Orioles offering their support for former teammate David Hess

David Hess declared himself cancer free on Jan. 20, 2022, posting on social media that he was “cured” and cleared to resume baseball activities. He could pitch again. Immerse himself in one of his passions.

The disease doesn’t choose favorites. It came back to Hess after he appeared in eight minor league games last season in the Rays’ system. And it’s worse.

Hess has been open about his battle, sharing details and the strength of his faith in various posts. He used his Instagram account Friday to provide the latest update, and it’s heartbreaking.

In true Hess form, however, it’s also brave and inspirational.

Here is the text in full:

“The light shows brightest in the darkest times …

“The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind for us with this cancer journey that seems to never want to end. We found out that inside my tumor was a very rare and very aggressive type of cancer called angiosarcoma. Along with that discovery, lung nodules have popped up that we aren’t sure what to make of yet but could potentially be angiosarcoma or could be inflammatory and much less concerning. With that new information we know that I’m going to have to do a sternotomy to remove the tumor, but first we have to remove and biopsy the nodules to see what exactly is going on. Tuesday will be the first surgery to do this and then with those findings we will determine next steps, but we know for sure at this point I’ll have to do the sternotomy and more chemo at some point but don’t know the order yet.

“Through this we are determined to be the light in the darkness and not be snuffed out by the circumstances. I will fight like hell to do whatever is needed for a cancer free prognosis at some point. In the meantime, we have relied a ton on Psalm 18 to keep us rooted and keep us moving forward. Cancer is evil but we serve a big God who is working all this together for His glory!”

#fight4life #KeepGoing #heartofalion

The Orioles saw the message before last night’s game. The reaction was predictable.

Manager Brandon Hyde said his stomach dropped and his heart sank.

“David Hess is a wonderful, wonderful man, and a great family man,” Hyde said. “I know a lot of our guys in our clubhouse are still extremely close to him. He was a great teammate to the guys who were here when he was here. We’re thinking a lot about him.”

“Such a genuine person,” said outfielder Ryan McKenna. “As a teammate, that’s what you look for. As a player, he was a very fierce competitor. Everybody goes through the baseball lifestyle in a different way, but he was one of the guys that you wanted to be around just personally. Absolutely one of the good ones.”

McKenna mentioned other players who were teammates with Hess in the minors and Baltimore, like outfielders Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays and pitcher John Means. A tight group. If one hurts, they all hurt.

The bond is unbreakable. Hearts aren’t made that way.

“It’s very, very sad,” McKenna said. “I feel for him and his family. Something like that is never something that you wish upon anybody or want anybody to go through. It takes such a toll emotionally and physically for him, his whole family. Some of the guys were talking about it yesterday. You pray for him, and you hope to see him improve and everything go as well as it can.”

“Obviously, it’s a super unfortunate situation,” said first baseman Ryan Mountcastle. “Praying for the best. Life’s short, man. It’s crazy, it’s sad to hear, but hopefully he comes out on top. He’s a fighter. Obviously, wishing the best for him.”

“Just best wishes to him and his family,” said reliever Keegan Akin. “Truly a sad story, really. Great human being and just tough to see somebody like that go through this.”

Hess was the first client for agent Lee McVey, who's dealing with his own pain throughout the ordeal.

"We've really 'grown up' in professional baseball together," McVey wrote in a text message. "The agent business can be dirty and players are caught in the crossfire a lot and told a lot of things, but David's always trusted me and believed in me. I'm always grateful for that. Off the field, you could not have a better friend. He will go out of his way to help out any way he can. He's consistently checking up on me and my family, even with what he's going through.

"His hope and optimism on and off the field are infectious. He never blamed any of his issues or struggles on anybody else and is the first to lift a teammate up when they struggle. He's looked cancer in the face once and smiled, and I know he's doing it again."

The responses to Hess’ Instagram post keep coming, many with praying hand emojis and hearts.

Starter Tyler Wells wrote: “Praying for you guys! Sending a lot of love your way”

Former Orioles pitcher Josh Rogers was quick to comment with “Keep fighting brother! Tons of people behind you.”

From former Orioles reliever Paul Fry: “Love you brotha. Thinking of you guys always”

Former Orioles pitcher Wade LeBlanc wrote: “Keep fighting brother! There’s a testimony at work that’s growing with every step! Praying for you guys”

White Sox closer Liam Hendriks, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma last December, wrote: “You got this and we got you, mate”

Former MASN sideline reporter Sara Perlman, whose husband, first baseman Trey Mancini, beat colon cancer, wrote: “Praying for you and Devin! You got this!!! Sending lots of love”

I also left a comment but would rather share this:

You don’t necessarily make friends in the clubhouse when you work the beat, but you can build relationships. There isn’t a kinder, friendlier, more decent person in the world than David Hess. Those facts strike you immediately in your first conversation with him. And even before it, just the smile and welcoming expression as you approach him. And it happens again the second time, the third, the fourth.

A gentle soul who is battling a violent enemy. But if anyone is equipped to stand up to it, it’s Hess, with the support of his loving wife, family and friends.

“He’d do anything for anybody,” Akin said.

Now, it’s the club’s turn.

“This whole group is talking about him and thinking about him all the time,” said executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, “and the team is working on ways to lend our support to him.”

Mountcastle said the Orioles might start their own GoFundMe page or something similar, “and try to raise some money for him, maybe auction some stuff off, too, so the community can help.”

“Whatever we can to keep him going," Mountcastle said, "and help them out in any way.”

Here’s the link again to the GoFundMe that Means' wife Caroline helped create.

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