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Posts Tagged ‘Cancer Survivors’

Yesterday marked a memorable occasion for our beloved Yankees. In the 7th inning, both Juan Miranda and Colin Curtis took Angels reliever Scott Shields deep. How rare was it? It’s the first time since 1929 that two Yankee rookies went yard in the same inning. (Those two players? Bill Dickey and Sammy Byrd. Dickey went on to have a Hall of Fame career. Byrd became famous for ending his career by crashing into an outfield wall in the first ever night game.)

The Yankees expect Miranda to pop a few long balls; it is the principle reason he is with the major league squad. But for those who missed it, Curtis’ shot was a direct-from-Hollywood-screenplay type of home run. The only reason Curtis was in the game at all was due to the horrible umpiring: home plate ump Bill Emmerich tossed Brett Gardner, ostensibly for arguing balls and strikes. The only thing was, the count when Gardner was ejected was 0-2. So, not only was Curtis facing a veteran, former all-star pitcher with a 95+mph fastball; he inherited a no-ball, two-strike count. Just to make things more unlikely, Curtis had not gone yard since Spring Training. But like any Hollywood “B” script writer will tell you, the most unlikely scenario is exactly how it needs to play out for the hero and when Curtis’ laser cleared the right-field wall, it was…well, it was just the latest chapter in the Yankees best feel-good story in a long time.

Colin Curtis really deserves one of those “B” movies to be made about his life. When you really stop to think about it, his story is one of those that seem to come straight from a fairy-tale. It is one of those stories that when you tell your grandchildren about it, they’ll swear you’ve been spiking your prune juice – because it is just THAT unbelievable. To put it simply, Curtis stat line says he should be dead, not hitting improbable home runs at Yankee Stadium.

Curtis was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000, at the age of 15. By the time treatment began, it had spread to the blood vessels and lymph nodes throughout his abdomen, making it a stage III cancer, the most advanced form. The five-year survival rate for that type of advanced stage cancer is only 48%. Curtis beat the cancer, returning in time to rejoin his high school sophomore team. He not only rejoined, he played well enough to earn a scholarship to Arizona State, where he wound up hitting .324. After his college career, Colin was selected in the fourth round (134th overall) by the Yankees in the 2006 amateur draft. He then made it to the major league spring training camp as a non-roster invitee this year; where he opened some eyes by hitting a walk-off home run in the Yankees first spring training game. And now he is on the major league roster, having appeared in 14 games so far and hitting what may be the Yankees most improbable home run of the season.

Quite frankly, this kid has beaten the odds at every level. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to want Colin Curtis to succeed. But if you’re a Yankees fan and don’t get a bit of a chill down your spine the next time Colin Curtis is announced, then perhaps you need a transfusion of humanity.

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