After melanoma procedure, Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer urges fans to get checked, wear sunscreen

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NEW YORK — During his Hall of Fame pitching career, Jim Palmer wore a cap only on the days he pitched.

Palmer, 77, figures his time in the sun has caught up to him later in life. Earlier this week, Palmer, who spent the entirety of his 19-season career with the Orioles and now serves as a broadcaster for the team’s games on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, revealed on Twitter that he recently had melanoma, a form of skin cancer, near his right eye.


Palmer said he had “three little freckles” underneath his bottom eyelid, prompting surgery April 8 that left scars underneath and next to his eye. In the procedure, known as Mohs surgery, thin layers of skin are removed until no cancerous tissue remains.

The three-time World Series champion said he undergoes checks every three or so months, having also experienced skin cancer on his left shoulder and right arm over the past decade. He said he’s healthy now, but he wanted others to learn from his experience. Beyond his own scares, Palmer said he had a neighbor who had melanoma two decades ago, only for it to return and spread to his brain, prompting surgery.


“You don’t know how damaging the sun can be to your skin,” Palmer said. “… You’ve really got to be careful about the sun. I think most of us love the sun. It feels so good. But it’s a really difficult thing.

“Really, the moral of the story is you really should try to get your skin checked. If you do go out in the sun, you should wear sunscreen.”

Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, pictured in 2016, revealed on Twitter that he recently had melanoma, a form of skin cancer, near his right eye. He said he’s healthy now, but he wanted others to learn from his experience.

Palmer said he wore sunscreen throughout his career, though not typically on his forehead, as sweat would bring it into his eyes. He spent many of his teenage years in California and Arizona, which he noted were both sunny locales. As a young father, he enjoyed trips to the beach with his daughters.

Dr. Steven Wang, a dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon at California’s Hoag Hospital, told Palmer he has an upward trajectory for skin cancer, a byproduct of his time spent in the sun earlier in life. His freckles were discovered in January, which a specimen examination revealed as lentigo maligna, a slow-growing form of melanoma. After meeting with various doctors about performing the Mohs surgery to treat the cancer — including one whose suggested methodology included sewing Palmer’s eye shut for two weeks and having him apply a cream to it for three months — he decided to go with Dr. Samuel Peterson.

“He explained to me, ‘You want a new nose, you want your nose to look differently, you go to a plastic surgeon. You want somebody to make your face supposedly the way it was,’ — which is hard to do at my age, — ‘you come to me,’” Palmer said with a chuckle. “He was such a terrific guy.”

Part of the surgery involved a tying of the skin near Palmer’s eye to help keep it in place during the procedure, causing the scarring to the side of his eye and requiring internal stitching. After the cancer cells were cleared out, a MART-1 antigen stain was applied, “and the rest will be history,” Palmer said.

“You just have to really be careful,” Palmer said. “Melanoma’s nothing to mess around with.”