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06/19/09 10:00 AM ET

Prostate cancer is Lachemann's cause

Rockies' front office figure accomplished much despite illness

DENVER -- Rockies front office special assistant Marcel Lachemann's resume includes a College World Series title as a player for USC in 1961, 70 games in the Majors pitching for the Athletics, and a long career of coaching that included managing the Angels (1994-96) and serving as Rockies pitching coach in 2000.

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More recent items stand out, however. For example, Lachemann has been the pitching coach for Team USA since 1999. Since 2005, Lachemann has worked for Team USA in a regional Olympic qualifying tournament in 2005, the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and both World Baseball Classics, 2006 and 2009.

The latter accomplishments are special in their own right. But what's also notable is Lachemann was around to receive the gold medal in the qualifying tournament or the bronze in Beijing.

Lachemann, who turned 69 on June 13, was diagnosed with prostate cancer during Spring Training in 2002 during a physical given by the Rockies. But ask Lachemann, and he doesn't necessarily call being properly diagnosed a highlight. It's something any man entering middle age can achieve.

"I don't think anyone should die just because he wasn't checked," Lachemann said. "I did through the Rockies, but it's a simple test. Anyone can call his doctor and ask for it."

Lachemann underwent surgery not long after his diagnosis. He said he had wonderful doctors at USC and UCLA.

"I'm a USC guy, but the doctors there told me it was best to have the surgery over at UCLA," Lachemann said. "I kind of got a laugh out of that. The people at UCLA were great."

Illness, surgery and recovery can feel lonely, but Lachemann said going through it opened a new world.

Lachemann signed on quickly when New York sportscaster Ed Randall, who has worked for MLB.com and has a baseball program on WFAN-AM and Sirius XM Radio's MLB Home Plate channel, asked him to join the advisory board of his Prostate Cancer Foundation. Lachemann also joined with Michael Milken's Prostate Cancer Foundation through Dave Perron, a former Athletics media relations director who has been active with MLB's efforts to stamp out the disease.

But even outside the efforts for fundraising and research, Lachemann tapped into a new group of friends.

"It turns out it's a huge fraternity -- there are a lot of people," Lachemann said. "I got pretty good support from some people that had had it before. So there have been guys that have told me that they had prostate cancer and were going to have it done. But I just call and give them a feel of what it's going to be like and what to expect. It's a huge fraternity and has a lot of people that are very supportive."

These days, prostate cancer awareness is a family project for Lachemann.

"I've got two boys that are actually 44 and 41," Lachemann said. "I told them, 'I hate to tell you this, but you need to start checking at least when you're 50,' and I even suggested 45, just because of the fact that it's there. My dad died with it, not of it. He was 95. When they diagnose usually people in their 70s and 80s, they don't even do anything. For whatever reason, it's not as aggressive. At that stage, they tell people, 'You're gong to die with it, not of it.'

"Hopefully the awareness helps. There's no reason for anyone to die of it when they don't have to."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.