LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Kentucky baseball team will participate in the inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic in 2016, returning UK coach Gary Henderson to his alma mater to honor his former teammate at San Diego State, it was announced.
“I am excited about the Tony Gwynn Classic in 2016,” Henderson said. “We are honored to participate in the inaugural event and join in the celebration of a great man. Besides the opportunity to honor Tony and his ever-lasting impact on baseball and the community of San Diego, the event will showcase of some of the top college baseball programs and players in the nation. It will be a good test for our team, early in non-conference play, to help us prepare for the Southeastern Conference.”
Henderson will return to Wildcats to his alma mater, where he pitched from 1982-84, for the second time in his eight-year tenure as UK’s head coach. UK played single games at San Diego State and San Diego in 2009.
The tournament will feature 12 teams in a true championship style format, with Baseball America assisting in the formation of the bracket.
Below is a 2014 video of a public memorial service for Tony
Gwynn held by the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
The tournament, honoring the Hall of Fame career and legacy of the late San Diego State coach and legend of the Padres, will be co-hosted by SDSU and San Diego in 2015. Arizona, Bryant, Nebraska, Tulane and UC Santa Barbara will join SDSU, USD and Kentucky in the field.
San Diego is guided by Rich Hill, a former teammate of Henderson’s and Gwynn’s at SDSU. Hill and Henderson reunited during the summer as members of Ed Blankmeyer’s coaching staff on the 2015 USA Collegiate National Team, which won series meetings over Cuba and Chinese Taipei. Hill served as the third-base and hitting coach, with Henderson functioning as the pitching coach.
The Tony Gwynn Classic was founded to honor one of Gwynn’s wishes, to host a first-class, season-opening college baseball tournament to celebrate San Diego and the amateur game. San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer has declared the week of Feb. 19-28, 2016 to be Tony Gwynn Week in the City of San Diego.