It was the top of the eighth inning and the bases were loaded on a Tuesday night in Toronto. The date was Sept. 14, 1999, in the middle of their three-year world championship streak, and the Yankees were losing at Toronto, 6-2. They seemed on the verge of their seventh
It was the top of the eighth inning and the bases were loaded on a Tuesday night in Toronto. The date was Sept. 14, 1999, in the middle of their three-year world championship streak, and the Yankees were losing at Toronto, 6-2. They seemed on the verge of their seventh loss in their last eight games, unbecoming a dynasty.
Joe Torre remembers it vividly, because that is roughly the first time he felt back to normal after undergoing prostate cancer surgery earlier that year.
"On the field, it was funny," Torre recently recalled. "Here I am, you think you're facing death, and now this is only a game we're playing. Win or lose, but it's not the game of life. This is the game of baseball. We were in Toronto, and we're losing the ballgame and we're starting to come back. ... Bernie Williams was up there with the bases loaded, and I don't mean to sound disrespectful, but I was ready to sell my soul for a home run. Then I realized I was getting back to normal.
"You had players and coaches who were trying to treat me with kid gloves, and then all of a sudden I started going berserk a time or two, and they knew I was all the way back. So it was OK."
Nearly 17 years later, Torre is going strong as Major League Baseball's Chief Baseball Officer and leading a charge to help fight prostate cancer as Father's Day approaches on June 19. MLB and the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) are once again teaming up to hit home runs for prostate cancer research and encourage fans to "Keep Dad in the Game" as part of the yearly celebration of Father's Day and annual Home Run Challenge.
The record will show that Williams did, in fact, give Torre a comforting grand slam to tie that 1999 pennant-race game, leading to a Yankees victory -- as well as a tie-breaking homer the next night for another come-from-behind win as the Bombers recovered and went on to sweep the Braves in the Fall Classic. And the record will show that Torre is "OK" enough as a prostate cancer survivor to keep spreading a message of hope.
He is encouraging baseball fans everywhere to support PCF's efforts to end prostate cancer by delivering an important public service announcement: "to step up to the plate, help save lives and get one step closer to finding a cure."
"Like in the game of baseball, the breaks don't always go your way," Torre said in the PSA. "One in seven men will get diagnosed with prostate cancer. Over 26,000 will die every year. That's half a stadium. When you donate to the Prostate Cancer Foundation's Home Run Challenge ... the life you save could be your own."
"Joe has been a great partner in our progress toward improved treatment outcomes and an eventual cure," said PCF Founder and Chairman Mike Milken. "His work as well as those by MLB and all 30 clubs have helped us raise more than $45 million for research programs that are saving thousands of lives."
During this year's Home Run Challenge, MLB and PCF encourage baseball fans to visit HomeRunChallenge.org to make a pledge for every long ball hit during MLB games played from June 13 through Father's Day on June 19. While visiting HomeRunChallenge.org, fans can also make a simple one-time donation, sign up to receive more information about prostate cancer, and participate in the PCF Home Run Trot promotion to win two all-inclusive tickets to the 87th All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on July 12 in San Diego.
On Father's Day, MLB players, managers, coaches, trainers, umpires and groundskeepers will wear blue wristbands and blue ribbon uniform decals. Additionally, clubs may host pregame ceremonies and use a special blue MLB Father's Day lineup card. MLB Charities has committed $50,000 to PCF as part of this annual effort.
MLB clubs will celebrate Father's Day in specially designed uniforms for the first time. Father's Day uniforms and caps will incorporate light blue into clubs' regular logos against a gray or white background. MLB will donate royalties earned from the sales of licensed Father's Day jerseys and caps to PCF. Go to the MLB.com/shop for the full Father's Day collection.
Since inception, PCF has been a pioneer in new drug development, providing key funding for FDA-approved treatments that improve survivorship. Funding support of the Home Run Challenge by MLB and its clubs has helped lower the prostate cancer death rate by more than 50 percent and made possible discoveries in prostate cancer that now extend to saving lives in eight other forms of cancer.
Ed Randall's Fans for the Cure is another good resource to find out how to seek early detection and where to find events with public screenings. Randall, a longtime New York media and MLB.com personality, welcomes visitors to fans4thecure.org.
"You can do something about it. That's the most important message I want to get across," Torre said during his own recovery. "Don't pretend it's going to go away. It's only going to go away if you take action and do something about it. ... You can live a normal, productive life."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.