When a number of ex-Phillies players were diagnosed with brain cancer, their teammates began to wonder.
Pitcher Ken Brett died in 2003. Tug McGraw, a star reliever, and catcher Johnny Oates lost their battles in 2004. Third baseman and longtime coach John Vukovich died in 2007. Now, Darren Daulton, the star catcher from the Phillies 1993 World Series team, is in a fight for his life battling glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer. He was diagnosed in early June.
“It’s very scary,” said Larry Bowa, who spent 24 seasons with the Phillies as a player, coach and manager. “I know cancer is a big illness in our society, but to have that many [Phillies] guys get brain cancer …”
It seems that some former players have suggested a connection between the diagnoses and Veterans Stadium, the former home to the Phillies before it was demolished in 2004, according to USA Today.
“Once it happened to Tug, we were all in shock,” said Dickie Noles, a pitcher on the Phillies’ 1980 World Series team. “Then once it happened to [Vukovich] the other ballplayers kind of had the feeling like, ‘Wow.’ Then when it happened to Daulton, every ballplayer I’ve seen talked about it.
“There seems to be some correlation with this and baseball. What was the Vet built on? Was it something in the building? The asbestos?”
“I know there were a lot of pipes that were exposed when we played there and we had AstroTurf,” Bowa added. ”I’m not trying to blame anybody. It’s just sort of strange that that can happen to one team playing at the Vet.”
Despite the concern surrounding the instances, the Pennsylvania Department of Health does not plan to pursue an investigation into the matter, instead chalking it up to a strange coincidence.
Aside from the five Phillies players, just four other major leaguers were diagnosed with brain cancers and died over the last 15 years. The Philadelphia Eagles also played at Veterans Stadium for decades and have never had a brain cancer victim.
Photo via Facebook/Darren Daulton