Darren Daulton was one of many ex-Phillies to die of brain cancer

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The announcement that former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton died of brain cancer yesterday was certainly sad news. Also sad: he was not the first former Phillies player to do so. In addition to Daulton, Tug McGraw, John Vukovich, Ken Brett and Johnny Oates all succumbed to it.

This cluster, such as it is, was discussed at length back when Daulton was first diagnosed back in 2013 and will likely come up again today as the baseball world remembers Daulton. At the time it was noted that, among players who called Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia their home ballpark, brain cancer rates were 3.1 times higher than the national average. Obviously, however, we’re dealing with a super small sample size here, and cancer clusters of note involve far, far greater subjects and incidents. Epidemiologists who talked about it in stories at the time all noted that, while interesting and unusual, there simply wasn’t the sort of data available to draw any meaningful conclusions from it. Ken Brett, for example, only played in Philly for one season. Hundreds of Philadelphia Eagles players called the Vet home and the club is unaware of any brain cancer diagnosis among its former players. It’s likely it would be impossible to establish that this is anything other than a sad coincidence.

This is not the only cancer cluster discussed in baseball circles. Several years ago former Royals pitcher Bob Tufts noted that he and several other ex-Royals had been diagnosed with or died of cancer as well. In addition to Tufts, Paul Splittoroff, Dick Howser and Dan Quisenberry died from various forms of the disease after spending time in K.C.. Again, anecdotal. Baseball’s most common cancer threat: skin cancer. Three years ago James Wagner wrote an excellent and enlightening story about that in the Washington Post.

Cancer doesn’t play favorites, of course, and no one has gone through life untouched by it somehow. The Darren Daulton Foundation exists to provide financial assistance to those affected by the disease. The Phillies and the Foundation will host a community night at Citizens Bank Park on September 17, which was scheduled before Daulton’s passing. In light of it, the event will presumably become something larger.

Jones, Maddux, Morris consider Bonds, Clemens for Hall

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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris and Ryne Sandberg are among 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee that will meet to consider the Cooperstown fate of an eight-man ballot that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro.

Hall of Famers Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also are on the panel, which will meet in San Diego ahead of the winter meetings.

They will be joined by former Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, former Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein, Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno, Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng, Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter and Chicago White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams.

Three media members/historians are on the committee: longtime statistical analyst Steve Hirdt of Stats Perform, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Neal and Slusser are past presidents of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Hall Chairman Jane Forbes Clark will be the committee’s non-voting chair.

The ballot also includes Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Curt Schilling. The committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A candidate needs 75% to be elected and anyone who does will be inducted on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the BBWAA vote, announced on Jan. 24.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their 10th and final appearances on the BBWAA ballot. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program, just over two weeks after getting his 3,000th hit.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) in 2021. Support dropped after hateful remarks he made in retirement toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 2019. Murphy was on the BBWAA ballot 15 times and received a high of 116 votes (23.2%) in 2000. Mattingly received a high of 145 votes (28.2%) in the first of 15 appearances on the BBWAA ballot in 2001, and Belle appeared on two BBWAA ballots, receiving 40 votes (7.7%) in 2006 and 19 (3.5%) in 2007.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.

This year’s BBWAA ballot includes Carlos Beltran, John Lackey and Jered Weaver among 14 newcomers and Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner among holdovers.