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Tony Gwynn can smile again.

O's are Legends

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Tony Gwynn and his wife, Alicia, discuss his cancer ordeal.


"He walked in, and we all knew he was in trouble," Aztecs senior outfielder Patrick Colwell said. "His face was pretty beat up. He was bent over at the waist and basically clutching on to that walker like it was the only thing that was keeping him upright. Basically, half a side of his face was not working. He couldn't blink his eye, he couldn't move his mouth on that side and he was just forced to talk out of one side of his mouth. And grief set upon everybody."

The players circled around him as Gwynn began to speak. His words were more deliberate than normal, slightly muffled. He explained that he had cancer, that he thought it was from smokeless tobacco and that, because of his upcoming chemotherapy and radiation, he was not going to be around the team in the foreseeable future.

And then Tony Gwynn began to cry.

When the treatment was over, he unloaded on that bell. It was piercing. But then there was another noise no one had heard in months.

"That day he rang that bell was the first time I heard him really give one of those big hefty laughs out," Tony Jr. said. "It was a relief to hear. Even though it was only coming out of one side of his mouth, it was enough for us to be like, 'Oh, OK, he's in there somewhere.'"

March came, and Tony Gwynn was pronounced cancer free. He weighed exactly 250 pounds, just 20 pounds more than his playing weight, and on his diet of oranges and cottage cheese, he expected to hit 230 by Easter. He didn't want to be what Joe Garagiola was: a spokesman against smokeless tobacco. It wasn't his nature to be high profile. He was just happy to have a clubhouse to come to, just happy that he could smile a full smile and pass a locker room mirror without needing to look at his eye or tug on his lip.

All was right with the world again. There were jars of sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds and gum in the locker room.

And out in the left-field batting cage, the former cancer patient was chatting about hitting … chatting about hitting … chatting about hitting.

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