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Aztec legend salutes another in style.

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

There was a ceremony before San Diego State's game the other day to honor former coach Jim Dietz, but it also gave everyone the opportunity to see how Tony Gwynn, the current coach of the Aztecs, is doing after his winter battle with cancer.

Gwynn underwent eight weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment before surgery to remove the tumor in his right parotid gland, which makes and releases saliva. Because of recurring back problems, he was often using a walker to get around.

He returned for the first game of the season, and his outward appearance has seemingly continued to improve throughout the season.

Gwynn's focus the other day, however, was on Dietz, honored for coaching the Aztecs for 31 years until being replaced for the 2003 season by the Hall of Famer.

"Without Jim Dietz, there wouldn't be a baseball program at San Diego State. Simple as that," Gwynn said at Friday's ceremony, which included the retirement of the No. 4 jersey worn by Dietz.

Dietz was a relatively unknown assistant coach at Oregon when the Aztecs hired him for the 1972 season. He went on to win 1,231 games and led San Diego State to eight appearances in the NCAA tournament.

In addition to Gwynn and so many others who paid homage, one of Dietz's players at San Diego State was Bud Black, the current manager of the San Diego Padres. He remembers Dietz for much more than his approach to baseball.

"I think of him more as a teacher than a coach because I learned so much from him, and not just on the field," Black said. "He has lived his life caring about people.

"If you played for him, it didn't matter if you were the best player or the 25th, he cared about you."

That was also reflected in Dietz's drive to save the baseball program at San Diego State in the '80s, when administrators threatened to make it a victim of budget cuts. He led the efforts to raise funds, and the response showed the community support for the program, ultimately saving it.

Dietz has continued to have a presence in Oregon, leading the effort to resurrect an American Legion baseball program on the central coast of Oregon, with a team centered in Florence.

The message from Tony

Gwynn has now had tumors removed from the same saliva gland three times, though no cancer was found in 1997 or three years ago. "This time they found a malignancy," Gwynn told an interviewer.

While doctors wouldn't make the link, Gwynn said he's sure the tumors are the result of his use of chewing tobacco during his long career.

"For 20 years, I was a workaholic in baseball," Gwynn said. "During that time, every time I would go to work I would dip.

"I would go to batting practice and I would have a dip in. I would get done with a game, have a dip in. In the locker room, have a dip in."

0

Runs scored through 11 innings of a game between UC Riverside and Long Beach State, before the 49ers broke through in the bottom of the 12th for a 1-0 triumph. There were only seven total hits in the game.

5

Home runs hit last week in five games by Georgia Southern's Victor Roache, who took over the NCAA lead with 18. He also has a slugging percentage of .762, with 50 RBIs in 37 games, and is hitting .336.

8

Big Ten baseball games this week that will be televised live or streamed online by the Big Ten Network. Yes, Pac-10 coaches are all in favor of a Pac-12 TV network.

15

One-run games, in its first 33, for Creighton. The Bluejays are 12-3 in those and 26-7 overall.

29

Career home runs for Army shortstop Clint Moore, putting him atop the academy's career list.

ON DECK

NATIONAL

Oklahoma State (27-9, 10-5) comes off a series win over Oklahoma to travel to sixth-ranked Texas A&M (26-10, 11-4), which shares the Big 12 lead with No. 7 Texas.

PAC-10

Arizona State (25-9, 8-4) goes to California (23-9, 9-3) with both teams not wanting to give up any more ground to Oregon State.

UCLA (19-12, 9-3) is at Stanford (16-12, 3-6) and may need to do what OSU did, earn a sweep at the Sunken Diamond, in order to also keep pace with the Beavers.

QUOTABLE

"We got put on our heels last week. I thought we did a great job this weekend of really pushing the envelope and getting back to that no-holds-barred attitude."

ASU COACH TIM ESMAY

ON SWEEPING WSU AFTER BEGIN SWEPT IN THE PREVIOUS SERIES BY OSU

EXTRA BASES

Yes, that really is Stetson in the national polls, at No. 18 in Baseball America this week and 21st in the Collegiate Baseball ranking. The Hatters are 29-7 overall and leading the Atlantic Sun at 12-3. Are they deserving of that lofty status in the polls? Stetson opened the season with a three-game sweep of Georgia and beat No. 10 Florida State in a midweek game.
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Title Annotation:Baseball College
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 20, 2011
Words:854
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