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Chuck Tanner, 'No problems at all'

February 06, 2001

From CNN Sports Illustrated
Tuesday February 06, 2001
By Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Former Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves manager Chuck Tanner is nearing the end of several months of radiation treatment for prostate cancer and has been told to expect a full recovery.

Tanner, who managed the Pirates to the 1979 World Series championship, learned he had prostate cancer in October during his annual checkup at the Mayo Clinic. The cancer was detected early, and Tanner has been told that any side effects from the 40 external radiation treatments should subside within several months.

The 71-year-old Tanner drives 90 minutes each morning from his home in New Castle, Pa., to Pittsburgh's Shadyside Hospital to be treated. After his final treatment next week, Tanner will drive to Florida to scout spring training for the Milwaukee Brewers and watch his son, Bruce, the Pirates' bullpen coach.

"The treatments have been easy, I've had no problems at all, and I actually look forward to going each day because the staff there treats me so great," said Tanner, always known for his stay-positive attitude while he was a manager. "I have a good time down there every day, I really do."

Tanner was surprised to learn that he had prostate cancer because his health otherwise has been excellent. He had heart bypass surgery nearly 10 years ago, but has since gotten a clean bill of health each year.

"They told me, man, you're perfect, you've got the body of a 50-year-old, there's only one problem -- you've got prostate cancer," Tanner said. "I decided to get the treatments right away, and they really haven't bothered me at all. It's all in how you handle it mentally. They caught it in the early stages and they told me the recovery rate is between 90 and 95 percent.

"I lead a normal life. I get up every morning, cook breakfast for my wife -- she actually eats my cooking now -- and I drive down to Pittsburgh. Then I come back, get gas in the car, get groceries and lead a normal life."

Tanner's wife, Babs, had a heart attack and stroke in 1998 and is confined to a wheelchair. However, she will accompany her husband to spring training.

"We're really looking forward to it, especially to see Bruce in a major league uniform again," Tanner said. "That's going to be a real thrill."

Bruce Tanner is a former Florida State pitcher who had a short major league career with the Chicago White Sox cut short by an injury in the late 1980s. Bruce Tanner has since worked as a minor league pitching coach and will join new Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon's staff this season.

Chuck Tanner played for the Braves, Cubs, Indians and Angels from 1955-62, batting .261 with 21 homers and 105 RBIs. He began his managerial career in 1970 and had a 1,352-1,381 record in 19 seasons with the White Sox (1970-75), Oakland Athletics (1976), Pirates (1977-85) and Braves (1986-88).

Tanner's 1979 Pirates, led by Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, rallied from a 3-1 deficit to upset the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. Tanner managed five teams that finished second, including the 1977 Pirates, who won 96 games but still lost the NL East title to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney was ending his treatments for prostate cancer about the time Tanner began his. New York Yankees manager Joe Torre missed the first six weeks of the 1999 season while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.


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