It’s been just over a week since legendary Hall of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn passed away, and his death is causing some major league players to question the use of tobacco in baseball. Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals is quitting chewing tobacco after finding out that the substance, which Gwynn habitually chewed throughout his 20 seasons in the big leagues, may have played a role in the cancer that finally killed Gwynn last Monday.
Stephen Strasburg, more than your typical MLB player, felt incredibly close to Gwynn. Not only was the Padre legend a hometown hero for Strasburg, who is from San Diego, but Gwynn was also Strasburg’s manager when he played at San Diego State. Strasburg had a very good relationship with his former coach over the three years he was at San Diego State, and this new information about Gwynn’s death has totally reversed his opinion about the presence of chewing tobacco in baseball.
“I think it’s a disgusting habit, looking back on it,” Strasburg said Monday to MLB.com. “I was pretty naive when I started. Just doing it here and there, I didn’t think it was going to be such an addiction. … Bottom line is, I want to be around for my family. This is something that can affect people the rest of your life. (Chewing tobacco is) so prevalent in this game. It’s something we all kind of grew up doing.”
Unfortunately, Strasburg was unable to make the trip back home to San Diego in order to attend Gwynn’s funeral because of the Nationals’ schedule.
“I thought there was an outside chance I would be able to fly home and attend the private service that they had on Saturday,” he said. “There was no possible way. It kind of sucked not being able to be there for it.”
Along with Strasburg, another San Diego State alum, relief pitcher Addison Reed of the Arizona Diamondbacks, has also vowed to quit chewing tobacco. Let’s hope more players get on board with what these two are doing. There’s no need for such a potentially harmful substance in the game of baseball.
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