Michael Milken has been a prostate cancer survivor for
nearly 20 years now, and during one of his now-routine
broadcast-booth visits during the fourth inning of
Thursday's Indians-Reds game in Cincinnati, he cited
Major League Baseball's ongoing partnership with his
Prostate Cancer Foundation as the reason "most
screenings happen during the 30 days immediately after
"The idea 17 years ago was keep Dad in the game, [and]
the death rate is down almost 50 percent since we
started," Milken said on the 14th stop of a
19-ballpark tour to help raise awareness. "In addition
to that, 92 percent of all men now live five times longer,
and with new treatments that are coming out now, we're
going to get to 100 percent in four to five years. ...
It's been amazing to see the support."
As Father's Day weekend approaches, monetary pledges
for the 16th annual Prostate Cancer Foundation "Home
Run Challenge" are up to $1,162,000. The joint
initiative between MLB, the MLB Players Association and PCF
culminates on Sunday, and is intended to increase awareness
for prostate cancer early detection. Since its inception,
it has raised nearly $40 million for PCF, the leading
philanthropic organization funding and accelerating
prostate cancer research.
So far, baseball fans and PCF sponsors have collectively
pledged $14,000 per home run hit during select games
between June 7-17, including all games on Father's Day.
With 83 homers hit at this point (44 National League, 39
American League), $1,092,000 is slated to be donated toward
research for prostate cancer. Fans still can pledge to the
cause by calling 1-800-798-CURE (2873) or visiting HomeRunChallenge.org.
Joe Torre, MLB executive vice president of baseball
operations, continues to be a spokesman for the partnership
between baseball and PCF. He was diagnosed with and
underwent surgery for prostate cancer shortly after his
Yankees swept San Diego in the 1998 World Series. After a
few months, he was back managing a dynasty, and he has
cited early detection as a reason he has overcome the
disease. Reds manager Dusty Baker also is among those in
the game who are prostate cancer survivors, something
Milken cited during the game at Cincinnati.
"This is the only sport where you can really sit there
and talk to someone during the game, and a chance as a
family to come to the game," Milken said. "That
was originally our goal -- the great American pastime, come
out, and what better way to raise money than the home run?
"There's been a lot of controversy recently about
whether you should or shouldn't take the test. This is
a diagnostic, an early warning system. It's made an
enormous difference. With the money raised from home runs,
there will be a new test coming out: a simple DNA urine
test, which will be even more accurate. And you'll get
Knowledge is power on Father's Day in baseball. Two
members of the legendary Beach Boys, Mike Love and Bruce
Johnston, recorded a special message in support of the
prostate cancer awareness campaign. The public service
announcement will run this weekend online and in ballparks.
On Father's Day, MLB players, managers, coaches,
trainers, umpires and groundskeepers will wear blue
wristbands and blue ribbon uniform decals. Additionally,
clubs will host pregame ceremonies and use a special blue
MLB Father's Day lineup card. Major League Baseball
Charities has committed $50,000 to PCF as part of this
Another MLB executive prominently involved with prostate
cancer awareness efforts is D-backs president Derrick Hall.
He was diagnosed with it last September, and underwent
surgery in November to remove his prostate.
"There was still some escape of the cancer, something
I'll have to monitor. It might require radiation in the
future, but so far I'm OK," Hall said on Tuesday.
"I take great pride in seeing the partnership MLB has
with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Michael Milken and his
group. The Home Run Challenge has been very successful in
helping the overall efforts.
"Prostate cancer is becoming our [men's] version
of breast cancer. It's more prevalent now than it ever
has been, it's the second-leading cause of death among
men for cancer, and it's something that's near and
dear to me obviously."
As if fighting prostate cancer this past offseason was not
hard enough, Hall also had to face the loss of his father,
who died of pancreatic cancer -- a more deadly disease.
"This year, Father's Day hits me really hard
because I unfortunately lost my dad in December, and I
obviously worry about leaving my kids one day to prostate
cancer," Hall said. "I worry about them all the
time because of the hereditary nature of cancer."
Founded in 1993, PCF has raised more than $479 million and
provided funding to more than 1,600 research projects at
nearly 200 institutions in 15 countries around the world.
For more information about PCF, please visit
MLBCommunity.org or PCF.org.
"People ask me if it is a burden on the family. I
don't look at it that way," Hall said. "I
went public with it and continued to drive awareness to
have people screen themselves. If you detect early, there
is a treatment. I'm trying to educate men, drive
awareness, and having the focus on this leading up to
Father's Day is so important in helping."
Mark Newman is
enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball
fans on his MLB.com
community blog. This story was not subject to the
approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.