HomeSportsInvestigation Links Astroturf to the Deaths of Six Former Philadelphia Phillies Players

Investigation Links Astroturf to the Deaths of Six Former Philadelphia Phillies Players

by Alex Weber
philadelphia phillies
(Getty Images/ Rich Schultz / Contributor

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently revealed some reporting that the Philadelphia Phillies’ old baseball stadium used AstroTurf that very well may have led to the deaths of six former Phillies players.

“The players – Tug McGraw, Darren Daulton, John Vukovich, John Oates, Ken Brett, and David West – all played for the Phillies and all died of the aggressive brain cancer glioblastoma before the age of 60,” wrote Front Office Sports in a summary of The Inquirer’s initial story.

That disease, predicts The Inquirer, likely came from the turf used in the old Phillies stadium that these players played on.

“Unlike grass, the artificial carpet trapped heat, especially during summer day games,” The Inquirer wrote. “The blades of plastic grass were practically cooking; temperature gauges recorded figures that regularly soared above 100 degrees, and sometimes reached 165 degrees, releasing toxic vapors that could be inhaled.”

Players start to suffer from illness in early 2000s

By the late 2000s, some of the players began to suffer effects of the disease that ultimately led to their deaths. And as The Inquirer notes, the disease seems very likely to have come from the turf.

Ken Brett first noticed some numbness in his pinkie one day. After the discomfort didn’t go away immediately, he had it checked out by his doctor, who wound up finding a tumor in his brain that eventually killed Brett four years later in 2003.

John Vukovich first started having some bad headaches in 2001. Like Brett, when the pain sustained, he eventually visited a doctor, who also found a tumor in his brain that would wind up taking Vukovich’s life as well.

John Oates passed away a year after Brett in 2004 after his own battle with glioblastoma. Tug McGraw also died that same year. More recently, in 2017, Darren Daulton passed away from the disease and so did Davis West in 2022.

Eventually, such a string of deaths all connected to a very rare disease led The Inquirer to investigate the astroturf that the men all played on during their time with the Phillies. During their investigation, The Inquirer purchased pieces of the old turf to study and found “forever chemicals” that had likely caused the disease for these unfortunate players.

Front Office Sports says the chemicals “have been connected to kidney and testicular cancer, among other maladies, and the brain cancer rate among the 532 Phillies who played at Veterans Stadium from 1971 to 2003 is around triple the average rate of adult men.”

Seems that this wretched astroturf field could be to blame for the tragic deaths of these former Phillies players. Good thing most pro sports clubs have changed to different types of turf for their stadiums.