Baseball fans revisit veteran stadium theory after David West becomes latest Phillies player to die of brain cancer

Baseball fans believe Veterans Stadium, the former home of the Philadelphia Phillies, caused several players to suffer from brain cancer

Glioblastoma is one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of cancer.

According to National Brain Tumor Society, the two-year survival rate is 30% and the five-year survival rate is only 6.8%. Most people succumb to the aggressive disease within 12 to 18 months. It is a form of cancer that has been diagnosed for a century, with little progress on any type of treatment.

More than 10,000 people will die from glioblastoma each year, and as of 2003 that number includes six former Philadelphia Phillies.

Ken Brett was the first, in 2003. The following year, it was Tug McGraw and Johnny Oates. In 2007 John Vukovich. In 2017, Darren Daulton, who lived longer than most after being diagnosed in 2013. This weekend, David West became the sixth, just a year after Daulton’s foundation wished him luck in his fight against disease.

None lived to be 60.

According to USA today, “3.14% of the 159 Phillies players from 1973 (Brett’s only year on the team) through 1983 (Daulton’s first season with the club) were diagnosed with brain cancer.” That percentage did not include West, who was later diagnosed.

Several other former MLB players from the same era also died of brain cancer: Gary Carter, Bobby Murcer and Dan Quisenberry, as well as manager Dick Howser.

The rising number of deaths has been a topic of conversation among former baseball players and feels less like a coincidence with each diagnosis. 1980 World Series champion pitcher Dickie Noles is one of the many to say it’s no coincidence for years:

“Once it happened to Tug, we were all in shock. Then, once it happened to Vuk (Vukovich), the other ball players felt like ‘Wow’. Then when it happened in Daulton, every baseball player I saw talked about it.

“There seems to be some correlation with that and baseball. What was the vet built on? Was it something in the building? Asbestos?

larry bowawho has been with the Phillies for more than three decades as a player, coach, manager and with the front office, is also wary of their old ballpark:

“I know there were a lot of pipes that were exposed when we played there and we had AstroTurf.

I’m not trying to blame anyone. It’s just a little strange that this could happen to a team playing Vet.

Maybe it wasn’t the Vet built on a swamp, but the AstroTurf. The Kansas City Royals also used AstroTurf from 1973 to 1994, before switching to real grass. Quisenberry spent most of his career with them and was a teammate of Brett, who played for the Royals late in his career. Howser was their manager.

Bowa is gone on the file many times over the years, saying he was worried and wanted someone to investigate, so the hundreds of other players who spent time at the vet would have some clarity.

Unfortunately the vet was demolished in March 2004 and it is difficult to trace anything to a place that no longer exists. But while scientists have spent years saying there’s no official link between the chemicals in AstroTurf and cancer, new lawsuits and law changes suggest otherwise. A report starting in January of this year, noted that the California attorney general filed a lawsuit alleging that artificial turf manufacturers failed to warn customers of “potentially harmful toxins” in their products. Last summer the University of Amsterdam published findings that rubber granules release chemicals that can be harmful to humans and animals. Consequently, the The European Commission has imposed stricter limits out of eight compounds found in the material.

Fans think the vet is to blame. When news of West’s death broke, one tweeted, “At some point, it stops being a coincidence.” Another wrote, “without a doubt in my mind The Vet was a cluster of cancer.” Others have pointed out that John Kruk and Curt Schilling also developed cancer after playing at the vet, although both survived.

It doesn’t matter if something at the vet caused the cancer or if it was just a horrible coincidence, it’s a tragedy.

Sharon D. Cole