Perhaps the most interesting and telling story about Tony Gwynn, though, came from Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Kepner tells the story of when he was a teenager writing for his own magazine that he published out of his house. Kepner was greeted warmly by Gwynn every time the Padres came to town. On one occasion, Gwynn noticed that Kepner was wearing a Vanderbilt golf shirt and asked if Kepner was a student at Vanderbilt. I'll let Kepner finish the story:
When I said yes, he lit up. The Padres beat writer Buster Olney, of The San Diego Union-Tribune, also went there, Gwynn said excitedly. "You've got to meet him!" he said.
Pause for a moment to consider how rare this is. Few players would bother to notice a detail on a reporter's shirt. Few would know which college the team's beat writer had attended. Fewer still would then offer, with genuine enthusiasm, to play matchmaker.
But that was Gwynn. When our interview ended, he went back to the clubhouse, found Olney and brought him to the dugout to meet me. A few years later, Olney was writing for the New York Times, and he recommended me for a job. Gwynn had set me on my career path.That truly does say volumes about what kind of person Gwynn was. He will certainly be missed.
I'll write about the rest of my card show purchases another time.