He was 9 years old when his dad finally let him come onto the field prior to games. But Tony Gwynn Jr. was no stranger to a ballpark.
Gwynn Jr. had seen it all, and being the son of baseball royalty -- the late great Tony Gwynn -- he has had a front-row seat to plenty of talented ballplayers. And that includes former Giants slugger Barry Bonds, who Gwynn Jr. believes should be considered in rarified air.
"Barry should be on everybody's Mount Rushmore," Gwynn Jr. said on NBC Sports Bay Area's "Balk Talk" podcast. "I don't care about none of the side stuff. This dude is one of the greatest players -- you could argue is the greatest player -- to ever lace them up."
Bonds and the elder Gwynn played countless times in NL West battles between the Giants and San Deigo Padres, and the younger Gwynn saw plenty of it firsthand.
“Listen, the NL West has always been pretty difficult, but when you get a guy like Barry Bonds that comes over here, it’s a game- it’s a divisional changer,” Gwynn Jr.
“The Giants go from being a team that’s pretty good in the thick of things to all of a sudden having the guy in the league.”
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Gwynn Jr. also discussed some of the exchanges between Bonds and his dad, two of the game's most astute hitters.
“My dad and him always had a really good relationship and they used to love to talk hitting -- they used different terminology, which used to have them butting heads, but the funny thing was they were really saying the exact same thing.”
“They always had a healthy respect for one another,” Gwynn Jr. added.
And Gwynn Jr., after playing eight seasons of his own in the MLB, now hosts a radio show in San Diego. As someone who had started watching the game at such a young age, and with a better view than the rest of us, he really liked what Bonds did for the game of baseball.
Bonds had this way of making you stop what you were doing and immediately turn on the television to watch his at-bat. Bonds was lucky to get one hittable pitch during those appearances, but we tuned in anyway.
That simply doesn’t happen anymore.
Gwynn Jr., despite beginning in the league in 2006, wants players like Seattle Mariners infielder Dee Gordon to be showcased, or free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig’s weird bat-licking abilities to be watched.
“We got to find a way to market the guys that are marketable,” he said.