A memorable encounter with Gwynn

I had one brief interaction with Tony Gwynn during my career as a baseball writer and it was an interesting exchange.

A few years back, I stepped into the elevator at Fenway Park and he followed. He was in town working a broadcast and we were the only two in the elevator. At that time, the .406 Club still existed at Fenway, and while we stood in silence in the elevator, Gwynn glanced up at the directory.

“Wow, .406,” he said with a whisper, almost as if he was talking to himself.

It was a surreal moment for me. Here I stood with one of the game’s greatest hitters, the man who came close to reaching Ted Williams’ historic mark until a players’ strike ended the 1994 season when Gwynn was hitting. 394.

Seeing .406 on the elevator wall mesmerized Gwynn.

It was my opportunity to find out what he was thinking.

“You came close,” I said.

“No way,” he quickly responded. “Do you know how hard that is? No way.”

With that, the elevator door opened on the fifth floor, the media level, and as he walked off shaking his head, he said: “.406.”