SAN DIEGO -- Several members of the D-backs organization, including chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, general manager Kevin Towers, manager Kirk Gibson and closer Addison Reed, attended a memorial service for Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn on Thursday night at Petco Park.
"It's nice to see people in attendance from Major League Baseball, the Hall of Famers, the incredible fan base that they have here to have 20,000-plus out here on a Thursday night to give back their thanks for what he did for them for those 20 years that he donned a Padre uniform," said Towers, whose time as GM in San Diego overlapped with Gwynn's playing days. "Everything that was said was accurate. I've always said he was probably a greater guy than he was a ballplayer, and that's saying a lot because I'd probably put him in the top five hitters of all time."
The D-backs had an off-day Thursday and traveled to San Diego following their Wednesday night game against Cleveland.
That left them with the opportunity to attend the memorial and it was one that Reed, who pitched for Gwynn at San Diego State University, made sure he took advantage of.
"It was amazing," Reed said. "It was a great turnout. There was a big group of us from San Diego State and the speeches were unbelievable. Everyone had the same message about how good of a guy he was, how he was an even better person off the field than on the field and just all the time and effort he gave to the community."
Gwynn, who passed away due to complications from his battle with salivary gland cancer that he blamed in part on the use of smokeless tobacco, had a big impact on Reed. In Gwynn's honor, Reed quit using smokeless tobacco on the day Gwynn passed away.
"Everyone that spoke really hit him right on the head," Reed said of the memorial service. "It was never about him, he was always focused on others and helping in any way he could."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less