Padres Editorial: Death in Baseball


The MLB world was saddened Tuesday with the news that former Braves and Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson had passed away at the age of 29. At one time Hanson was the Braves #1 prospect and projected future ace. Now he is gone and everything that we write about baseball is put into perspective. We don’t expect this sadness from our heroes. We don’t expect them to go this way.

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In 2014 the San Diego Padres lost several of their own legends. Tony Gwynn passed away too soon, along with legendary announcer Jerry Coleman. Yet it is different when current players lives are cut short. The St. Louis Cardinals lost Oscar Taveras just months after he led them in the playoffs, prompting them to get Jason Heyward. How can that happen?

With Hanson, we don’t know all the details of his death at this time. We know Sunday morning he began experiencing some symptons before going to the hospital and going into a coma from “catastrophic organ failure”. He was unable to recover and passed away late Monday night. He had a great season with the Braves in 2009 and seemed destined to be the future ace of the team. Yet his numbers slowly digressed each year after. He was traded to the Angels after 2012 and was released after a season. He made several comeback attempts but never pitched in the majors again. On top of that he lost his step-brother in 2013 which impacted him deeply.

The Padres family remembers when Mike Darr passed away after a car accident in 2002 the day before spring training. It doesn’t seem like too long ago when Darryl Kile just didn’t wake up one day for the St. Louis Cardinals – which was also 2002. Our escape from reality is not immune to the tragedies of real life.

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We mourn these tragedies because it just doesn’t seem to make sense. We still see Tony Gwynn getting his 3,000th hit in Montreal, and it still doesn’t make sense that he isn’t here to join the broadcast booth with stories from the good old days. Major League Baseball is full of real human beings, battling demons and health issues all the time. Jon Lester is a cancer survivor. Daniel Norris found out earlier this season he has thyroid cancer, then found out he could finish the season before surgery and was traded from the Blue Jays to the Tigers in the process.

What’s important? Who the Padres are going to get to play shortstop? Or a whole lot more.