For 48 games after he got his 2,950th hit on April 20, Tony Gwynn would don a crisp new San Diego Padres jersey and a stiff new cap, put on a fresh pair of batting gloves and spikes and use a new Genuine C267 Louisville Slugger. Gwynn was preparing for the collectibles crush that would inevitably attend his 3,000th hit, which came on Aug. 6 when he singled in the first inning in Montreal.
Top-of-the-line Gwynniana has doubled in value this year, according to C.J. Sports in San Diego. On eBay.com on Sunday the bat-and-ball combo from his 2,897th hit was bid up to $520, and a game-worn jersey from his rookie year was priced at $8,000. Despite the value of his memorabilia, Gwynn, an eight-time batting champ, is giving away much of the stuff associated with his hit chase. His high school, Long Beach Poly, and his college, San Diego State, will get some gear, as will friends and family. Last Friday in a ceremony at Qualcomm Park in San Diego, Gwynn donated his bat, helmet, uniform pants and spikes from hit number 3,000 to the Hall of Fame.
Each time he got a hit this year, Gwynn would hand the ball to a clubhouse attendant for safekeeping, then later sign it Gwynn gave numbers 2,900 to 2,950 to Padres owner John Moores. Gwynn's wife, Alicia, got 2,951 to 2,985 for her merchandising company, AG Sport. Numbers 2,996 and 2,998 went, respectively, to Tony's two brothers, Chris and Charles. Number 2,997 was a grand slam in St. Louis that a lucky fan kept Gwynn's mother, Vendella, got 2,999.
Number 3,000? That's going nowhere. Gwynn will keep that one and display it in his house in Poway, Calif., on a stand that was given to him for that purpose and stood empty for eight years-through nearly 1,500 hits—awaiting the big day.