CHICAGO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy and third-base coach Tim Flannery witnessed Tony Gwynn's excellence and effervescence firsthand.
More than almost anybody else, they understood what distinguished Gwynn, whose death from cancer was announced Monday. They were struck not just by the grace of the man's swing, which earned him eight National League batting titles, but also by the grace of his personality.
Bochy, who managed Gwynn in San Diego from 1995-2001, praised the Hall of Famer's accessibility to the fans.
"He's getting recognized as one of the great guys ever in the game," Bochy said Tuesday. "Ultimately that's what you want to be known for."
Bochy lives approximately a half-mile from Gwynn and his family in suburban San Diego.
"I regret now not having spent more time with him," Bochy said. "It's a great loss for baseball and San Diego."
Flannery, a teammate of Gwynn's from 1982-89, cherished his "childlike" enthusiasm and perspective. Flannery also illustrated Gwynn's renowned work ethic by pointing out that the .338 lifetime hitter was not only the first player to use video equipment for analyzing opponents, but also stood alone in knowing what to seek.
"A lot of guys now will stare at that thing and have no idea what they're looking at," Flannery said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.