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Whitey Ford Again Battling Cancer

NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford, who underwent cancer surgery 5 1/2 years ago, is being treated in Florida for an undisclosed form of the disease, The New York Times reported today.

The 71-year-old former New York Yankees star declined to identify the cancer.

``We're the type of family that tries to keep these things to ourselves,'' he said.

Reached by telephone at his winter home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Ford told The Associated Press, ``I don't want to talk about it.'' He said he was in the process of asking the Yankees to issue a statement.

Ford underwent almost eight hours of surgery in December 1994 to remove a cancerous tumor behind one ear. At the time, he said it looked as if the cancer was caught before it had spread.

Ford, who won the Cy Young award in 1961 and holds World Series records of 10 career victories and 33 consecutive shutout innings, missed baseball spring training this year for the first time in 49 years.

When first asked by the newspaper about his absence, Ford attributed it to ``a little medical problem.'' He did not acknowledge the problem was cancer until after further conversation. He said his prescribed treatment, which he did not describe, has been completed.

Ford's .690 career winning percentage in the 1950s and '60s was the best in the 20th century. He finished 236-106.

He is among several current and former Yankees who have battled cancer.

Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre began chemotherapy earlier this month for bone marrow cancer. He was diagnosed with the disease a year ago during spring training. During his playing days, Stottlemyre was a five-time All-Star as a pitcher during 10-plus seasons with the Yankees.

Yankees manager Joe Torre missed the first six weeks last season while being treated for prostate cancer. In October 1998, Darryl Strawberry had surgery for colon cancer. Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle died in 1995 of liver cancer. Last year, fellow great Joe DiMaggio died of lung cancer.
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