Tobacco Kills a Sports Icon

The first thing I saw when I woke up this morning was an alert on my phone telling me that legendary San Diego Padre and all-around great guy Tony Gwynn had died. My first thought was disbelief, and wonder as to just how old he was, which could not have been very old. Then as I thought back, I remembered that he had battled cancer awhile back, but that afterward, he resumed his position as baseball coach at his alma mater, San Diego State, and that it seemed like he was ok.

Then I started reading the articles, about re-occurrences, leaves-of-absence, and more surgeries. Then, the end, at the really young age of 54.

Let this sink in: Tony Gwynn retired with a CAREER batting average of .338. .338! He won eight batting tiles, and collected 3,141 hits, all with the Padres. In 1994 he batted .394 and for the five year period of 1993 through 1997, he hit .368. He was an All-Star 15 times.

So what caused his death? Tobacco, and more precisely, chewing tobacco. He died after suffering through the agonies and surgeries necessitated by
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Tony Gywnn Gear and Memorabilia
the ravages of cancer of the cheek, next to which a pinch of tobacco had remained game after game, season after season, year after year, decade after decade. Until it killed him. At 54.

The accolades are pouring in about someone who seemed to be a genuinely nice guy, universally liked in the cutthroat world of sports.

It’s a sad day in sports, and hopefully a wake-up call for anyone stupid enough to be using tobacco, especially that harmless stuff that you don’t even smoke.

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