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Orioles' Moyer tips cap to boy with leukemia


You might have noticed the initials "G.C." on the back of Jamie Moyer's cap Monday night, when the Orioles left-hander was pitching the first six innings of his team's 6-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Camden Yards.

The initials belong to 3-year-old Gregory Chaya, a leukemia patient who underwent a bone marrow transplant July 9 at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Moyer said last night that he is dedicating his season to the Blakeslee, Pa., youngster.

"I really feel it's the least I can do," said Moyer, who visited the child yesterday. "He's fighting every day whether he knows it or not."

Moyer met the Chaya family last spring through a mutual friend, the Rev. Ray Deviney, a Catholic priest in Blakeslee. A few years ago, Deviney had introduced the Chayas' oldest son, Christopher, to Moyer while he was pitching for the Texas Rangers.

It was through Deviney that Moyer and his wife, Karen, learned about Gregory's condition. According to Margie Chaya, Gregory's mother, the youngest of her three sons was diagnosed April 2 with leukemia AML, a form of cancer that usually strikes adults. After three chemotherapy treatments, doctors told the Chayas that Gregory was in remission.

"The next day, it was found that Christopher was a perfect donor match for a transplant," Margie Chaya said last night from Johns Hopkins, where she is staying with her son.

Moyer, a Pennsylvania native who now makes his off-season home in Illinois, called the family a couple of weeks ago and visited the child over the weekend. According to the boy's mother, "Gregory was very, very sick at the time. He wasn't doing too well. But he's doing a lot better now. Jamie and Karen have really been wonderful."

Said Moyer: "It's just amazing to see how positive they are about the whole thing. The thing that hit me was that this could be me, or anyone else who has young kids. I really cherish the health of my children."

Moyer and his wife have two sons, ages 2 and 2 1/2 months, and he also serves as a Big Brother to a 14-year-old from Texas.

He didn't tell anyone about his plans to put Gregory's initials on his hat -- not manager Johnny Oates, not even his wife.

"He told me about it after the ballgame," Karen Moyer said last night. "Jamie's usually not like this. This kid has really done something for Jamie."

Said Moyer: "You see these kids. You feel so sorry for them. Here these kids are so innocent, so young, they've got their whole lives ahead of them and they've got to fight to stay alive."

Margie Chaya, who along with her husband, Robert, runs a family cement-mixing business back home, said Gregory is showing signs of winning that fight.

Christopher, her oldest son, was released from the hospital July 11.

"He went to basketball camp the next day at Villanova," she said.

"The doctors say that they now have a story to tell transplant donors."

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