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Yanks’ Strawberry Says He’s OK

October 21, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ Gaunt but upbeat, Darryl Strawberry made his first public appearance Wednesday since undergoing surgery for colon cancer and called his prognosis good.

``Don’t worry _ I’m going to live,″ he said at a cancer fund-raising event.

The 36-year-old Yankee slugger was released from a hospital last Friday and had remained at home before he turned up at a midtown sporting goods store, which is selling $3.99 ``Darryl Strawberry towels,″ with $1 from each going to cancer research.

``Darryl Strawberry has stepped up to the plate so many times over the years in critical situations, and today he steps up to the plate on behalf of the American Cancer Society and its efforts to get people to learn about colon cancer, to learn about ways of early detection,″ said David Destino, chairman of the New York chapter.

Doctors last week removed a tumor and a 16-inch section of Strawberry’s large intestine. They said he must undergo chemotherapy after he returns next week to California, where he grew up.

Strawberry said he had continued to play baseball for two months despite not feeling well, thinking that ``if it’s not an injury I can see or feel, I’m not going to do anything about it.″

He credited his wife, Charisse, with insisting that he get the checkup that revealed the cancer. The lanky slugger visibly lost weight on the hospital’s liquid diet.

``I’m very fortunate. I was very lucky to get in at an early stage and realize the problem that I was having,″ he said, calling that a lesson for others.

``The best thing I can do is try to let people understand that things do happen, and it can happen to you,″ he said. ``The doctors have educated me very well about this disease.″

Strawberry said he had no doubt that the Yankees would win the World Series. As he spoke, they held a 3-0 edge and needed one more victory over the San Diego Padres.

``The boss (Yankee owner George Steinbrenner) called me yesterday to tell me to get ready for the parade,″ said Strawberry.

Strawberry said he had predicted Tuesday’s three-run homer by Steve Brosius that put the Yankees ahead for good in a 5-4 victory, and had surprised his wife by jumping into the air. ``That’s something the doctors told me, `don’t do. Don’t be jumping around.‴

A crowd of perhaps 150 people gathered on the sidewalk outside the store, drawn by word of mouth that the baseball star was inside. ``Dar-ryl! Dar-ryl!″ some chanted, sounding like mothers calling their sons home for dinner.

``I knew when he came up with the Mets in 1982 there was something different about him. And the way he comes back _ it tells you he’s a fighter,″ said Darrell Phillips, 34, of the Bronx.

Phillips, who works as a doorman, said he has a photo of Strawberry on his bedroom wall. ``It ’s right above Paul O’Neil. I look at it first thing every day.″

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