first time.

Cox Communications underwrote the cost and installation of the jersey, which is expected to be kept up on the County Administration Center tower for the next month.

The supervisors also paid tribute to Gwynn with comments and video highlights at Tuesday’s Board meeting.

Gwynn was one of the greatest players in baseball history, known as the “greatest pure hitter” of his day. He also starred as a basketball point guard, in addition to baseball, at San Diego State University (SDSU) before his Padre career, and was SDSU’s head baseball coach for 12 years after he retired as a player.

But Gwynn was more than just an outstanding athlete. He was involved in the community and known for his generosity and infectious laugh. County residents have flocked to the statue of Gwynn just outside Petco Park downtown this week to leave flowers and mementos and to pay tribute. The San Diego Padres plan to hold a memorial and public tribute June 26 at Petco.