June 16, 2014
RIP - Tony Gwynn, Bob Welch, and other 1984 Players
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