Originally created 08/07/99

Tony Gwynn gets 3,000th hit



MONTREAL -- Tony Gwynn got his 3,000th career hit Friday night, singling in his first at-bat against the Montreal Expos to become the 22nd major leaguer to reach that milestone.

Gwynn reached down and golfed a soft line drive past second base on a 1-2 pitch from Dan Smith, a rookie right-hander making his 11th career start. His Padres teammates raced from the dugout to congratulate him, and first base umpire Kerwin Danley -- Gwynn's college teammate at San Diego State -- gave him a hug.

It was the first time in 20 years that a NL player reached 3,000 hits.

Fireworks, usually reserved for Expos' home runs, were set off as soon as the hit dropped in, and Gwynn's mother, Vendella, celebrating her 64th birthday, came onto to the field and embraced her son.

The hit came six years to the day since Gwynn got his 2,000th career hit against Colorado's Bruce Ruffin.

A crowd of less than 10,000 at Olympic Stadium, which was on its feet and clapping throughout the at-bat, gave Gwynn a lengthy ovation.

The ball and the first base bag were taken out of play, with one or both likely to end up in the Hall of Fame.

Gwynn didn't wait long to add on. In his second at-bat, he singled up the middle to move past Roberto Clemente into 21st place on the career list. After grounding out in the fourth inning, Gwynn singled to right in the sixth. Al Kaline is next with 3,007.

Gwynn's milestone hit came one night after he played in St. Louis and witnessed Mark McGwire's 500th career home run. Gwynn went 1-for-4 against the Cardinals, leaving him one hit shy of 3,000.

In a pregame interview, Gwynn said he was not nervous for his first at-bat as he was Thursday night against the Cardinals.

"I just want to get it done," Gwynn said after Thursday night's game. "I just want to get a hit. It's down to one little hit. One hit. Chinker, blooper, line drive, just one hit."

Gwynn became the first NL player since the Cardinals' Lou Brock in 1979 to reach 3,000 hits. Brock was at Thursday night's game in St. Louis, as was Stan Musial, hoping to see Gwynn reach 3,000.

Several AL players -- Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, George Brett, Robin Yount, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski and Rod Carew -- reached 3,000 hits in the years since Brock did it.

Gwynn got what he wanted quickly against the Expos, becoming the first major leaguer to get hit No. 3,000 outside the United States. Pete Rose got his 4,000th hit in Montreal as a member of the Expos.

Gwynn, 39, has played for the Padres throughout his 18-year career, and has hit better than .300 for 16 straight seasons. He is tied for Honus Wagner with eight NL batting titles, and hit No. 3,000 upped this season's average to .319.

Gwynn got his first two hits in his major league debut on July 19, 1982, playing against Rose, and wanted to get No. 3,000 quickly so he could beat Wade Boggs to the mark.

Boggs had 2,997 hits going into Friday night's home game for Tampa Bay against Cleveland, and flied out and grounded out in his first two at-bats.

This is one of the greatest milestone weeks in baseball history, a 500th homer and the possibility of two 3,000th hits.

The last time those two plateaus were reached so close together was in 1970 when Ernie Banks hit his 500th homer and Hank Aaron had his 3,000th hit within five days of each other.