Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn, the current head coach at San Diego State, has cancer of a salivary gland.
While he hasn’t talked to his doctors about a possible cause, Gwynn believes the cancer was caused by his longtime use of chewing tobacco, a habit maintained even after retiring from baseball.
While Gwynn’s prognosis is good, the same cannot be said about the future of smokeless tobacco in Major League Baseball.
One study showed that as much as 50% of big leaguers were dipping in the late ’80s. MLB banned the use of chewing tobacco in the minor leagues since 1993 and indications are that this has helped lower the use in the big leagues in recent decades.
Back in April, congress got involved by asking MLB and the players to ban chewing tobacco. Still, if MLB wants to ban chewing tobacco is must be collectively bargained, and of course, the players aren’t going to give up their habit lightly.
But if the always popular Gwynn becomes the poster-child for banning tobacco from the field, MLB may now have their best weapon yet.
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