PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies legend Mike Schmidt threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday afternoon not as an ambassador for the franchise he once played for, but as a public figure combatting the disease that nearly took his life.
Schmidt is a key member of the SunSmart Philadelphia project -- an initiative sponsored by the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation, Independence Blue Cross, and the Philadelphia Phillies -- which aims to prevent skin cancer and increase early detection through education and preventative measures.
Announced at a news conference at City Hall on Thursday and debuted at Sunday's Melanoma Awareness Day at the ballpark, 12 complimentary sunscreen dispensers were installed around Citizens Bank Park, and a public service announcement was shown to all fans.
More dispensers will be found around the city on Kelly Drive, and outside Lloyd Hall and City Hall.
"Take it from me, someone who spent his life in the sun without sunscreen. I paid an enormous price," Schmidt said in the public service announcement.
Schmidt, 67, was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma four years ago but is now cancer free.
As part of the initiative, K-12 students will also receive sun-health and sun-safety education.
While the project is beginning in Philadelphia, the organizing parties intend to expand it to other cities across the country.
Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.