PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed paid tribute to his college coach, Tony Gwynn, in a meaningful way Monday. Gwynn certainly would have approved.
Reed said that when he arrived at the D-backs’ clubhouse on Monday afternoon, he took the seven cans of dip in his locker cubicle and put them in a garbage can. He opened all seven cans, stripped out the tobacco and got rid of them separately.
Gwynn died at 54 of complications of mouth cancer early Monday, a disease that he firmly believed was caused by the tobacco he stashed in his right side of his cheek during his 20-year major league career.
“Wish me luck,” Reed said.
Reed, who has 16 saves in his first season for the Diamondbacks, played for Gwynn at San Diego State from 2008-10 and admired the way Gwynn did everything he could to assist his players.
“He was there to help people succeed,” Reed said. “He tried to help me be the best person I could be, not only on the field but off the field. He taught me how to be a professional. It was more than baseball.”
Reed was so taken by Gwynn’s style and approach during his recruiting visit in 2007 that when Gwynn offered him a scholarship, Reed cancelled the rest of his visits. A hug from Gwynn sealed the deal.
“Just being in the room with him was kind of unreal,” Reed said. “That’s Tony Gwynn over there. I’m going to play for him? It was no-brainer. I’m going here. He gave me a huge hug. That’s something I’ll always remember. …
“He wanted the best for everybody. I don’t think there’s a clip on TV ever that he doesn’t have a smile on his face. That loud chuckle that he had. That’s something I’ll never forget.”