Darren Daulton Battling Brain Cancer Through Charity

A former Philadelphia Phillies star has brain cancer, and is battling the disease through the work of his charitable foundation.

In 1980, the Philadelphia Phillies were driving toward the club’s fourth NL East crown in five years.

That thrilling season would ultimately culminate in a third National League pennant, and the then 98-year-old organization’s first-ever World Series championship victory.

In June of that summer, the Phillies made an 18-year-old catcher out of Arkansas City High School in Kansas their 25th round selection in the MLB Amateur Draft.

Darren Daulton would sign a contract days later, beginning a nearly two decade career with the organization.

Daulton would make his big league debut with the 1983 “Wheeze Kids” team of aging veterans that would capture yet another NL pennant. By 1985 he was in the major leagues for good, and by 1989 was the Phillies’ everyday catcher.

Daulton would suffer a number of knee injuries which would derail his career early on. But he fought through multiple surgeries to emerge as a 3x NL All-Star, a Silver Slugger Award winner, a 2x NL MVP top ten voting finisher, and the captain and leader of the Phillies during the 1990s.

After helping lead the “Macho Row” team to the 1993 NL pennant, Daulton was finally dealt at age 35 to the then Florida Marlins for the end of the 1997 season. There he would help the Fish to the franchise’s first-ever World Series title that October.

In 2010, after 14 seasons with the Phillies over which he played 1,109 games, with 965 of those at catcher, Daulton was selected for the team’s highest honor when he was voted into the Phillies Wall of Fame.

Daulton became known throughout his career as both a clubhouse leader and a fighter. Little did he know that it would be in retirement from the game where he would be forced to undertake his most difficult battle.

In early July 2013, Daulton had surgery to remove two tumors in his brain. Just a week later it was announced that he was suffering from gioblastoma, which is an aggressive form of brain cancer.

“Glioblastoma is a very difficult, challenging tumor that starts in the brain. So it’s not a tumor that started elsewhere in the body and traveled to the brain. It’s something that actually started in the brain. So if you can imagine a tumor growing within the brain, it’s going to be integrated with normal tissue. So one of the challenges as a surgeon is to be able to remove the tumor while respecting the normal tissue. In a healthy person who’s in the prime of their lives, the only way to treat this tumor is to be aggressive. That’s aggressive surgically and it’s aggressive with every other aspect of care.” ~ Dr. Donald O’Rourke, neurosurgeon, University of Pennsylvania Health System per CSNPhilly.com

In early 2015, after receiving results of an MRI and examinations from his doctors, Daulton released a message via his Twitter feed that he was cancer-free at that time.

Daulton appeared at Citizens Bank Park this season when he threw out the first pitch before the Phillies game on Sunday, May 15 vs the Cincinnati Reds. A picture from that day accompanies this story, and a video can be viewed here.

He was also present when Jim Thome was inducted into the club’s Wall of Fame in August.

Back in 2015, longtime Phillies star player, coach and manager Larry Bowa, now the team’s bench coach, spoke for a number of Phils alumni when he expressed concerns that there might be a link between playing at Veteran’s Stadium and brain cancer.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

“Yeah, it’s very scary. I know cancer is a big illness in our society, but to have that many guys get brain cancer…” said Bowa per Randy Miller at USA Today in a well-written and researched piece on the Phillies’ situation, and the issue of cancer clusters in work.

Daulton was the fifth known player who performed with the Phillies between the 1970s and 1990s to develop brain cancer. His diagnosis followed those of Ken Brett, Johnny Oates, Tug McGraw and John Vukovich.

“Once it happened to Tug, we were all in shock,” said Dickie Noles, a pitcher on that 1980 World Series team, per Miller.

“Then once it happened to Vuke (Vukovich), 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?”

Brett, brother of Hall of Famer George Brett, succumbed to the disease in 2003 at just age 55. Both McGraw and Oates passed away the following year at ages 59 and 58, respectively. Vukovich died in early 2007 at just 59 years of age.

Daulton is, thankfully, still with us at age 54 now, fighting the disease still personally, as well as through his charitable Darren Daulton Foundation.

The Foundation, per its website, is committed to providing financial assistance to those who suffer from brain cancer, brain tumors and brain injuries. They actively raise funds through events and partnerships.

One of the biggest events is coming up a week from now, as the DD Foundation along with the Philadelphia Phillies hosts their annual golf outing.

The golf outing will be a “four-person scramble” style event held on Monday, October 10 beginning with a noon tee-off at Plymouth Country Club in Plymouth Meeting, PA, approximately 25 miles west of Philly.

According to the Foundation, Daulton is currently “still courageously fighting his battle with brain cancer, he is doing well and is looking forward to attending the tournament and spending the day with his teammates, sponsors and friends.”

A number of the 1993 National League champion Phillies will take place in the golf outing, including starting pitchers Danny Jackson, Tommy Greene and Ben Rivera, infielders Mickey Morandini, Kim Batiste and Ricky Jordan, and outfielder Jim Eisenreich.

Former Phillies players also scheduled to participate include Bowa, Ricky Bottalico, Larry Christenson, Greg Gross and many others.

The day at Plymouth will include a luncheon at noon, the golf outing, and a dinner following the golf action at which a number of prizes will be awarded. There will be a sports memorabilia auction as the evening moves along.

For information on participating, those interested can contact Brett Datto at 215-738-2013. For press information, including credentialing, you can contact the Foundation’s social media director, Caleb Mezzy, at 215-570-7245 or at csmezzy@gmail.com.

This coming weekend, prior to the golf outing, there will be a private party held on Sunday, October 9 from 5-9pm at Chickie’s & Pete’s on Roosevelt Boulevard.

The ‘Secret Service Band’ will provide the entertainment for this beef and beer event. Daulton, Greene and other members of that 1993 Phillies team will be present, and there will be a 50/50 raffle and silent auction items.

Limited tickets remain at $30 prior to the day of the event through the DD Foundation website at this link, and $40 on the day of the event. More information on the party can be found on Facebook at this page link. All monies benefit the Darren Daulton Foundation.