Former Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa is among those who wonder why so many ex-Phillies have been stricken with brain cancer.
Bowa, now an analyst for the MLB Network who spent 24 years as a Phillies player, manager and coach, voiced his concerns in an interview with USA Today.
Darren Daulton, who recently had surgery for brain cancer, is the latest former Phillie to be hit with the disease.
Pitcher Ken Brett died of it in 2003. Tug McGraw and Johnny Oates died the next year. Third baseman and longtime Phillies coach John Vukovich died in 2007.
"Yeah, it's very scary," Bowa told USA Today. "I know cancer is a big illness in our society, but to have that many (Phillies) guys get brain cancer ..."
People want to know whether Veterans Stadium played a role. It was the Phillies home from 1971 to 2003 and demolished in 2004.
"Once it happened to Tug, we were all in shock," said former Phillies pitcher Dickie Noles, according to the USA Today report. "Then once it happened to Vuk, the other ballplayers kind of had the feeling like, 'Wow.' Then when it happened to Daulton, every ballplayer I've seen talked about it.
"There seems to be some correlation with this and baseball. What was the Vet built on? Was it something in the building? The asbestos?"
Bowa said he discussed the issue with former Phillies Dave Hollins, Greg Luzinski and Marty Bystrom.
"I know there were a lot of pipes that were exposed when we played there and we had AstroTurf," said Bowa. "I'm not trying to blame anybody. It's just sort of strange that that can happen to one team playing at the Vet."
The USA Today article reported that national studies suggest males have a 0.7 percent chance of being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. However, 3.14 percent of the Phillies' 159 players from 1973 to 1983 were diagnosed with brain cancer.
Dr. Richard Osenbach, a brain surgeon who grew up in a Philadelphia as a Phillies fan, does not believe there is any cause and effect from playing at Veterans Stadium.
"It is sort of wild, but probably complete coincidence," said Dr. Osenbach told USA Today. "Jeez, Louise, I can't imagine it would have anything to do with baseball."
There is no concrete evidence that is anything more than coincidence.
"There is not a known cause for brain tumors," Deneen Hesser, chief mission officer for the American Brain Tumor Association, told the paper.
Just four other major leaguers were diagnosed with brain cancers and died over the last 15 years: Gary Carter, Dan Quisenberry, Bobby Murcer and Dick Howser. All of them played games at the Vet.
The Philadelphia Eagles played home games at the Vet for many years, and none of their players is known to be a victim of brain cancer.
No case study has been done on the Phillies' unusual situation. If one were to be done, it would be performed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Bowa would like to see it done.
"I think for guys that are still alive, it would ease some of their questions," he said. "It's hard to believe that there's no documentation. It's very ironic that four or five of our guys have gotten brain cancer. It seems very, very rare."
In the meantime, Daulton is up against discouraging odds. The American Brain Tumor Association says that the median survival for patients with glioblastoma, which is the form Daulton has, is 12 to 14 months. The two-year survival rate is just 30 percent.