Gwynn praises Jeter's run to 3,000-hit mark

Gwynn praises Jeter's run to 3,000-hit mark

Gwynn praises Jeter's run to 3,000-hit mark
LOS ANGELES -- The filled Yankee Stadium, the dramatic at-bat, the energy of the moment leading up to a milestone, and achieving it on a home run -- all of those factors had the Padres' 3,000-hit club member wondering if he would have been able to handle his historic hit the way Derek Jeter did.

"I would've been crying rounding second base," Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn said.

Gwynn had nothing but praise for Jeter, welcoming the newest member into a club that now includes 28 players. He called the 3,000-hit fraternity one of the most special in baseball because in includes so many different types of hitters.

The first time Jeter and Gwynn met was in New York for Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. Gwynn said Jeter approached him with the line, "Man, you're gonna have to teach me how to hit."

"I just always had respect for him because he just does things right," Gwynn said. "And as far as the hitting is concerned, he moved the ball around. To get to that mark, that's what you have to be able to do. You can't be one-dimensional."

Gwynn, who watched the hit in the Dodgers' clubhouse, recalled his 3,000th hit, which came in Montreal before just more than 13,000 fans. After watching Jeter's hit, Gwynn said the biggest difference -- "a whole lot less people."

Approaching the milestone was one of the few times in his career he was pressing at the plate, Gwynn said. When he finally got the hit, a single, the first thing he felt was relief.

Gwynn recalled fondly the night before in St. Louis when Mark McGwire hit his 500th home run and Gwynn notched his 2,999th hit. The energy, he said, was electric, and the Cardinals fans were cheering Gwynn just as Gwynn was trying to deliver for them.

Gwynn, who added he wished he could have reached 3,000 in San Diego, said he wouldn't admit it to himself at the time, but he changed his approach a bit while going for the mark. The added pressure of being asked about it every day made him overthink the milestone and his at-bats leading up to it.

"It's difficult because you're the center of attention," Gwynn said. "You don't want to be, but you are."