SAN DIEGO (AP) Tony Gwynn isn”t quite finished with his old job and he”s already got a new one.
The San Diego Padres” batting star was hired yesterday by his alma mater, San Diego State, to replace baseball coach Jim Dietz following the 2002 season.
Gwynn was given a three-year contract beginning June 1. He will serve as an unpaid volunteer coach next season and will earn a base salary of $100,000 per season beginning in 2003.
“This is the dream gig for me. What I think I do best is teach,” Gwynn said at a campus news conference. “I can”t believe I”m standing here. This is really awesome.”
Athletic director Rick Bay said Gwynn is one of San Diego State”s most famous alumni and “one of the city”s true icons.”
“The passion he carries for this university, and for the baseball program in particular, is obvious to all who know him,” Bay said.
Gwynn, who”s won eight NL batting titles in his 20-year big league career, has 16 games left before retiring from the Padres.
His final game will be at home on Oct. 7 against Colorado.
He”s been lobbying hard for the San Diego State job since the school announced in late May that Dietz will retire after next season, his 31st.
The Aztecs play in Tony Gwynn Stadium, which was financed by Padres owner John Moores. Gwynn”s son, Anthony, is a sophomore outfielder for the Aztecs.
And now they”ve got arguably the best pure hitter of his generation to take over a program that could use a boost.
“This is the job I wanted. I want to make sure the kids graduate, I want to teach them everything I know about baseball and I want to teach them everything I know about life. That”s my challenge. I wish I could start today,” Gwynn said.
The 41-year-old Gwynn played for Dietz and also was a star point guard on San Diego State”s basketball team from 1977-81. He still owns the Aztecs” game, season and career records for assists.
He was drafted by both the Padres and the NBA”s Clippers who then played in San Diego on the same day in 1981. He made his big league debut with the Padres on July 19, 1982, when he got the first two of his 3,138 career hits.
Gwynn has a .338 lifetime average, but he”s been limited this season by hamstring and knee injuries. He has torn cartilage in his right knee, which he says will require surgery after the season.