SAN DIEGO, CA – As a player over a twenty season career, his batting average was ten points higher than Wade Boggs and Rod Carew. Think about that for a minute or two, folks. Boggs and Carew were thought to be the best hitters of their generation, yet Tony Gwynn ranks among legendary baseball names of yore such as Cobb, Hornsby, and Shoeless Joe.
Ted Williams represents his era the same way Gwynn leads his and the pair are forever linked in adhering to the scientific manner of hitting a baseball.
A new attention to another subject is to be afforded by Tony Gwynn even with his passing last week at the age of 54. Ironically, set to air as a Public Service Announcement (PSA) is a clip of Captain Video, as he was called, talking of the perils of chewing tobacco which helped attribute to his untimely death. Notice I use the word helped as there is no one overriding factor in what is to be blamed for getting cancer. Often people look for a cause to the cancer people suffer as nothing is more insulting to a person diagnosed with the disease than to be asked what the culprit is as if to say a person deserved their fate by smoking, drinking, or whatever causal matter has them in survival mode. Sometimes genetics plays a part in the type of cancer a person is stricken with and in the same breath, is how certain people can fight off wicked forms of the disease.
Gwynn was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2010. It metasticised, he had surgery and used oncologic medicine to help remedy the situation. Mr. Padre made four years post-operation and just wasn’t lucky in recovering. Speaking from experience, my story is much the same as his but was able to get nineteen years out of Round One with oral cancer and am working on four years with Round Two. The similarity serves notice of no rhyme or reason to battling cancer the same way there is no telling why everybody doesn’t get cancer from chewing tobacco, or the HPV virus, or alcohol, or McDonald’s French fries.
I’d like to remember Tony Gwynn as the soft-spoken throwback of a baseball player who applied his craft with little self-promoting seen in today’s athlete. Some of what he will be remembered for: NL Batting Champ (8X), NL Gold Glove (5X), NL All-Star (15X), stole 30+ bases in four of his first six full seasons, never batted below .300 after his rookie year. The rightfielder struck out on average, 29 times per season or what equals Curtis Granderson’s monthly output and chose to stay at home in San Diego instead of chasing more money elsewhere.
Another athlete, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, has recently been stricken with oral cancer as well. I’ll do some of HOFer Tony Gwynn’s work by telling all of you that oral cancer is on the rise and if caught early enough is treatable. Cancer doesn’t discriminate, so get yourself to a dentist for a cancer screening.
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