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Cancer and the Kansas City Royals

May 19, 2011, 9:13 AM EDT

Cancer cells

Bob Tufts is a longtime reader of this blog (and my old blog), as well as an email and Twitter correspondent and fellow Primate over at Baseball Think Factory.

He also happens to be a former major leaguer who played for the Kansas City Royals.

He also has been undergoing cancer treatment for a long while and, in light of the news about Harmon Killebrew and his former teammate Paul Splittoroff, is wondering what the hell the deal is with former Royals and cancer:

This news hits me pretty hard and very close to home. Paul was a teammate in 1982 and 1983 in Kansas City, and I also have been afflicted with cancer. As of now I am doing well in my post-autologous stem cell transplant battle with multiple myeloma thanks to the good doctors at Weill Cornell/New York Presbyterian Hospital.

I immediately thought about many other members of the circa 1980 Royals team that had died due to cancer. Manager Dick Howser died in 1987 from a malignant brain tumor, reliever Dan Quisenberry died in 1989 from a brain tumor, reliever Ken Brett (albeit only in KC from 1980-81) died in 2003 after a prolonged battle with brain cancer. Now Splitt – and me. And Killebrew actually played his last season in the majors in Kansas City in 1975.

While acknowledging that he doesn’t and can’t have access to any more than anecdotal information, Bob notes that there seems to be an abnormal number of cancer diagnosis among ballplayers, especially former Royals.  He suggests that the MLBPA and Major League Baseball study cancer rates and types among former major leaguers.  It’s not a bad suggestion.

  1. kcfanatic - May 19, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    Could be something at the ballpark.

  2. Paul Zummo - May 19, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    Probably just an unfortunate coincidence. If I recall correctly there were an abnormal amount of former and even current Giants who came down with Hodgkins Disease in the mid 80s, and many attributed it to playing at the Meadowlands. That may have subsequently been debunked, and I am not familiar with the area around Kauffman to know if there are heightened incidences of cancer in that neighborhood.

  3. wlschneider09 - May 19, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Those sorts of cancer cluster studies rarely find anything. It’s incredibly hard to pinpoint areas where the immediate environment causes increased levels of cancer, due to the myriad causes and types of cancer, and the lack of statistical power associated with small sample sizes.

  4. havlicekstoletheball - May 19, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Any indication of how many former groundskeepers, clubhouse guys, etc., have been diagnosed or have died of cancer? They spend a lot more time close up to chemically-treated turf, etc. than even players do.

  5. scannyc - May 19, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    This is part of what The Brain Tumor Foundation is doing with their Road to Early Detection program…check it out at http://www.roadtoearlydetection.org.

  6. tuftsb - May 19, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    “Any indication of how many former groundskeepers, clubhouse guys, etc., have been diagnosed or have died of cancer? They spend a lot more time close up to chemically-treated turf, etc. than even players do.”

    I’d like to know that as well.

    I appear to have ticked off Royals fans on other sites by mentioning this. They still appear to care more about an outbreak of hemorrhoids in the 1980 World Series than cancer clusters

    Like everything else in the world, it pays to quantify the results. Why not examine this?

    • The Rabbit - May 20, 2011 at 2:42 PM

      I appear to have ticked off Royals fans on other sites by mentioning this.
      Except for a few notable exceptions, this site appears to attract more lateral thinkers than most websites.
      I hope someone is caring enough to gather and provide the info.
      My thoughts and prayers for a full recovery.

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