I've said it before but if you grew up in San Diego and Tony wasn't your favorite Padre, then you were just trying to be different.
As someone who has always loved Tony, my heart sank when I read that he had been diagnosed with cancer. It's been hard watching as his health has declined over the past decade. Though it's very possible that this cancer diagnosis is not related to chewing tobacco, Gwynn thinks it might be.
It's disappointing that someone that has had two previous surgeries to remove tumors has continued to chew tobacco, but we all have our vices and tobacco is said to be extremely difficult to quit. It just shows that someone can be disciplined in one area of their life, in this case hitting and baseball, can be undisciplined when it comes to another, like their health.
When I was given the opportunity to interview Tony a few years ago in his office at San Diego State, I was surprised by the number of cups filled with tobacco spit. For some reason I had just assumed that dipping was something that was only done during games. With his playing career ending years before it clearly wasn't, unless those cups were souvenirs from his playing career, which would be gross. Gwynn isn't alone, many Padres greats including Trevor Hoffman and Jake Peavy have used smokeless tobacco regularly.
I hope that this diagnosis will be a wake up call for Tony and for all baseball players including his son who also chews. It'd be nice to see the Padres roster make an effort to quit using tobacco this off-season to stand in solidarity with Gwynn. Not to mention it'd be a great way for the Padres organization to promote cancer awareness and prevention, more so than wearing pink wristbands on Mother's day or standing up during a game.
I wish Tony a speedy recovery and a long life. Cancer is not El Cajon Ford, it can be beaten!
- Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn reveals he has cancer - SignOnSanDiego.com
"They say this is a slow moving but aggressive form of cancer," Gwynn said Friday from his Poway home. "I’m going to be aggressive and not slow moving in treating this."
- PADRES: Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has cancer
"I haven't discussed that with the doctors yet, but I'm thinking it's related to dipping," said Gwynn, who resumed the practice of using chewing tobacco after the first two surgeries.
- Hall of Famer Gwynn to begin cancer treatment | padres.com: News
"I had surgery for a parotid tumor in 1997 and again three years ago, and both those times there was no cancer," Gwynn told the Union-Tribune. "But this time they found a malignancy. They took out three lymph nodes and did all the tests and the results showed cancer in the parotid. The doctors have told me they feel they caught the cancer early and there was not much of it there."
- PADRES: Gwynn Jr. trying to stay positive
"At this point, it was definitely a lot more of a weight off him," Gwynn Jr. said. "The people who needed to know, knew. I know he was relieved, and I guess his relief is my relief.