|Photo courtesy Laura K. Stevens.|
Seemed like outside of San Diego Mr. Gwynn was well respected, but not that well known. That's OK, he was our hometown hero, after all even though he was born (like myself) in Los Angeles he went to SDSU and was a Lincoln High guy as well. After he retired he went back to work for SDSU coaching. He was a stand-up guy and there are tons and tons of tributes flowing over the last couple of days as there should be.
I did attend the 1992 All-Star Fan Fest in San Diego at the convention center, one of the first times I'd ever been there, having eschewed the first two SDCCs at the new hall along Seaport Village (total honesty - I've never been to Petco either). One of the promos was this wonderful full page sheet showing the complete 12 card set for that years' inserts. The first 10 cards were found in packs about 1:13 or so. The last two were mail-aways, a common component of sports collecting that I loved to go after back in the day.
This sheet has more sentimental value to me now than monetary. It represents the early 90's so fantastically. Upper Deck had been doing these "limited edition" sheets for awhile and Fleer wanted to get in on the action. If you want one I notice there's one listed on eBay for a $5 bid/$10 BIN. It's not my listing, so I'm not linking, but you can find it easily enough. Search "1992 Ultra Tony Gwynn."
The sets of 12 themselves seem to be readily available at under a buck a card too. Even for the mail aways. It was the era of junk wax. It might be more fun to find 1992 unopened Wax and search for the certified autos. Wait, what's that you say? Yup, Tony signed 200 of EACH CARD and they were inserted. So theoretically there's a 10 card signed set out there somewhere. Yikes. Back in the day these cards were valued (by Fleer) at $50 each. They're also readily available on the Bay of E for under $100 each. Not too bad for a HOFer.
One last thing and here's where I'm going to get a bit preachy. Tony died of Salivary Gland Cancer, which he contracted from years of chewing tobacco use. I've had a few friends in the past chew tobacco, and I've never understood the habit. Really. It's disgusting to the Nth degree. And it's dangerous. It's high time that MLB took a hard-core stand, rather than the still tacit appeasement that they currently have. Then again that would have the MLB take a stand on SOMETHING and we all know that under Bud Selig they don't stand for anything.