Hall of Fame right fielder Tony Gwynn lost a long battle with salivary gland cancer Monday and passed away at the age of 54.

Nationals outfielder Scott Hairston was a member of the Padres -- with whom Gwynn played all 20 of his Major League seasons -- from 2007 until late July 2009 and again in 2010.

Hairston said Gwynn spent a lot of time at Petco Park as a broadcaster during those four seasons.

"It was a pleasure getting to know him," Hairston said. "It's a sad day for his family. What an important man he was to his family and the game. So many people looked up to him with his talents, but he had a very humble way about him. ... He was arguably the best hitter of all time and when you would talk to him, you would never know that he had that much success. And that was who he was. I don't think he ever changed that way about him. And getting to know him and his family was an honor to me personally."

Ryan Zimmerman never got the chance to meet Gwynn, but at Zimmerman's multiple sclerosis fundraising event, A Night at the Park, the third baseman said the Hall of Famer was a model citizen and an inspiration.

"Tony did a great job of being a good person as well," said Zimmerman, who has raised more than $1.5 million for MS via his ziMS foundation. "He taught a lot of us young guys how you can be a great baseball player and at the same time do things off the field and do things that aren't pertaining to sports and help people. It's sad to see anytime someone like that passes at such a young age."

Stephen Strasburg, who played for Gwynn at San Diego State, was not available to comment Monday.