Local mechanics save San Diego’s Tony Gwynn Day | PostIndependent.com

Local mechanics save San Diego’s Tony Gwynn Day

Bringing it homeJoelle MilholmGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo courtesy of Eric Peterson

Last weekend, a 9 1/2-foot bronze statue of Tony Gwynn was unveiled at PETCO Park in San Diego as a tribute to one of the greatest hitters Major League Baseball has ever seen.It was part of a weekend celebration for the 15-time All-Star – a .338 lifetime hitter who smacked 3,141 hits, won eight National League batting titles and will be inducted to the Hall of Fame on Sunday. It was a fitting salute to a dedicated, hard working, kind, respectable, play-his-whole-career-with-one-team, care-about-the-community, steroid-free athletes that are so rare these days. However, a key member of the party – the statue – almost didn’t make it to the July 21 party.But thanks to the mechanics at Vista Auto Group’s Chevrolet Service Center in West Glenwood, it did.The monument, whose finishing touches were completed in Aspen, was on a truck that broke down in Glenwood. It was Thursday, July 19, and the truck’s transmission was malfunctioning making it undriveable – with only two days to get to San Diego. That was just the beginning of the chaos that ensued, including a limousine and a mudslide, in the battle to get Gwynn’s statue to PETCO on time.The mechanics took a look and realized they needed to order a part from Denver, but it couldn’t get there until July 20 – not leaving enough time to drive to California.”We couldn’t get the part delivered from General Motors until the next day,” said Tim Endner II, the service director for Vista for all three of it’s service centers in Glenwood. “The driver had a deadline. It was a huge deal.”Enter the limousine.The truck driver hired a limo to pick up the needed part and drive it to Glenwood Springs. Sounds like a good idea right? A little fancy, but good nonetheless.A mudslide put a delay in that plan.A heavy downpour forced the mass of mud onto I-70 and closed the highway for several hours.Meanwhile back at Vista, the mechanics and Gwynn’s statue were just hanging out. They had moved the statue out of the truck and placed it in the corner of the garage. “I didn’t want to put it outside,” said Tim Endner II, the service advisor at Vista Chevrolet and son of Tim Endner I. “I am a big sports fan and I wanted to help.”It was quite a sight, especially sitting upon its 5-foot granite base graced with the inscription – “Mr. Padre” and “If you work hard, good things will happen.” It was a quote the 19-year Padre received from his father – Charles Gwynn Sr. Employees were taking pictures on their cell phones, so were customers.”The customers were saying, ‘You don’t see that everyday,'” Endner II said.Finally, I-70 reopened and the limo arrived in Glenwood around 6 p.m.A few dead trucks delayed the process, as Vista employees tried to maneuver things in and out of the garage to make room for the truck, the limo and the statue.”I just seemed like it was never going to happen,” said Dave Pollard, the technician who worked on the truck.Endner II and Pollard worked for two hours repairing the transmission and getting the truck on its way.”Transmission fluid was dripping everywhere and I don’t like getting dirty. I just wanted to see the statue make it,” Endner II said.The truck and the statue made it safety to San Diego, in just enough time to put Gwynn’s replica in the ground and host an unveiling.Hats off to the guys at Vista, they deserve an RBI in the process for helping get the truck and the statue home safely.Contact Joelle Milholm at 384-9124 or jmilholm@postindepentend.com.

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