An emotional Scott Palmer, the Phillies' director of public affairs, spoke eloquently of Gary Papa, his former colleague at WPVI-TV, who died yesterday following a five-year ordeal with prostate cancer.

It was Palmer who guided Papa's wheelchair at Citizens Bank Park when the station's longtime sports director attended a funeral service for broadcaster Harry Kalas in April.

"Even when you're prepared for something like this that you know is eventually going to come, it's just so hard to accept," Palmer said. "He was so courageous, so brave. For him to go on the air in an appearance-based business when a lot [of others] would not have gone on the air . . . because it was so important to him to deliver the sports to the greatest fans in the world - Philadelphia sports fans - nothing was going to stop him from doing that.

"He was just so full of energy, so full of life. He was here for Harry's tribute. He was telling his sons why it was so important for them to be there."

Palmer noted that it was ironic Papa died two days before tomorrow's annual Run 4 Your Life, a Father's Day benefit on the Parkway for the Foundation for Breast and Prostate Health.

"Gary became the face of prostate cancer here," Palmer said.

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or