PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Muhammad Ali provided the San Diego Padres will the thrill of a lifetime when he made a clubhouse visit on Monday.
Dozens of players and coaches waited in a long line to shake hands and take pictures with the boxing great, who made a 45-minute appearance for the Athletes for Hope foundation.
"This is the top unless I ever meet Michael Jordan," outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. said. "I'm typically not star-struck, but I was today. I'm taking that picture home and I'm going to show it to my wife and have that for my kids when they get older."
Outfielder Aaron Cunningham and reliever Mike Adams heard on Sunday that Ali might be visiting, so they each purchased a pair of boxing gloves just in case. Both walked away with autographs and a cherished memory.
"This was a different kind of shook up," Cunningham said of his nerves. "You know how people just joke around and say, 'The man, the myth, the legend?' He really is the man, the myth, the legend. It was really cool and it was something I'll never forget."
Ali's appearance coincided with the 39th anniversary of his loss to Joe Frazier in a 15-round title fight. Manager Bud Black said he watched many of Ali's fights and was in awe of the boxer being in the clubhouse.
"Any time you meet a legend, you feel the presence, the aura. It was cool," Black said.
Padres officials say Ali is only scheduled to meet with a few big league teams.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.