No shortage of wonderful platitudes have come in after the death of Tony Gwynn earlier this week, but it's hard to resonate more than a first-person account from a former Padres bat boy who had idolized Gwynn his whole life.
Here's a sampling of what he wrote on Deadspin:
You know where this story ends for most kids. They idolize a figure they know from afar, they get an improbable chance to meet the guy, and he turns out to be a bum. He cheats on his wife. He kicks over trash cans. He shouts at clubhouse attendants. My first day at the stadium, I stood getting dressed in my sparkling new uniform in the bat-boy locker area, which was tucked around a corner from the main locker room, and located about 10 feet from the bathroom. Players filed by, most of them ignoring us. Suddenly, he appeared.
"Hey," he said to me, holding out his hand. "I'm Tony. How are you?" Flustered, I stammered, "Uh, nothing much." He laughed.