Remy is battling cancer complications

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / May 7, 2009
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Before last night's game against the Cleveland Indians, Red Sox play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo stood alone in NESN's broadcast booth at Fenway Park. Orsillo began the telecast with stunning news about the protracted absence of his broadcast partner, Jerry Remy.

"Many have asked about my partner and friend, Jerry Remy, and tonight we learn the news," Orsillo began. "Jerry will take a leave of absence for an indefinite period to recover from cancer surgery."

Orsillo read a statement from the ailing Remy, 56, who had missed six games already. A former smoker, the color commentator underwent surgery for lung cancer late last year. Remy had hoped to return for the start of spring training but was forced to miss most of it when he developed an infection that led to pneumonia.

"I want to focus on completing my recovery so that I can return to work without distractions or disruptions," Remy said in his statement. "I hope that disclosing my bout with cancer will reinforce the dangers of smoking to every member of Red Sox Nation, especially children."

Remy, the Somerset native who spent 10 seasons in the major leagues, including seven with the Red Sox (1978-84), has become a fixture in NESN's broadcast booth after coming aboard in 1988, when he was first paired with Ned Martin and then Sean McDonough.

"As part of the NESN family, we want Jerry to concentrate on his health and getting well," said NESN president Sean McGrail. "When he's ready to return, his place in the booth will be waiting for him. In the meantime, we ask everyone to respect Jerry's privacy so that he can focus fully on his recovery."

A fan favorite, Remy has been teamed with Orsillo since 2001, winning four Emmy Awards and being named Massachusetts Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association in 2004.

Remy was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2006 but holds a special place in the hearts of Red Sox Nation, not only as its colorful color commentator but as its "president."

"Jerry is beloved, and on behalf of everyone in Red Sox Nation, I want him to know that he is in our thoughts," said Sox chairman Tom Werner. "We will sorely miss him in the broadcast, but the most important thing is that he takes all the time he needs to recover."

Remy experienced a setback in his recovery when he arrived in St. Petersburg, Fla., last Thursday for a four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays after working a three-game series in Cleveland April 27-29. He did not work during the Tampa Bay series, replaced in the booth by, among others, Buck Martinez of TBS.

Dennis Eckersley joined Orsillo in NESN's booth for last night's game and is expected to serve in that capacity for the remainder of this homestand.

NESN studio analyst Dave Roberts, the former Sox outfielder, will travel with the team and provide color commentary during the West Coast trip to Los Angeles and Seattle May 12-17.

"To my booth partner and friend, Jerry Remy," Orsillo said in his pregame remarks, "we hope you get back to right where you're supposed to be - right here in the NESN Red Sox booth."

Michael Vega can be reached at

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