Muhammad Ali, left, poses with San Diego Padres' Tony Gywnn Jr. at the San Diego Padres spring training baseball facility Monday March 8, 2010, in Peoria, Az.

*Coaches and players of the San Diego Padres were graced with a 45-minute visit from Muhammad Ali Monday as part of his Athletes for Hope foundation, which has the goal of empowering individual athletes to make a difference and to inspire others.

“This is the top unless I ever meet Michael Jordan,” outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. told the Associated Press. “I’m typically not star-struck, but I was today. I’m taking that picture home and I’m going to show it to my wife and have that for my kids when they get older.”

Outfielder Aaron Cunningham and reliever Mike Adams heard on Sunday that Ali might be visiting, so they each purchased a pair of boxing gloves just in case. Both walked away with autographs and a cherished memory.

“This was a different kind of shook up,” Cunningham said of his nerves. “You know how people just joke around and say, ‘The man, the myth, the legend?’ He really is the man, the myth, the legend. It was really cool and it was something I’ll never forget.”