Bobby Murcer Remembered

Bobby Murcer as New York Yankees broadcaster
Bobby Murcer as New York Yankees broadcaster

Like so many people who knew Bobby Murcer or were fans of his, I was so sad to hear the news that he had passed away. I didn't know the man. And I only have vague childhood memories of then-Dodger Stadium announcer John Ramsey saying, "Bobby Murcer", when the "Yankee for Life" was playing for the Giants and Cubs at Chavez Ravine.

I only spent about an hour with Murcer and his lovely wife Kay when I interviewed them last May at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Enough time, though, to know from first impressions that everything people are saying about him is true.

On the afternoon the interview took place Murcer was in good spirits. It was his 62nd birthday and his book was coming out that day. I was told he had shingles, but he was feeling upbeat after doctors told him the scan done the day before showed that his brain tumor had not grown back. He and his wife shed no tears during the approximately 45-minute chat. In fact, they laughed a lot. They repeatedly talked about their strong faith in God. (The Murcers found out about the brain tumor after they left church on Christmas Eve morning in 2006.) And Mr. Murcer explained how his illness had made him less self-involved--that's the term he and his wife used--and made him want to stop and smell the roses.

We did the interview with Murcer for a story that aired during our coverage from the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago last month to coincide with the release of new results from the clinical trial of a unique brain cancer treatment. Murcer was a participant in the study which showed that patients who got the therapeutic vaccine lived much longer than those who get traditional care--surgery, chemo and radiation.

The drug, which is owned by Avant Immunotherapeutics and Pfizer, is being tested in a larger, late-stage clinical trial. There's been some talk that Senator Ted Kennedy could possibly become a participant. But that depends on whether he had the specific type of tumor for which the vaccine is designed. And, at least publicly, doctors and the Kennedy family aren't saying if he does.

Murcer told me during the interview that he entered the study not just in the hope of helping himself, but also with altruistic motives. This is one of the quotes that didn't make it into our piece: "I hope that being in the trial will help somebody that's coming behind me, " Mr. Murcer said. "It's what you do on this earth is help other people. I mean, basically we're here to help other people. That's the way we feel. I think that's what God wants us to do."


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