Former major league pitcher Foster dies of cancer

CHICAGO -- Kevin Foster, who was drafted as an infielder before becoming a pitcher and spending seven years in the majors and pitching mostly with the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs, has died of cancer. He was 39.

He died in an Oklahoma City hospital Saturday after a six-month bout with renal cell carcinoma, brother Mark Foster said.

"He loved baseball, he loved people and people loved him," Mark Foster said. "He was a happy person who got along with everybody, and we will miss him."

Foster was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 29th round of the 1987 amateur draft. He converted to pitching three years later. The right-hander was traded to Seattle and then Philadelphia, where he made his first major league appearance in 1993.

"As a low [draft] pick, he was a tough competitor and an overachiever to make it into the majors, and he pitched well for us at times,'' said Ed Lynch, the Cubs' general manager during Foster's time with the team, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. ''As a person, he was also a very personable, popular, articulate individual who stuck up for his teammates.''

Foster spent five seasons with the Cubs after being acquired from Philadelphia for Shawn Boskie in 1994, going 32-28 from 1994 to '98. His best season with the Cubs came in 1995, when he was 12-11 with a 4.51 ERA. He struck out 146 batters that season, but also led the National League in home runs allowed with 32.

"He was very popular with his teammates, the organization and fans, and he will be tremendously missed," the Cubs said in a statement.

Foster battled arm injuries after 1997 and made a brief comeback with Texas in 2001. He finished with a career record of 32-30 in 100 appearances and a career 4.38 ERA.

Foster, who was raised in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, was working as a truck driver at the time of his death.

In addition to his brother, Foster is survived by four sons and three sisters. He was divorced and engaged to be married.

Funeral arrangements were pending Tuesday.