June 16, 2014

RIP - Tony Gwynn, Bob Welch, and other 1984 Players

I haven't updated the "RIP" section of this blog in quite some time.  I started that label as a way to honor Gary Carter, who was the first 1984 player to die while I was playing this Statis Pro season (though certainly not the first player to die from 1984).  But two deaths in the past week have forced me to face reality.  These players I idolized as a boy growing up in the 80's are not immortal.  They're human - too human in some instances - and as I rapidly approach my 40's we will only lose more.  It's depressing and a sad reminder that the days of this Statis Pro season really are gone, even as I seek refuge in them through this project.

Growing up my two favorite players, in order, were Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken.  I was and am a die hard Orioles fan, and you can't beat that combo.  But my third favorite player was Tony Gwynn.  I liked skinny Tony and I liked fat Tony.  He always hit no matter his weight.  He was funny, nice, personable, and that squeaky voice seemed so harmless.  But he was ruthless with a bat in his hand.  The day of the batting average has died, replaced by OBP, but there's something more appealing about an outfield sprayed with Tony Gwynn singles compared to Ben Zorbist walking to first. 

I am so very frustrated that Tony's cause of death is oral cancer, due to his terrible habit/addiction to chewing tobacco.  It's even featured in this card.  I hope MLB will make his death more meaningful by finally banning it from the majors.  Kids and young ball players are watching, it's the right thing to do.

The news of Welch's passing stung too, especially because I had just used him in Statis Pro the day before he died.  Welch was transparent about his battles with alcohol over the years.  I haven't heard yet the cause of his passing, though I secretly fear it's probably related.  I always think of Welch in Dodger blue first and not his Oakland uniform, though he is best remembered for his 27 win season with the A's.  I don't believe you'll ever see a starter do that again, especially with so few pitchers starting more than 32 games a year anymore. 

Rest in peace, Tony and Bob, you're free from pain now.  And rest in peace to your peers below...

Rick Behnna, 1/31/12, Cleveland Indians
Frank Wills, 5/11/12, Kansas City Royals
Champ Summers, 10/11/12, San Diego Padres
Rick Camp, 4/25/13, Atlanta Braves
Brad Lesley, 4/27/13, Cincinnati Reds


  1. Sad day yesterday especially living in San Diego. 5 players from that NL Pennant Padres team have died over the years. Alan Wiggins(1991), Eric Show(1994), Mario Ramirz, Tony Gwynn, and Champ Summers--whom I did not know passed until I saw it over here.
    On a lighter note, 1984 holds a special place in my heart because that was the first year I followed baseball closely. Living in San Diego, I remember listening to all those Padre games on the radio with the late Jerry Colman--who passed away back in January,. Good times. Thanks for a walk memory lane.

  2. The Padres haven't had a lot of memorable teams in their history, but 84 certainly ranks up there! I've had a harder time finding success with them in this game, though. Their offense is putrid...

  3. Nettles and McReynolds both hit 20 homeruns, Tony Gwynn batted .351, and Wiggins gets on base and can steal a ton of bases. It was a down year for Steve Garvey in terms of power because he was recovering from a broken thumb. Terry Kennedy also had a down year from 1983 in terms of homeruns and Carmelo Martinez started the season with power but did very little down the stretch. So funny, many players had down years on this team but they still won the pennant. The bullpen was the strength with Lefferts, Gossage, Dravecky.