Don’t worry, that shade of green is totally natural!
It was only a matter of time before someone tried to connect brain cancer to playing at Veterans Stadium.
Tug McGraw. John Vukovich. Johnny Oates. And now Darren Daulton.
All four played for the Phillies at Veterans Stadium, and all four developed brain cancer. Is there a connection?
The analysis then compared the rate of Phillies’ brain cancers over that period [1971-2003] with the rate of similar cancers in the adult male population, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and a 2011 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The national rate was 9.8 cases per 100,000 adult males per year, while the rate in the former Phillies was 30.1 cases per 100,000 – about 3.1 times as high. The national count included various kinds of glioma, such as glioblastoma – the aggressive form of cancer that struck all four former Phillies.
The theories, some of which are not overtly presented by Avril, are that perhaps Veterans Stadium’s turf, which may have contained lead, caused cancer… or that it was asbestos… or steroids… or the fact that the corridors of The Vet made sewers look inhabitable. No one really knows.
Avril points out that, statistically, the sample size is too small to get an accurate reading, and that other factors, age and length of service (playing time in The Vet) among them, skew the results one way or the other.
Plus there’s that issue of the subjects. Some of those players had bad habits… and I’m just talking about the ones we know. And how many times did, say, Darren Daulton have his skin pierced by X-rays? Quite a few.
The best argument is the one about the turf. As a Philly.com commenter pointed out, a letter to the editor that ran in the Inquirer 2005 built the case that in warm temperature digits – you know, the ones in which baseball is played – synthetic turf releases a cancer-causing dioxin:
I’d start with the Astro Turf. According to the U.S. patent office, Astro Turf is composed of many ingredients, one of which is polyvinyl chloride, a plastic that when exposed to temperatures of 86 degrees or more breaks down into a dioxin.
If inhaled on a consistent basis, and if you have a susceptibility factor, it could eventually lead to angiosarcoma in the brain and or liver. Throw in a stadium where this heavier-than-air byproduct has no place to travel, and this might be an item to examine.
Maybe so. In fact, everyone’s favorite humanity-destroyer, Monsanto, makers of seeds, pesticides and other synthetic things, produced the original Astro Turf in Houston— the same kind that served as a rock-hard playing surface on South Broad. That’s what Dutch et al. played on.
But recent discussion surrounding artificial turf and cancer has focused on newer versions, the so-called Nex Turf, which wasn’t put in place at The Vet until 2001.
If you’ve ever stood or played on a Nex Turf-style field, you’re likely well aware of the little rubber pellets – which look like dirt – that serve as the cushiony foundation. They save your knees.. but they may also cause cancer: [UCONN Health]
Every new expanse of artificial turf contains plastic grass and about 120 tons of finely chopped tires that emit a small amount of toxic, cancer-causing, mutation-triggering chemicals and metals.
The layer of rubber “crumbs” makes the surface softer and more forgiving. It also gives off dozens of compounds that have not been studied or assessed for safety in the United States.
It’s those rubber “crumbs” at the heart of most current debates (at least the ones available to a quick Google search). Dutch, Tug, Vuk and Oates played on the older stuff, the stuff that’s not used anymore. As such, research will focus on newer iterations of turf, meaning we may never get a definitive answer about the alleged cancer-causing effects of that concrete carpet at The Vet.