LANCASTER — Mike Schmidt said his hair is falling out. It's not supposed to, but it is.
"I don't touch my head," the former Philadelphia Phillies great said Wednesday.
Other than that problem, which wasn't noticeable, Schmidt said his recovery from an advanced form of skin cancer is going well.
"I feel fine," he said. "I feel great."
He looked fine, too — trim, relaxed and laughing during a session with the media prior to being the keynote speaker for a benefit luncheon at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square.
Schmidt, 64, was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma last August after a mole on his back was biopsied. He since has undergone "several" operations, radiation and chemotherapy. He said he's in the third protocol of three different immune system boost treatments and is about a third of the way through the 12-week process.
"The last six months have been quite different in my life," Schmidt said. "The greatest line I heard was by my pastor: ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.'
"There are two sets of plans in life, our plans and God's plans for us. I found in the last six months that His plans trumped my plans."
Not that the Hall of Fame third baseman was complaining. He wasn't. He knows in some respects the discovery of his cancer was a fortunate break, found almost by accident when he went to his doctor's office to have something on his hand checked.
"I just happened to duck in there without an appointment to see if the guy could take me," Schmidt said. "He wasn't there, but his partner was. He said, ‘I'll take a look; I'll take a look at your whole body while you're here.'
"I could very well still have it undiscovered."
Instead, he's far along in his treatment and has become an unofficial spokesperson for the importance of getting one's skin checked. It was a message he began delivering when he revealed he had melanoma last month during a stop at Phillies spring training and continued to deliver today during the "Thanks for Giving" benefit luncheon.
The event, which was postponed because of Schmidt's health in November, was hosted by The Janus School and the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants South Central Chapter.
Schmidt wasn't quite ready to go public with his diagnosis in January, when the Phillies announced he was dealing with a health issue and would be unable to be a guest instructor at spring training.
"We were kind of stuck with how to treat it, not the skin problem, but whether or not to just come out and say this is what's happening or whether to just give a vague description," Schmidt said. "I don't know whether we did the right thing or not."
Schmidt now has another platform from which he can talk about skin cancer prevention and awareness if he wishes. He has joined the Phillies television broadcast crew for the team's 13 Sunday home games, something dubbed "Sundays with Schmidt."
Schmidt, who had been an analyst for the Phillies on PRISM in 1990, said he was asked about joining the broadcast team full time after Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews were let go.
"I said absolutely not," he said. "That's traveling with the team again. You're definitely going back to work if you do that."
Dave Buck, the Phillies senior vice president, marketing and advertising sales, then came up with the idea for Sunday home games, which Schmidt said sounded "exciting."
"We had a lot of fun with the first one," Schmidt said. "We had a lot of positive feedback. It was a little different broadcast, more lighthearted, not structured as much. It's sort of say what we want to say when we want to say it. We don't have to talk about a base hit or a stolen base or an error or anything. If you're telling a good story, that's all that matters."
And now Schmidt's own story has another chapter, one that doesn't deal with 548 career home runs, three NL MVP awards or 10 Gold Gloves awards, but with real life.
"I can think of diagnoses that could be a hell of a lot worse," he said. "Cancer is a scary thing. Mine's skin cancer.
"I have to have scans every three months. Who knows what and when and where something's going to come up. That stuff travels around you microscopically. Until you have a year's worth of scans that show no residue and they tell you you're cancer free, all you can do is treat it."
Schmidt, taking nothing for granted, knocked on wood at least twice while talking about his cancer.
"I haven't sat — maybe I should have — but I haven't sat around and daydreamed at all about dying any time soon," he said. "I'm planning on living to be 100, actually."