Tracys grateful to celebrate Father's Day
Manager follows dad's progress in fight with prostate cancer
FAIRFIELD, Ohio -- For the better part of the last 18 months, Jim Leo Tracy had been faithfully arriving at the Mercy South cancer unit about a half an hour due west of Cincinnati each Tuesday morning to undergo his chemotherapy treatments.The 78-year-old, whose son Jim Edwin is manager of the Dodgers, would roll up his sleeve so a nurse technician could inject the fluid, which is poison to some, but a last gasp at life for others. Jim Leo was pretty stoic about it. He'd bring a book or a magazine and while away the hours as the liquid coursed into his ravaged body drip by drip. "You look around and see all the faces, the kids, especially," he said during an interview last month, his voice hoarse and barely above a whisper. "And you realize there are people who have it a lot worse than you. So I'm just grateful for every day. Grateful, that's the best word for it." For those 18 months, Jimmy the elder has been battling the recurrence of prostate cancer, which this time has invaded his bones like the plague. In early May, he was able to make it to Great American Ball Park for the first two games of a three-game series pitting his son's Dodgers against the hometown Reds. It was a chance for quality time between a father and a son.
This Father's Day is a time when people all around Major League Baseball pause to remember and celebrate that bond between generations, that person you looked up to as a boy or girl. He was that person who might have taught you the game itself, along with so many other life lessons. And so many people right now probably can relate to the story of the Tracys, who appreciate the times gone by and the time left.Just before that Dodgers-Reds series, because of a fortuitous one-day break in the relentless baseball schedule, Jimmy the elder had pre-Mother's Day dinner with his wife, Virginia, and their three sons, including Jimmy the younger. It was the first time the family had been together for that occasion in decades. Jimmy the elder sat in the stands with family members and an old friend on Friday night. He visited the clubhouse on Saturday and watched as another old friend, Dodger scout Carl Loewenstine, struggled to even sit in a chair. Like Jim Leo, Loewenstine is also beset by cancer that has invaded his bones. He had gone to the Cleveland Clinic only weeks earlier and received the bad news. "I need to talk to him," Jim Leo said. "Anything I can do, any advice I can give him, I will." But his own illness began to turn darker that week. He was too sick on Sunday to make it to the ballpark and on that following Tuesday, during his weekly clinic run, the nurse technician missed his vein when the needle was plunged into his arm for the chemo treatment, Jimmy the younger said. That night, he awoke with the arm swollen twice its size. The doctors cancelled his chemo for a month to let the arm heal, never a good sign as cancer is spreading. His PSA, the blood test that defines prostate cancer, was above 600 during the treatments. Without the treatments, it has soared beyond 700. A PSA level in a normal male is supposed to be between .4 and .5. When it rises beyond that, doctors get worried. Tracy's father is off the charts. As Father's Day approaches, the clock is ticking. "I've had some calls from my mother telling me my dad has had some pretty bad days," Tracy said recently. "The family is aware of it. They all know what's going on."
|"My days are full. There's a lot for me to live for and look forward to."|
|-- Jim Leo Tracy|
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.