Larry Bowa is stunned to see that another former Phillies player, Darren Daulton is struggling with brain cancer. There is a list of sportsmen who have died of brain cancer uptill now, that includes Pitcher Ken Brett (died 2003); Tug McGraw, who was a star reliever and 1980 World Series Hero; Johnny Oates (died 2004) and John Vukovich, who was a coach and a third baseman (died 2007).
Daulton (age 51), who was a star catcher on the Phillies’ 1993 World Series Team, is recently diagnosed with an extreme case of brain cancer, glioblastoma. Bowa talked about how scary the condition was and he was saddened by the fact that so many Phillies players had been the victims of brain cancer.Numerous people have begun to doubt the connection between the Veterans Stadium, the multipurpose sports venue and brain cancer. A pitcher on the Phillies’ 1980 World Series team, Dickie Notes said, ” We couldn’t believe the tough luck Tug had when we heard about him. But then when the same thing happened to Vukovich, everyone was like, ‘Wow’. Now, when Daulton has the same illness, all ballplayers started saying, ‘There seems to be some correlation with this and baseball. What was the Vet built on? Was it something in the building? The asbestos?’
These doubts have sprung up in current discussions between Bowa and, Dave Hollins, Greg Luzinski and Marty Bystrom. Bowa, an in-studio analyst for the MLB Network, expresses his concern by saying, “I know there were a lot of pipes that were exposed when we played there and we had Astro Turf. I should not say this, but I find it a bit out of the ordinary that it’s happening to only one team playing at the Vet.”
It is unusual that 5 ballplayers have become victims to brain cancer in such a short time. It has been discovered that 0.7% males have the probability of getting a brain tumor, while with women it is 0.6%. From 1973 to 1983, 3.14% of Phillies’ players have been affected by brain cancer.
Dr. Richard Osenbach, who is a brain surgeon in Fayetteville, N.C thinks that this is peculiar, but could be coincidental too. No evidence has been found linking brain cancer among the Phillies’ player with anything but mere bad luck. “There is not a known cause for brain tumors,” according to Deneen Hesser, chief mission officer for the American Brain Tumor Association.
Over the last 15 years, four major leaguers had developed brain cancers; Gary Carter, Dan Quisenberry, Bobby Murcer and Dick Howser. They played games at the Vet along with several others who do not experience the same issue. The Eagles are also a part of those teams who played at the Vet for ages, but did not get brain cancer.
A brain tumor epidemiologist at Cleveland, Jill Barnholtz-Sloan says, “Can I say that it was accidental, for sure? I don’t think so. All of them did play for the Phillies, but in different years. For example, one played for a year and the other for 10 years. So we can’t say, ‘ Oh, it’s because they played for the Phillies that this has happened.’
When a bunch of employees working at an Illinois plant developed brain tumors and a few of them died because of it, Amoco being a merger between an American oil company and British Petroleum investigated this case. But the investigation did not offer any sort of proof. “I can tell you that I know of multiple other clusters of people living in the same area who have been diagnosed with the same cancer that have been studied,” Barnholtz-Sloan said. “They’ve been investigated by state health and local health departments and, in most, they’ve not been able to find anything.
No case study is being conducted on the Phillies’ brain cancer issue, however Bowa really wants someone to do something about it. If an investigation is conducted by Barnhotlz-Sloan, she would be analyzing each Phillies’ case in depth and comparing it with national figures.
Patients suffering from glioblastoma have an average survival time of 12 to 14 months, as per American Brain Tumor Association. Hesser states, “It is a complicated version of tumor, but we are able to come up with some biological differences in these tumors. There can be some long-term survivors.”
Noles, a former Phillies player says, “Life is difficult and there’s bumps in the road all over the place. Cancer happens to be one of the major ones. When you hear about it, it hits home. I think we should be doing what we can when we’re healthy to live our life.”
Bowa happened to be connected with all five Phillies suffering from cancer. He was Daulton’s coach and the rest of the players’ team mate. He is looking for answers and is amazed that no documentation has been done so far regarding the five cancer-stricken Phillies.