Price plans big return as SU2C Auction launches
Tigers voice aims to call every game in '13; club offers three items for bid
Jim Price plans on broadcasting every Tigers game next year. He plans on being in Lakeland, Fla., when the Tigers report to Spring Training in February.
In other words, he not only plans on beating cancer, he plans on getting back to his normal life at the microphone on Tigers radio broadcasts. Considering where he stood a year ago, awaiting surgery to remove two adrenal glands after his second bout with cancer, it's incredible to even ponder.
"I'm very lucky," Price said Monday. "I wish I could thank everybody individually."
Among the many good people affected by cancer in baseball recently, Price is one of the lucky ones. The former Tigers catcher, part of the 1968 World Series championship team, and longtime broadcaster has become intertwined with the team's history, and his bout raised a great amount of concern.
Monday's opening day of the Winter Meetings saw Major League Baseball taking a major step to raise money toward finding a cure.
These Winter Meetings include an MLB.com Auction to benefit Stand Up To Cancer, which MLB has supported since 2008 as founding sponsor. Public relations representatives from all 30 clubs were inspired to act based on individual club members impacted by the disease, and they jointly organized the auction and announced it Monday in Nashville, Tenn., with MLB staff. Bidding closes at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, with more than 70 baseball-related experiences ranging from clubhouse tours by players to lunches with general managers to team bus rides to meet-and-greets with 14 Hall of Fame players.
The Tigers are contributing a few different items. Triple Crown champion Miguel Cabrera autographed a baseball for the auction, as did Hall of Famer Al Kaline. The Tigers also offered up four tickets to a game in April or May and a chance to watch pregame batting practice from the field.
If Price has his way, he'll be there. His energy is up, and his will is strong. He spoke with traveling secretary Tyson Steele recently about next season, and he already has his eye on a new suitcase for all the road trips.
"I'm doing every game next year," he declared.
He claims he wants to work for 10 more years, which would take him past his 80th birthday and push him around the same age Ernie Harwell stood when he retired in 2002. But he's clearly grateful for having today.
Price's first bout with cancer came a couple years ago, when doctors found a tumor in his left kidney. They eventually removed the kidney, which seemed to put him on the road to health. At the time, he called it a miracle to be cancer-free.
Then last offseason, the miracle turned out to be too good to be true. His surgery to remove his adrenal glands took place in January, and it left him significantly weakened, not to mention about 40 pounds lighter.
Doctors removed the cause for concern, but he still had to undergo oral chemotherapy, which left him weakened for much of the season. He had to leave the team in the middle of an early-season road trip after falling ill, and he was held back from the team's West Coast trip afterwards.
Missing the games, he said, was the toughest part.
"I told them, 'When I'm around you, I feel OK. I feel younger,'" Price said.
What helped him through it, he said, was the support of his wife and the feedback he received from fans.
"I've been doing this for a long time, and I didn't realize how big of an impact it had," Price said. "I never realized that. I tried to do my best. I feel lucky to play on one of the greatest teams in Tiger history, and then to broadcast games for all these years."
He's still undergoing chemotherapy as a precaution, and he will be next season. But thanks to medical research, he's taking medication to replace his adrenal glands. He's working out or walking daily, and he has kept off the weight he lost from last winter's illness.
With medical and emotional support, he's getting through it. He's ready to get back to games now, and hearing about the Tigers' signing of Torii Hunter only strengthened his determination to get back to work and stay back.
"I'm very lucky," he said, "and I work for a great organization. I told everybody [I wouldn't do it] if I felt like a burden, but it's very heartening. I look forward to Spring Training."