When I First Met Tony Gwynn

During this past week of memorials for Tony, I had time to reflect on the first time I met the man. I was an art director working at Franklin Stoorza on the Padres account in 1987, and of course, we wanted to feature our star. I learned days earlier that the only way Padres management was going to allow us to photograph players was on the field, during batting practice, just prior to game time. Despite my objections, that’s how we did it.

The photographer, his assistant and I arrived early and set up a white backdrop behind home plate. Once lit, I was told we’d have to photograph everyone on the team in groups so as not to rile the players who wouldn’t be featured in the marketing. So we did, group after group, until we finally had Gwynn, Benito Santiago, John Kruk and Garry Templeton. I’m pretty sure the rest of the team knew what was going on.

From before we started until after all photos were taken, Tony was hanging around us and the dugout, making jokes and being quite at ease (more so than I thought for pre-game warm-up). Although I didn’t realize at the time that we were the same age, I found Tony easy to approach and talk to about a variety of subjects. While others scowled and looked quite displeased about our pre-game intrusion, Tony kept things light and even softened a few guys up.

A couple weeks later I had Tony in a studio for a photo shoot that would feature him, and some of his awards, on a season schedule poster. Again, the mood was light and professional. I’ve since had the pleasure of working with many celebrities and athletes, but few as genuinely human as Tony Gwynn.

Blaise Nauyokas

For fun, here are some of the campaign materials from that year. Note the very late 80s use of Futura Bold Condensed 🙂