Tug McGraw. Darren Daulton. John Vukovich. John Oates. Ken Brett. David West. Six names of former MLB players and members of the Philadelphia Phillies. All of them passed away due to aggressive brain cancer glioblastoma. All of them died before the age of 60.
Many were puzzled as to why a group of otherwise formerly healthy players died of a serious disease affecting 13,000 people a year. After an investigation conducted by the Philadelphia Inquirer, an answer emerged that might be the cause of these unfortunate deaths. It also proved that these aren’t the only illnesses that emerged from the use of one massive part of Veterans Stadium: the turf.
The report says that the specific type of turf used at Veterans Stadium from 1971 to 2001. After that, they switched to a new type of turf called NexTurf. But the original turf that was used for 30 years was sold to the public in small sealed bags. After West’s death in 2022, four of those were purchased by the Inquirer and tested.
According to results, over 16 types of harmful chemicals were found in those samples, many ones which do not break down in the body. These are also the types of chemicals that have been found to cause kidney and testicular issues. The six men out of the 532 who played their careers at Veterans Stadium who developed brain cancer did so at three times more than average men.
As it is rarer brain cancer, the likelihood that more Phillies will develop the disease isn’t gone but are low.
Veterans Stadium was demolished in March 2004, and Citizens Bank Park was opened weeks later in April.