Thursday, May 03, 2012

Junior, Tony and Cammy

Junior, Tony and Cammy. Now, we are down to the final survivor. I had spent some time with Tony and Cammy. I had never met Junior. But having lived in Paradise AKA San Diego for 30 years now, you would have had a hard time elevating anyone above this trio ad the most popular athletes San Diego has ever seen on the home team. So why was the oldest of the three, Tony Gwynn, now 52 (on May 9) the last man standing? Perhaps my meeting in May, 1998 reveals a few answers. I had agreed to interview Gwynn on a freelance assignment. He was coming down to the last few seasons of his career and this year would be one of his finest as he would end up leading the Padres to the World Series and a date against the champion Yankees. It was a happy clubhouse after a win in game one of an unusual May doubleheader between Bobby Valentine’s New York Mets and Bruce Bochy’s Padres. Gwynn was holding court in front of his locker. He didn’t look particularly pleased in what would be the longest day of the year, but he was holding up well, acting like a professional. Above all, Tony Gwynn is the consummate professional. Tony was tired. He had already played one game and was about to do the unthinkable, take his 38 year old legs out to play game 2. And he was still doing this with an early season .371 average. Yeah, Tony was really showing his age. My chance to ask a question and I gave it my best shot. Tony, you know I teach and write about visualization, but you seem to be one step ahead of me with your video work. Can you walk me what you do on a particular day? Suddenly, Tony looked like someone had released a stink bomb in the tight space. Tony, even then, didn’t like to divulge to others how he got the edge on all MLB hitters. Maybe, as I have wondered more recently, considering his less than stellar college coaching career, it isn’t so much what he would like or not like to do, it is that he just can’t. Tony stuck his right hand out to shake my hand and end the interview. I managed to blurt out. Well, at least I got a chance to shake the hand of a future Hall of Famer. Tony grimaced once more. I don’t know about that, but thanks for coming down. And then he was gone. Gwynn’s modest remark blew me away. I don’t know about that? Is he kidding me with that bunk or what? I looked up to see Cammy staring at me from across the clubhouse. If you had ever spoken to Ken Caminiti, even on a single occasion, you would remember it. He had piercing eyes, often compared to Junior in fact, for the focus, heat and intensity. Women would swoon after meetimg him and then collapse into a friend’s arms, crying “those eyes!” I was ready for Cammy. What about you, Ken? Do you believe the power of visualization can give you an edge like it gives Tony? Ken looked shocked at the question. I have enough to deal with in the demons in my own head. Demons? Six years later, Cammy would be dead at 41. Bringing us to yesterday, where Junior stopped his demons in their tracks at the age of 43. I teach how the mental film can be great and how you are the real Director. I realize it can go the other way. For Junior and Cammy, the film went bad too soon. They were not happy with the final cut. RIP. You gave us great San Diego moments. And we will hold those in our minds while we keep you in our hearts.

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