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DiMaggio Speaks First Words

In the first words he's been able to speak since his serious setback after lung cancer surgery, Joe DiMaggio delivered a spirited message to his doctors.

"I want to get the hell out of here and go home," the 84-year-old Hall of Famer said Thursday after his doctor temporarily adjusted the breathing tube in his throat.

The remark drew a smile from Dr. Earl Barron, a cardiologist who heads a team of doctors treating DiMaggio at Memorial Regional Hospital.

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DiMaggio continued to show improvement from his latest lung infection, which developed Friday, Barron said.

"Thing are looking up today, but who knows what will happen tomorrow," Barron told The Associated Press, adding that the former New York Yankees center fielder had no fever and his white blood cell count was normal.

DiMaggio, who made his last public appearance at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 27, underwent surgery Oct. 14 to remove a cancerous tumor from his right lung.

A series of setbacks have kept him in the intensive care unit since the operation.

DiMaggio, unable to speak because of the tube in his trachea, had been indicating with hand gestures for days that he wanted to talk, Barron said.

The doctor agreed, and had the tube capped temporarily, allowing DiMaggio to make his comment.

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