Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Cal Ripken Jr. says he’s cancer free after March surgery

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Cal Ripken Jr. revealed Thursday he is cancer free after surgery in March to remove a tumor from his prostate.

Known as “The Iron Man” for his record streak of playing in 2,632 consecutive games, the Hall of Famer for the Baltimore Orioles was diagnosed with cancer in February. He wasn’t experiencing symptoms, but bloodwork results prompted a visit to a urologist. After several tests, a biopsy detected cancer.

“Got the surgery, got out, recovered,” Ripken said during a Zoom call. “All the different post-analysis said the cancer was all contained. I’m cancer free, and I can continue my normal life. I thank my lucky stars that occurred.”

Ripken, who turns 60 next week, initially decided to keep his story secret. But he figured that by sharing his experience he might encourage others to have a prostate test.

“I kind of toyed with the idea of not telling anybody about that, ever,” he said. “It feels like it was a personal issue. … It proved that if you get the diagnosis early, the outcome can be fantastic.”

Ripken became emotional when talking about the scare.

“We all know people that have had different cancers, and you wonder how it would feel if it happened to you,” he said. “I know what that feels like now.”

“One of my early reactions was to call my brother Bill (a former big league player) to make sure he was getting his regular physicals,” he added. “When you retire, that responsibility falls on you. Sometime we avoid that.”

Ripken’s hopes his ordeal might prove beneficial.

“I thought maybe my story – as great as it is because it has a happy ending – could encourage and maybe bring the awareness that you should get checked, you should go to the doctor, do all the things necessary so can you catch something like this early,” Ripken said. “Because when you do, you have a lot of options and it’s a good outcome.”

Twenty-five years ago next month, Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak by extending his own streak to 2,131. Most of those games were played when the Orioles were struggling to win, but he took pride in suiting up every day in an effort to help Baltimore win that night.

“My cancer was the same way. You can feel sorry for yourself in the beginning and say, `Why me? Why did this happen to me?”‘ he said. “Or you can deal with the reality of it and do everything you can to get past it and move on.”

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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