In one of his final acts, baseball great Tony Gwynn tried to make sure his fellow players did not emulate him in one aspect: his addiction to chewing tobacco.
Gwynn took part in an anti-tobacco public service announcement (PSA) -- produced by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society -- before he lost his battle with cancer on June 16.
The PSA will not be released to the public, but later this year, it will be shown to all major and minor league baseball teams.
For the video, Gwynn was too weak to speak, but he contributed a simple and direct message through a statement: “My advice to anyone would be if you aren’t using spit tobacco, please don’t start. And if you are using, try to quit. If not for yourself, then do it for the people you love.”
The Hall of Famer blamed smokeless tobacco for his fatal cancer.
His message in the PSA is drawing immediate praise from Georgia Robins Sadler, Ph.D., a past president of the American Cancer Society in San Diego.
Sadler told NBC 7 Gwynn made it his mission to save other people from the consequences of tobacco use.
“His parting message to us was, ‘Let’s make a difference. Let’s finish using tobacco. Let’s make that history,’” said Sadler.
Major League Baseball has not banned the use of tobacco, but after Gwynn’s death, MLB officials said they will continue to focus on education.
About 33 percent of baseball players are spit tobacco users, according to the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society.
Two players who worked under Gwynn at San Diego State University – Addison Reed and Steven Strasberg – have vowed to quite using chewing tobacco in their coach’s honor.