This news hits me pretty hard and very close to home. Paul (Splittoroff) 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 (hat tip to Dag Nabbit on Baseball Think Factory).
...With a cursory on line search, I discovered that there were four other players that were diagnosed with myeloma – Moe Drawbowsky, Mel Stottlemyre, Don Baylor and Vern Ruhle. I expect there to be more, but medical privacy laws do not permit a forensic search or the doctors to discuss their patient’s medical history. Nevertheless, just these men (and myself) show that baseball players are overrepresented among those who get this bone marrow cancer.
Perhaps it is time for Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association – with co-operation from the retired players who are members of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association – to launch an extensive study on cancer rates and the types of cancer as it relates to former players?