BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- As the baseball world mourned the loss of Tony Gwynn, so too did Pete Rose.
With his head bowed in the Bridgeport Bluefish dugout during a moment of silence, he remembered the star that he called his friend.
“The only bad thing about Tony Gwynn was that he played in San Diego,” Rose said. “When you have a guy like Tony Gwynn, who was such a good player, such a good hitter and such a good ambassador to the game, those are the kind of guys you need on TV because everyone needs to see him. He was hiding out there and you’d rather him be in New York or L.A. -- not Cincinnati, but we were good.”
While he may not have approved of the location where Gwynn ripped many base hits, Rose did admire the way Gwynn honed his craft unlike anyone else in the league.
“Tony Gwynn probably put more into hitting than anyone that I’d ever met,” Rose recalled. “He was a workaholic. He was a little different than me because he was a guy that would watch film all the time. Every day you went to the ballpark in San Diego, Tony would be out there hitting religiously every day.”
Gwynn died Monday at the age of 54 after a long battle with cancer. Rose witnessed Gwynn’s battle with the disease up close when San Diego State would pass through Rose’s home of Las Vegas.
But with talk of Mr. Padre’s passing, a troubled look and extended pause was all Rose could muster.
“At 54 years old, it’s way too young. We’ll miss him. He was a real good guy.”