Philadelphia Tug McGraw won't let his illness affect his sense of humor.
His thoughts slowed because of medication, McGraw reeled off one-liners in typical style Thursday as he talked about his battle with brain cancer for the first time.
"It was a lovefest," McGraw said after walking into the Philadelphia Phillies' clubhouse. "Everybody came over to me. There were a lot of hugs and some kisses, probably from the switch hitters."
A former star reliever with the Phillies and the New York Mets, McGraw was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor shortly after he was hospitalized March 12 in Clearwater, Fla.
McGraw, 58, was working as a special spring training instructor for the Phillies when he became ill. He knew something wasn't right when he went to the stadium on an off day.
"They told me I had three weeks to live," McGraw said. "I'm still alive, so the three-week thing didn't work."
Joined by his 7-year-old son, Matthew, and wearing a baseball cap that bore his trademark slogan, "Ya Gotta Believe," McGraw became emotional a few times during a news conference at Veterans Stadium before the Phillies played the Mets.
"I'm not fearful. I have confidence," said McGraw, best known for his zany antics during his 20-year career in the major leagues.
McGraw underwent six hours of surgery to remove a brain tumor nine days after he was hospitalized. He completed one month of radiation and chemotherapy, and is still undergoing chemotherapy one week a month.
"The prognosis is very good," said McGraw, who lost his long, blonde hair because of the chemo.
McGraw compiled a 96-92 record with a 3.14 ERA and 180 saves in his career with the Mets and Phillies. The left-hander pitched for the Mets from 1965-74 and the Phillies from 1975-84.
McGraw popularized the phrase "Ya Gotta Believe!" with the Mets during their improbable pennant run in 1973, and later closed out the Phillies' only World Series championship in 1980.
A fan favorite, McGraw is best remembered by Phillies fans for striking out Kansas City's Willie Wilson to end Game 6 of the 1980 World Series and win the title.