Schmidt feeling grateful, energized, ready for Sundays
Phils great, who recently battled cancer, will join broadcast crew for 13 games this year
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Mike Schmidt feels fantastic, lucky, re-energized and excited about the future.
Not long ago he had reasons to feel otherwise.
He suffered a major scare last August when he visited his dermatologist to check something on his right hand. His doctor recommended a full-body check, where he found a mole on his back. It was Stage 3 melanoma. Two operations, radiation and chemotherapy followed, but Schmidt arrived Sunday morning at Bright House Field in good spirits, talking about his improved health (recent scans have been clear of cancer) and how he plans to broadcast 13 Sunday afternoon games this season in Philadelphia.
"You get scared of the sun, man, I'm telling you," Schmidt said, repositioning his body so the sun no longer hit his face as he sat at a picnic table just outside the Phillies' clubhouse. "It's an evil thing, but we need it.
"Was it scary? If you sit and ponder the possibilities that come from something like this, yeah, it could be. But I'm also the luckiest man alive that I happened to duck into my dermatologist one day. It was kind of a rough road for two to three months. I'm out of it now. Obviously the moral of the story is, everybody, get your skin checked."
Schmidt is arguably the greatest third baseman in baseball history. He hit 548 home runs. He won three National League MVP Awards, the World Series MVP Award in 1980, 10 Gold Gloves, six Silver Slugger Awards and made the NL All-Star team 12 times. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.
He always felt unbeatable.
"The older you get, the more you realize that as you're getting old. You're thankful you're a healthy man, but you still carry some sort of invincibility," Schmidt said. "If you have been through athletically what I and these guys here have, you really do feel a bit invincible. It's the best word I can use.
"I don't anymore; I don't know whether 'normal' is the right word. I've been in fusion and chemo centers sitting in a chair with a needle in my hand, with people that are dying all around me. I hoped I would never see anything like that. It became normal for me for over a month to sit with these people who were further along with their cancer. I was usually the most fortunate person in the room."
Sometime in January, after Comcast SportsNet removed Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews from the Phillies' broadcast booth, the Phils contacted Schmidt about joining the team.
Thanks, but no thanks.
He was in the midst of chemotherapy, and there was no way he planned to get on a plane and travel as an everyday broadcaster.
But Schmidt -- who received chemotherapy for the final time on Valentine's Day -- the Phillies and Comcast then came up with the "Sundays with Schmidt" idea, where he will join play-by-play man Tom McCarthy and color analysts Jamie Moyer or Matt Stairs in the booth on Sundays at Citizens Bank Park.
"I'm very excited about it," Schmidt said.
He will fly into Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, watch the Saturday game, then broadcast the Sunday game.
"It's going to be much like it's always been when I visit the booth, when they ask me to come in and talk about something," Schmidt said. "I used to have a blast with Wheels and Matthews when I'd drop in for a few innings. Sarge and I would play off each other, and we'd have some laughs. We'd talk about back when and tell some stories. Not as informative. The Sunday broadcasts are not going to be filled with information and stats. It's going to be more of an entertainment day. Who knows what's going to come up, but it's going to be a lot lighter."
Schmidt had been a special instructor in Phillies Spring Training since 2002, but he had to cancel those plans this year because of the cancer.
He hopes to be back next spring.
"God willing, I will be in uniform next year," he said. "I'm looking forward to that, especially with a lot of the guys who are back. I'd love to get to know Roy Halladay. I've got the little stubble on my face, trying to look like Roy Halladay. It just isn't working. I'd love to get to know him and Brad Lidge and some of the younger guys who are guest-instructing. I've got it on my calendar."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.