Three members of the Texas Rangers’ coaching staff had the good fortune of being teammates with Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn, who died Monday after a long battle with cancer.
Andy Hawkins spent the most time with Gwynn, who was 54. They first became teammates in 1981 while playing for Double A Amarillo in the San Diego Padres organization and were together again a year later at Triple A Honolulu.
Gwynn was called to the majors in 1982 about a month before Hawkins.
“Tony was my first roommate in the big leagues,” said Hawkins, who roomed with Gwynn the rest of the season and played with him until 1988. “Tony was salt of the earth. Always had a smile. Always in a good mood. He loved the game. He was a baseball rat. Every time I saw him on the field, he was having a ball.”
Pitching coach Mike Maddux was with Gwynn in 1991 and 1992, and was blown away by Gwynn’s instincts. If Maddux needed help getting a hitter out, Gwynn could break down his swing and suggest how Maddux should pitch to him.
Hitting coach Dave Magadan was with Gwynn toward the end of their careers, from 1999-2001. They were in the same role as part-time players who were counted on to pinch-hit.
“We sat and talked a lot about hitting,” Magadan said. “A lot of the routines I do now in the cage with the guys are directly related to conversations that we had. He was a big proponent of the tee and things that you can do off the tee to improve your bat path.”
All three of manager Ron Washington’s assistants said that Gwynn was a terrific teammate with a tireless work ethic.
“He was a Hall of Fame player and a Hall of Game guy,” Hawkins said. “It’s a tough deal.”