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Tony Grin

Last week, while I was visiting the coast, I read that San Diego State had renewed Tony Gwynns’ contract as head baseball coach.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise; the Aztecs have had a good year advancing to the NCAA regionals. And besides, they named their ball park Tony Gwynn Stadium. What more could they do for this immensely popular Hall of Famer?

There is one thing: The whole town could turn out for his memorial service.

Tony Gwynn died Monday of oral cancer.

Pitchers couldn’t get him out. One year he nearly hit 400. He could do it all; everybody loved him. He only had one enemy throughout his professional career: Chewing tobacco.

Here was this child of the West Coast — born in Los Angeles, high school in Long Beach, college at San Diego State, played forever with the Padres — and yet his whole life lasted only 54 years because a vile, toxic brown poison ate his face. Chewing tobacco isn’t a performance enhancing drug…it’s a performer killing drug and should be banned from baseball by the commissioner.

We could call it the Tony Gwynn ruling.

I’m Pat McMahon.