Longtime Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster and former MLB player Buck Martinez has been diagnosed with cancer and will begin treatment in the upcoming weeks, he announced via a statement by Sportsnet on Twitter. Sunday’s Blue Jays game against the Oakland Athletics will be his last game on the call for “a little while,” he says.
“Today will be my last game in the booth for a little while as I have recently been diagnosed with cancer and will begin the process for treatment in the coming weeks. I’ve been so honoured and privileged to have the support of Blue Jays fans, colleagues, staff and players since I arrived here in 1981, and that continued support through this next challenge means the world to me,” says Martinez in the statement.
“I’m grateful for a tremendous medical team, who has given me great optimism that I will come through this with flying colours. I hope to rejoin my Sportsnet teammates for the stretch run later this season, but in the meantime I will be watching from the sidelines as I fight the good fight.
“I thank everyone in advance for respecting my and my family’s privacy during this time.”
Martinez, who’s 73 years old, played 17 MLB seasons as a catcher, beginning with the Kansas City Royals in 1969. The Redding, Calif., native went on to play threes seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers from 1978 to 1980, before he was traded to the Blue Jays in 1981.
Martinez then played the final six seasons of his MLB career with the Blue Jays, twice hitting 10 home runs, and retired in 1986.
“Buck Martinez is a dear member of our Blue Jays family and a fixture in the Canadian baseball community,” said Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro in a statement released by the team.
“As he steps away from the broadcast booth to receive treatment, we have no doubt Buck will face the road ahead with courage, determination, and his signature positivity. On behalf of the entire Toronto Blue Jays organization and fans across the country, we want to extend our well wishes to Buck and his family. We look forward to seeing him back in the ballpark and on the broadcast again soon.”
Once he retired from MLB, Martinez began a career as a broadcaster for several years before returning to the Blue Jays in 2000 as a manager for two seasons.
In 2010, he joined Sportsnet as a broadcaster for the Blue Jays, where he has continued to work as both a play-by-play announcer and colour commentator.
“Everybody has been so supportive,” said Martinez prior to the first pitch on Sunday. “I got a wonderful crew to work with here, folks, and I’m gonna go away for while, I’ve got cancer and I have to address that obviously.
“I came here in 1981, thought I’d be here for a year or two and here we are, it’s 2022. But my wife Arlene has been very supportive and we’re all positive and we feel very confident we’ll be back here for the pennant race.”
Upon announcing his cancer diagnosis, he received an outpouring of support from colleagues and the sports community at large.
“Buck is like family to all of us here, as he actually may be to you based on how many times you hear his voice,” said Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell, who recently began treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, on Blue Jays Central before Sunday’s game.