SAN DIEGO -- Longtime Padres broadcaster Ted Leitner has been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his kidney, he announced via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. The beloved Padres radio voice of 39 years will undergo surgery to have the kidney removed later this week.Leitner, 70, will call the team's games
SAN DIEGO -- Longtime Padres broadcaster Ted Leitner has been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his kidney, he announced via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. The beloved Padres radio voice of 39 years will undergo surgery to have the kidney removed later this week.
Leitner, 70, will call the team's games on Tuesday and Wednesday against Miami, then is slated for an indefinite leave of absence. He has also called San Diego State football and basketball for decades and remains hopeful he'll be able to return to the Padres' broadcast this season.
Leitner's surgery is slated for Thursday at Sharp Memorial Hospital. He has been told by his doctors that the cancer has not spread and that successful surgery should go a long way toward eradicating it entirely.
"The support is mind-boggling," said Leitner. "I've always realized [the fans] tune in to hear the game. They're not tuning in because of me. ... But I know that Padre fans and Aztec fans have been a big support for a very long time. You can't be on the air this long without them."
The Padres plan to fill Leitner's role in-house, according to a team spokesperson. Jesse Agler, who shared play-by-play with Leitner, will assume the bulk of those duties going forward.
Tony Gwynn Jr., who has called games with both Agler and Leitner in the past, will likely see an increase in his role. Along with Gwynn, sideline reporter Bob Scanlan and TV color commentator Mark Grant will fill in on the radio for select games.
"I know it'll drive me crazy," said Leitner, who couldn't recall ever missing more than a series at a time during his tenure as Padres broadcaster. "I know I'll just go nuts. But I'll be listening, I'll be watching."
"We wish our dear friend Ted Leitner a speedy recovery from surgery," executive chairman Ron Fowler and managing partner Peter Seidler said in a joint statement. "While we'll miss hearing his voice in the booth over the next few weeks, we know he'll be back healthy and stronger than ever. Our thoughts and prayers are with him during this time."
In Leitner's illustrious broadcasting career, he spent 25 years as an anchor for CBS 8 in San Diego, along with calling games for the NFL's chargers and the NBA's Clippers (when they played in San Diego).
Affectionately referred to as "Uncle Teddy," Leitner is best known for his down-to-earth style of calling games, using "my Padres," or "the boys" to refer to the team. He's been a staple in the San Diego sports community for four decades, and he has big plans to continue in that role.
"The reassurance is my doctors are brilliant," said the ever-ebullient Leitner. "My thought is: I'm 70. It could've happened when I was 30, it could've happened to one of my kids. I'll gladly take this, the way it is right now."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.