Las Vegas 51s' Cory Vaughn, RedHawks' Erik Castro remember their college coach Tony Gwynn

Players and coaches from both the Oklahoma City RedHawks and the 51s remembered the iconic hitter who lost his battle with cancer on Monday. They also remembered Gwynn off the field as a better person than ballplayer.
by Jacob Unruh Modified: June 16, 2014 at 8:26 pm •  Published: June 16, 2014
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Cory Vaughn remembers trying to play a trick on Tony Gwynn his junior year at San Diego State.

Gwynn stepped into the batting cage and told players to call out a position midpitch. Each time, Gwynn hit the ball there.

Then Vaughn thought he’d be tricky and call out third base.

I swear on my life he hits the ball right down the third-base line,” said Vaughn, now an outfielder for the Las Vegas 51s and the son of Gwynn’s former teammate and friend Greg Vaughn.

“I was like, ‘Oh, this dude’s the truth.’”

Players and coaches from both the Oklahoma City RedHawks and the 51s remembered the iconic hitter who lost his battle with cancer on Monday.

They also remembered Gwynn off the field as a better person than ballplayer.

“He really taught us how to play the game the right way, how to go about our business, how to work at our craft as far as hitting and playing defense and what-not,” said RedHawks infielder Erik Castro, who also played for Gwynn at SDSU. “Just as a human being, he was a class act. On and off the field, he was always doing stuff for players.”

Castro recalls teammates asking for letters of recommendation from Gwynn for jobs. After all, a recommendation from a Hall of Famer with 3,141 hits and a career .338 batting average can only increase the odds of being hired.

Gwynn also helped Castro out his first year in the pros by taking him into the SDSU equipment room and giving him anything he needed.

“Just little things that he didn’t have to do that was just part of his character that stuck out to me,” Castro said. “How he affected everyone in his life is what stuck with me the most.”

Vaughn had not spoken to Gwynn in a while, but he did say he talked to his father Monday.

Greg Vaughn played with Gwynn in San Diego from 1996-98 before being traded to Cincinnati before the 1999 season. They remained close, even as opponents.


by Jacob Unruh
Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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