Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn, a 15-time All-Star and eight-time batting champion, has finished an eight-week program of chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer of the parotid gland, and says he hopes to return to his job as head baseball coach at San Diego State later this month, according to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The former San Diego Padres star was diagnosed with cancer in August and underwent surgery in October, completing his cancer treatment shortly before Christmas. In addition to the cancer, his health woes were complicated by back problems caused by being overweight.
Gwynn was a once svelte outfielder (listed at 5-11, 185 on baseball-reference.com!) who became increasingly portly as his legendary career progressed. After retiring, the five-time Gold Glove winner became noticeably bigger. His size contributed to disk problems in his back, which got so bad that it became difficult to walk.
“I was in bad shape,” Gwynn told the Union-Tribune. “Not only was I dealing with the cancer, I was having to use a walker to get around and I wasn’t doing a great job of that.”
He said that he isn’t sure about the status of his cancer, though he did point out that while he can’t say it’s cured, he feels good and doctors tell him he is ahead of schedule. He also said that he’s been “walking on my own for about a month now.”
Gwynn told the paper that his recovery was aided by the numerous cards and messages he received, saying that the support made it “hard to be down.” In addition to his coaching job, he said he also plans to return as a commentator on Padres telecasts this season.
As for his size, the career .338 hitter says he has lost a significant amount of weight and is getting around much better.
“I can’t tell you how many pounds because I haven’t gotten on a scale,” he said. “But I can guess the amount is considerable since I have sweats that fall off me now and my jackets seem like they are many sizes too big.
“Losing the weight has also helped my back and my walking.”
Gwynn, only 50, is a class act who has as much knowledge about baseball and hitting as anyone on the planet. Losing him as a coach and broadcaster would be a huge loss for the game. Get well Tony.