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Padres stunned by loss of Tony Gwynn

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 16, 2014 at 8:54 pm •  Published: June 16, 2014

SEATTLE (AP) — Bud Black first got to know Tony Gwynn when they were teammates playing college baseball at San Diego State.

No matter how early Black tried to get to the park for practice or workouts, he could never arrive before Gwynn.

"He was always there. Whenever I was there, he was there," Black said. "He loved the baseball field."

Now the Padres manager, Black shared memories of his former college teammate Monday before San Diego opened a two-game series in Seattle. Gwynn, a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest athletes in San Diego's history, died Monday of oral cancer, a disease he attributed to years of chewing tobacco. He was 54.

Gwynn's passing came as a surprise even though many with the organization knew his health was not good. For Black, his relationship with Gwynn went back to the late 1970s when they were teammates for the Aztecs.

Black recalled hearing Gwynn's recognizable laugh in hotel rooms during college road trips and driving down to the San Diego Sports Arena to watch Gwynn play basketball for the Aztecs.

But even as he developed into a Hall of Fame hitter with the Padres, Black said Gwynn retained the same qualities he had when they were college teammates.

"He didn't change. All of his success as a player, all the accolades he got moving forward in his career, he truly did remain the same guy," Black said. "Extremely, extremely humble. Didn't want to talk about himself. Always changed the subject if the topic was steering his direction. A great guy."

San Diego bench coach Dave Roberts played against and with Gwynn in the majors. But some of his strongest memories for Roberts — a San Diego native — was being in the minors and spending his offseason working out at San Diego State with Gwynn.

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