FOX and Major League Baseball issued a joint statement on Wednesday in response to criticism that recently deceased Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn was not singled out for recognition during the broadcast of Tuesday night's All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The FOX broadcast did not mention Gwynn, the 15-time All-Star for the Padres who died on June 16 after a battle with salivary gland cancer.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, an extraordinary individual whose memory we have honored in numerous ways in recent weeks," the statement read. "The Baseball family has sadly lost a number of people this year -- including Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, Frank Cashen, and former All-Stars Jerry Coleman, Jim Fregosi and Don Zimmer -- and did not want to slight anyone by singling out one individual."
Gwynn played 20 seasons for San Diego from 1982-2001, finishing his career with a .338 batting average and 3,141 hits. Affectionately known as "Mr. Padre," he later coached baseball at his alma mater, San Diego State, and worked as a broadcaster.
The Padres and MLB have honored Gwynn in several ways since his passing. On the night of his death, the club made the statue of Gwynn outside of Petco Park available as a place of mourning for fans, who came in droves to leave flowers, cards, memorabilia and other items. When the Padres returned home two days later, they remembered him in several ways, including with a giant "19" -- his uniform number -- cut into the right-field grass. On June 26, the team held a public memorial at the stadium, with 23,229 fans and many from inside the baseball world coming to pay their respects.
The Padres are wearing a uniform patch featuring that No. 19 for the rest of the season, and many other teams around baseball also have paid their respects. With the Padres in Seattle at the time of Gwynn's death, the Mariners remembered him with a video tribute and by etching his number in the dirt between third base and shortstop. The Tigers did something similar before their game in Detroit, carving "TG 5.5" in that spot, indicating Gwynn's initials and the "5.5 hole" he made famous by filling it with hit after hit.
The baseball world also has honored Gwynn in other ways. Gwynn believed that his use of smokeless tobacco caused his cancer, and after his death, some players -- including D-backs and former San Diego State pitcher Addison Reed -- were spurred to quit. Meanwhile, at the All-Star Game, both Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark expressed a desire to end smokeless tobacco use in the game.