Sixteen years ago today, Dex and I were working hard at our Summer jobs at the San Diego Zoo. We were trying to save up enough money to see Forrest Gump once more before we went to college.
On August 11, 1994 Tony the Gwynn was working hard too. Armed with his prized ash bat "Seven Grains of Pain" (there are conflicting reports that call it "Nine Grains of Pain"), he would slash singles all over the Astrodome in his last game of the 1994 season before the strike.
Gwynn was hitting second in the line up behind Bip Roberts.
- In his first at bat he hit a line drive single to center field and scored on a Derek Bell home run.
- In his second at bat in the second inning he grounded out to second base.
- In his third at bat he hit a line drive single to left field and was driven in again by Eddie Williams a couple at bats later.
- In the sixth inning Gwynn pulls the ball and grounds out again to first base.
- In the top of the 8th Gwynn lines a single to Right Field advancing two runners, his final hit of the season.
Trevor Hoffman would record his 20th save and the Padres would beat the Astros by a score of 8-6.
Gwynn finished the day with 3 singles in 5 at bats raising his average from .391 to .394. It is still the highest average since Ted Williams hit .407 in 1953. Gwynn was one 4-4 day away from reaching .400.
To this day, I really believe I’d have hit .400,"
Throughout his career Gwynn seemed to regret not being able to make a run at .400.
I'd be lying if I didn't say I want to make a crack at .400. But it's not going to be easy. It's going to be a lot more difficult than I think people think, but I just go out and play. I don't worry about the numbers. I just go out there and just play because that's where I'm having the most fun.
"Deprived? I don’t feel that way,’’ Gwynn said. "We (players) all were in the same boat. But in my mind, I thought I could. I sure wanted the chance. I was squaring the ball up nicely, hitting lefties, righties. I would have given it a run. I’m not sure how I would have handled it in September. But I think I had the type of personality to handle it. We’ll never know, but I have no regrets.’’
The strike eventually ended March 29th, 1995 and ballplayers returned to Spring Training, where Gwynn found himself struggling and decided to reunite with his prized bat, which promptly broke during a batting practice session with Rob Picciolo. Gwynn would hit .368 in the 1995 season.