Cancer survivor Tyler Austin thriving with RailRiders

Source: Times Leader / Paul Sokoloski – Click for more information on Paul

The words still weigh on Tyler Austin, as if they were spoken yesterday.

He was a high school senior with a bright baseball future ahead of him when he noticed an abnormal lump.

He went to get checked. And he was told he had testicular cancer.

”It was tough going for me,” Austin said. “It’s shocking, to get told that news as a 17-year-old. I try not to think about it.

“It was a tough time in my life.”

These days, he lets his bat do most of the talking.

As a rising star in the New York Yankees organization, Austin already has 12 homers, 19 doubles, 41 RBI and leads the team with a .312 batting average during his second Triple-A season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

It’s a season that may not have happened if Austin had ignored the warning signs, as testicular cancer can be life-threatening.

It can also be overcome.

Another former Yankees top prospect, Mike Lowell, went on to have a long and successful major league career with the Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins and professional cyclist Lance Armstrong — despite later having his reputation tarnished by admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs — raised cancer awareness around the globe by winning seven Tour de France titles.

Austin just wanted a shot to make a mark in the minor leagues.

Regarded as one of the top players in his native Georgia, Austin was diagnosed with cancer just before the 2010 Amateur Baseball Draft.

But the way he saw it, that was just one strike against him.

Austin underwent successful surgery to remove the tumor and played in a high school showcase game just a week after undergoing the surgery.

The Yankees drafted Austin in the 13th round and he’s remained cancer-free ever since.

But the ordeal helped mold him.

Austin is quick to sign autographs and chat up fans while quickly becoming one of the team’s most popular players.


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