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Tony Gwynn Jr. honors his late dad with walk-off hit on Father's Day

Tony Gwynn Jr. gets a big hit on Father's Day, nearly a year to the day of his Hall of Fame father's death

Tony Gwynn Jr. admits this has been a tough week, with June 16 marking a year since his father died of salivary gland cancer.

But just days later, on Father's Day, Gwynn was able to pay tribute to his legendary dad in the most appropriate fashion -- by hitting an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs a 1-0 victory over the Buffalo Bisons.

"It was a cool moment," Gwynn said. "Any time you can be part of a walk-off, it's pretty awesome. But today being Father's Day and this being the week of the first anniversary of his passing, it meant that much more. I'm just blessed to have the opportunity to honor my father like that."

Gwynn has played for several major league teams, including the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, the team for whom his father played for all 20 years of his Hall of Fame career. He spent all of 2013 with the Dodgers' triple-A squad in Albuquerque and earned a spot with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2014.

But Gwynn has said he had trouble focusing on baseball after a conversation with his father last May, during which the elder Gwynn revealed he had just months left to live. Gwynn spent eight days on the bereavement list after his father's death and was released by the Phillies at the end of July after batting just .163 with three RBI.

He signed a minor league contract with the Phillies days later, however, and got called up in September. Gwynn signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals during the off-season and has largely struggled while playing for the Chiefs, going 2-for-27 in the previous seven games before Sunday.

"It's been a tough week. I'd be lying if I said anything different," he said. "[My father] was a big part of my life. But I still have a job to do and that's something I take very seriously. We're all human beings. We're emotional people. When we're dealing with a passing -- the memories of my father in my case -- it's going to be difficult. But I just have to lock in on what I'm doing, work my way through it that way."

His big hit on Sunday came at the just the right time.

"For me, it's a gift to my dad or from my dad -- both, really," he said. "And in that way, it's a good Father's Day."

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