San Diego Padres Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn underwent surgery to remove a new cancerous tumor inside his right cheek on Tuesday. Gwynn, who is currently the head baseball coach at San Diego State, previously had a malignant growth removed from the same spot in August 2010.
The 15-time All-Star blamed the original growth on smokeless tobacco, which he used for more than 20 years during his professional career and for almost 10 more after he retired. Since quitting in 2010, Gwynn has spoken out about the harm “dip” can do and has urged his players not to use it.
Gwynn’s wife, Alicia, has said that doctors do not believe the cancer had spread outside of her husband’s salivary gland. But they will know more after the operation.
San Diego State issued a statement that said if the cancer “is found to be localized” then Gwynn should be able to return to coach for the Aztecs soon.
Padres CEO Jeff Moorad issued the following statement:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Tony and his family today. Tony has a fighting spirit and we have faith that he will continue to battle this disease with the same perseverance that was the hallmark of his playing career. We know Mr. Padre has all of San Diego rooting for him.”
We echo that sentiment. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gwynn and his family. Two of us around here grew up in San Diego and his professionalism, demeanor, winning smile and fun-loving attitude endeared him to fans even more than his statistics. He never carried himself like the superstar athlete he was, instead Gwynn just always seemed like any other great guy on the street.
I have been lucky enough to run into Tony numerous times throughout my life and I can say without a doubt he is one of the nicest, most humble sports figures I’ve ever met.
Good luck with your fight Mr. Gwynn, we’re all pulling for you. If anyone can beat cancer for the second time it’s the real Batman.