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Leitner back in Padres' booth after surgery

Broadcaster thanks fans for support during cancer scare
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- As only he could, Ted Leitner opened Tuesday evening's broadcast of a 4-2 San Diego loss with a rundown of the Padres' recent 10-game road trip through Miami, St. Louis and Atlanta.

It was only after he had summed up the 5-5 run -- and groused about a few questionable umpiring decisions along the way -- that Leitner addressed the topic at hand.

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SAN DIEGO -- As only he could, Ted Leitner opened Tuesday evening's broadcast of a 4-2 San Diego loss with a rundown of the Padres' recent 10-game road trip through Miami, St. Louis and Atlanta.

It was only after he had summed up the 5-5 run -- and groused about a few questionable umpiring decisions along the way -- that Leitner addressed the topic at hand.

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The beloved Padres play-by-play man was back behind the mic -- cancer-free.

In May, Leitner was diagnosed with a tumor in his kidney, and he began an indefinite leave of absence at the end of the month. Leitner had successful surgery to remove the kidney on May 31, and he learned the tumor was benign.

Before the top of the first inning, Leitner took the mic for the first time since.

"It's wonderful to be back," Leitner said. "I'll talk more about -- not so much what I've been through -- but what you've done for me out there, you Padre fans. I thank you, I thank you, I thank you."

In the top of the second inning, Leitner more formally addressed the surgery -- specifically the moment he learned the tumor was benign.

"How could that happen?" Leitner asked. "Why would that happen? I believe and always will believe it was you folks reaching out with your thoughts and your prayers. I believe it 100 percent. And I thank you, my children thank you and my grandchildren thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now, baseball."

And just like that, Leitner -- known as "Uncle Teddy" among Padres fans -- was back to calling the series opener against Oakland.

It's Leitner's 39th season calling Padres games. A beloved figure in San Diego sports, he spent 25 years as an anchor for CBS 8 in San Diego. He also called games for the NFL's Chargers and the NBA's Clippers when they played in San Diego.

Leitner took a few moments on the field before the game to catch up with players, coaches and team personnel. Manager Andy Green made a point to stop by. The topic of the Padres' quest for their first no-hitter came up.

"We flirted with a couple no-hitters while he was gone," Green said with a smile. "As much as we would've loved to see one, it wouldn't have been right to not have him on the mic that day."

Clayton Richard came closest with 7 2/3 no-hit innings in Miami on June 10. The veteran left-hander sought out Leitner before Tuesday's game, and Leitner recalled their encounter, on air, during the bottom of the first.

"I just couldn't do it without you there," Leitner said was Richard's quip.

"Clayton," Leitner said, sternly. "If I'm not there next time: Do it."

Then Leitner gave the half-laugh that's become synonymous with ends of his tales. Indeed, it was storytime with Uncle Teddy -- as if he'd never left.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres