Tony Gwynn’s death hit very close to home for Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
Not only was Gwynn an icon in Strasburg’s hometown of San Diego during his 20 seasons with the Padres, but the Hall of Famer also was Strasburg’s manager at San Diego State, where the right-hander developed into arguably the most highly touted college pitcher of all time.
Now, upon learning that decades of chewing tobacco might have played a role in the cancer that eventually killed his former skipper, Strasburg says he plans to give up dipping for good.
“I think it’s a disgusting habit, looking back on it,” Strasburg said Monday, via 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.”
The Nationals’ schedule prevented Strasburg from flying home to attend the funeral for Gywnn, whom he called “such an unbelievable person.”
“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.”
Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Addison Reed, another San Diego State alum, said last week that he, too, is giving up smokeless tobacco.