Public memorial service for Tony Gwynn Thursday night - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Public memorial service for Tony Gwynn Thursday night

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A memorial service will be held at Petco Park Thursday night to give the public the opportunity to pay respects to Hall of Fame Padres slugger Tony Gwynn.

Gwynn was the head baseball coach at San Diego State University at the time of his June 16 death at the age of 54 following a long battle with cancer. The eight-time National League batting champion and right-fielder blamed his salivary gland cancer on his career-long habit of chewing tobacco.

Since his death, several major league players have sworn off smokeless tobacco products, including former Aztecs Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals and Addison Reed of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Padres said tonight's event will celebrate Gwynn's life, accomplishments and contributions to the team, San Diego and the sport of baseball. It will feature special guests from throughout his lifetime.

Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. Fans can enter through the Home Plate or Park Boulevard gates on Park Boulevard, as well as the Gaslamp Gate on Seventh Avenue or the East Village Gate on 10th Avenue.

Free parking will be provided at the Parcel C and Tailgate lots on Imperial Avenue, on the southeast side of Petco Park, the Padres Parkade garage at 10th Avenue at J Street, and the structure at Sixth Avenue and K Street.

The Metropolitan Transit System will add Green Line trains from Qualcomm Stadium beginning at 5:45 p.m. Post-event trains will be offered as needed.

Bus routes 11, 901 and 929 stop at Petco Park and bus routes 3, 4, and 5 stop nearby. All buses will run on a regular schedule, according to the MTS.

Additionally, the Rapid 235 line, which began service on June 8, can take fans from the Escondido Transit Center and other transit stations along the I-15 corridor to downtown San Diego. It operates from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

An added northbound Coaster train will depart the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego at 10 p.m. to accommodate riders attending the service, according to the North County Transit District.

Former teammates and opponents, Major League Baseball officials and San Diego civic leaders have praised Gwynn's talent and character, while hundreds of fans have left flowers, balloons, pictures, notes and memorabilia at the base of a statue of the prolific hitter in Petco Park.

Gwynn, who only ever played for the Padres once in the majors, belted 3,141 hits, had a .338 career batting average and was a 15-time All Star. His playing career ended in 2001.

The Padres honored Gwynn last week before the team's first home game following his death. The Seattle Mariners, who were hosting the Padres when he died, and the San Francisco Giants, who were playing the Friars this week at

AT&T Park, also held pre-game ceremonies.

A private memorial service was held at San Diego State University last Saturday.

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