SAN DIEGO - Baseball's annual batting championships have been named in honor of Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew, Major League Baseball announced during pregame festivities for the 87th All-Star Game, played at Petco Park in San Diego. The players who earn the highest batting averages in each League will now be known as the "Tony Gwynn National League Batting Champion" and the "Rod Carew American League Batting Champion," paying homage to two of the most accomplished hitters of the modern era. Carew participated in tonight's ceremonies in San Diego, while the late Gwynn was represented by his family.
Gwynn was a .338 career hitter who batted above .300 in 19 of his 20 Major League seasons, all with the San Diego Padres. The record-tying eight-time NL batting champion collected 3,141 hits. Gwynn, a 15-time NL All-Star, batted a career-best .394 in the 1994 season and hit at least .353 in each of the five seasons between 1993 and 1997. The former San Diego State University player and coach drew 790 career walks and struck out only 434 times, including never more than 40 in any single season. Gwynn remains tied with fellow Hall of Famer Honus Wagner of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the most batting titles in NL history. He led the Padres to their two World Series in franchise history (1984, 1998). His plaque at the National Baseball Hall of Fame calls Gwynn "an artisan with a bat."
Carew was a seven-time American League batting champion who was a lifetime .328 hitter with the Minnesota Twins (1967-78) and the California Angels (1979-85). With this trademark crouched stance, the legend of Panama topped the .300 mark in 15 consecutive seasons (1969-83), and he was an 18-time AL All-Star (each year from 1967-1984). Between 1972-1978, he won six batting crowns in seven years; in the only year he did not win (1976, when he was runner-up to George Brett), he missed a share by .002. Carew batted a career-best .388 with 239 hits in his AL Most Valuable Player-winning season of 1978 (38 2B, 16 3B, 14 HR, 100 RBI, 128 runs, .449 OBP, .570 SLG). His Hall of Fame plaque refers to Carew as a "batting wizard who lined, chopped and bunted his way to 3,053 hits."
Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said: "Rod is one of the most highly decorated players in American League history, who made 18 straight All-Star appearances in his Hall of Fame career. Tony is considered one of the greatest hitters in the history of the National League and there is no better place to honor him than in San Diego. Major League Baseball is pleased to recognize their extraordinary careers by naming our batting crowns in their honor."