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Hall of Fame slugger Mike Schmidt discusses skin cancer recovery

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Mike Schmidt, perhaps the greatest third baseman in baseball history and a harsh critic of players using performance-enhancing drugs, sat down with reporters Saturday to discuss his recovery from skin cancer.

"I'm a very lucky man," said the former Philadelphia Phillies slugger and Hall of Famer about his battle with stage 3 melanoma. “I've done just about everything I can to destroy the cancer cells in my body.”

The 64-year-old had two operations and went through the usual rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. For the first time in 13 years, though, he wasn't able to join the Phillies as a spring training instructor.

Schmidt saw a doctor in August about a growth on his hand and a mole was later discovered on his back. A biopsy revealed the advanced stage of cancer.

"Was it scary? If you sit and ponder the possibilities," Schmidt acknowledged to reporters as he sat in shade at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. "It was kind of a rough road.

"The older you get ... you still carry some sort of invincibility. The moral of the story is everybody get checked."

Schmidt was a 12-time All-Star who hit 548 home runs and drove in 1,595 runs from 1972 to 1989. He played his entire 18-year career with the Phillies, winning  National League MVP honors in 1980, '81 and '86. He also won 10 Gold Gloves, a reason many consider him the greatest third baseman ever to play in the majors.

Schmidt, who led the Phillies to their first World Series title in 1980, will return to the broadcast booth this season, primarily providing analysis during Sunday games in Philadelphia.

As a "Boy of Summer," though, he has new respect for the sun.

"I don't like the sun," he said. "It's evil."

Wire service and Internet reports contributed to this story.

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