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Catfish Hunter Hospitalized


Hall of Fame pitcher Catfish Hunter is in Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore for tests after experiencing difficulties with motor skills.

There are fears hunter may have Lou Gehrig's disease, amytrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive, ultimately fatal neurological condition, the Daily News reported Saturday. Gehrig died from the disease in 1941 at age 39.

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"I've got no strength in my arms and my hands," Hunter told the News. "I can't do the routine things like button a shirt anymore."

Hunter has been unable to even toss a baseball.

Hunter won 224 games in a 15-year career and was voted the Cy Young Award in 1974.

"I first started to notice something was wrong last March when I was hunting," Hunter said. "I started having trouble doing things with my right arm."

The 52-year-old Hunter saw doctors all summer with no conclusive diagnosis. Asked if doctors thought he might have ALS, he said, "Some say, `Yes,' and some say, `No.' That's why I'm going to Johns Hopkins now. They say it's the best place and I've got to find out what's wrong."

The News reported that Hunter has been forced to cancel some autograph show appearances because of difficulty writing. Two weeks ago, he missed a 20th reunion of the 1978 Yankees at Atlantic City and ex-teammates said they heard he was seriously ill.

Hunter was a 20-game winner five straight years and pitched a perfect game for the Oakland A's in 1968. He was baseball's first high-priced free agent, signing a five-year, $3.75 million contract with the New York Yankees on New Year's Eve, 1974. The next year, he led the American League with 23 victories -- his fifth straight 20-win season -- 30 complete games and 328 innings pitched.

In 1978, Hunter learned that he has diabetes and became a leading spokesman to raise funds to fight the disease, which apparently is not related to the loss of motor skills. He retired following the 1979 season and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987.

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