|Stricker: Whatís one thing you do that makes you successful?
Gwynn: The one thing I think is just good old fashioned hard work. This is a game that you never master, so what you try to do is organize yourself so that you can do the things that you have to on a daily basis. When I came up in the big leagues I could hit the ball fine but everything else I didnít do that well. I wasnít a good fielder, wasnít a good thrower, wasnít a real good base runner. So what I learned to do was organize my time so I could spend time in all these areas. So thatís why I say it just boils down to plain old fashioned hard work.
Stricker: Did your brothers used to pound on you when you were a kid?
Gwynn: (Laughs) Well, I was the middle child and early on yeah, I got pounded on. I was the one that got blamed for everything; whenever a lamp got broke I was the guy that got blamed. But in our house, after I was about ten we all got along. We werenít competitive against each other, we just tried to help each other, but early on, yeah, I got pounded on. I got pounded on a lot!
Stricker: Were there better hitters than you in Little League?
Gwynn: Oh yeah, in little league? Just like it is now in the big leagues where a guy whoís doing what I do; Iím a singles hitter, a contact hitter. There isnít much fanfare in hitting the ball between the fielders. Thereís a whole lot more fanfare in hitting homeruns. There was a whole bunch of guys on my little league team who could hit the ball a long way. I was never one of those guys, so I realized I had a better chance at being like Rod Carew or Pete Rose than being like Mike Schmidt or one of those guys that could hit the ball out of the ballpark. So on my little league team I was just one of the guys.
Stricker: When you turned pro did you have a hard time deciding between baseball and basketball?
Gwynn: No not really. Being 5í-10Ē I knew my chances were better in baseball than basketball. To this day I still love basketball and I wish my knees were good enough where I could still play.
Stricker: Did you have any jobs when you were a kid?
Gwynn: I had one job when I was thirteen years old. I was what we called back then a ďpark coordinatorĒ. What I would do is I would teach arts and crafts to the kids who came to the park and teach them how to play softball. We had a softball team and we played in our park league. We got to the championship game and we lost. But that is the only job I have ever had other than playing baseball.
Stricker: What is your favorite book?
Gwynn: Probably ďRootsĒ. That is the first real book other than going to school that I wanted to read on my own. Nobody forced me to read it. I liked that one a whole lot.
Stricker: What is your favorite website?
Gwynn: Depends on what time of year, like this time of year is football season so we have a fantasy league that my team mates and I are playing on so Iíll go to huddle.com, sportspages.com and get my info for my football guys. During the off season I like to go to usatoday.com, cnn.com. Aside from sports I go to sony.com a lot to see what new video stuff is out so I can better do my job.
Stricker: What is the best way to be a better hitter?
Gwynn: The best way to be a better hitter is to know yourself. No matter what level youíre talking about a lot of guys in the game donít know themselves as hitters, so when things go wrong they donít know how to fix it. Know what you do well, know what things you need to work on, and then your going to have to work on both of them.
Stricker: Where do you like to go on vacation?
Gwynn: Iím a different type of guy and I realized it a long time ago. When youíre in this business, I like to go somewhere where I can be nobody, an average guy again. Because when youíre in this business like here in San Diego when I go to the grocery store or I go to the dry cleaners or I go to the gas station people know me. They either know me by the way I look or they know the sound of my voice and they always just want to talk baseball. They donít want to talk about anything else. When I go on vacation I have a house in Indianapolis. When I go there Iím just like anyone else. I can go to the grocery store. I can put gas in my car. I can go to Walmart and people wonít know me. Unfortunately in this business its kind of hard to have that. When we first start playing we want to be famous and have everybody to know us and when you play twenty years and you get to the end you donít want everybody to know you. You want to be able to do the things that you want to do and just be able to do it without having people asking you to sign cards or bats or balls or whatever. So Indianapolis is usually where I go. Or hide out in my momís house in Long Beach. For the most part Iím a home body. Thereís nothing better for me than to get in my reclining chair, put my feet up, get the remote control, start flipping channels and just watching tv all day waiting for my kids to come home from school. Thatís the best.
Stricker: Whoís the toughest pitcher to face?
Gwynn: In my career Nolan Ryan was the toughest to face because he had three pitches, he threw them all way above average, a good fastball you know 98-99 miles an hour, great curve ball and change up. So all time Iíd say Nolan Ryan but Randy Johnsonís real close. Randy Johnson is not a lot of fun to face and I havenít had a lot of success against him, but I didnít duck him either. I went out there and took my licks, but heís very difficult to hit.
Stricker: Are there sometimes when you just know you are going to get a hit?
Gwynn: Yeah. Yeah there are. I wish it happened more often now (laughs). In my heyday when I was playing everyday there were certain times and certain situations when the pitcherís standing on the mound and heís looking in for the sign and I know whatís coming and I know where its going to be and I know Iím going to hit it. It doesnít happen very often but I think good hitters when you know your craft and you know what youíre trying to do and what the opposition is going to do you know youíre going to get a hit; youíre going to hit a ball hard, not necessarily get a base hit, but you know whatís coming and you know youíre going to hit it hard.
Stricker: Did you ever come close to leaving San Diego?
Gwynn: The closest I came was last winter when I was a free agent. I think if I wasnít going to retire I might have thought about it more than I did but I knew this year would be my last year and I wanted to finish it here.