Baseball Great Curt Schilling:… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
sign up

Baseball Great Curt Schilling: Chewing Tobacco “Gave Me Cancer”

August 20, 2014

Curt Schilling Pitch

All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling was known for his toughness during his Major League Baseball career. Who can forget the bloody sock from the 2004 playoffs, when he helped the Boston Red Sox win their first World Series championship in 86 years?

Now Schilling is in another tough battle – against oral cancer that he today attributed to his longtime use of chewing tobacco. Schilling’s statement comes just months after Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn’s death from cancer that he, too, attributed to chewing tobacco.

These players’ experiences send a powerful message about the serious risks that chewing tobacco poses to the health of Major League ballplayers – and the terrible example players set for young fans who see them using tobacco.

The solution to this problem is to take tobacco out of baseball once and for all. In June, nine major health organizations, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, urged Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to prohibit tobacco use at ballparks and on camera.

We reiterate that call today.

Schilling’s statement underscores the power of tobacco addiction – and how devastating the health consequences can be. Here’s an excerpt from Schilling’s interview during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon:

I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably that chewing is what gave me cancer and I’m not going to sit up here from the pedestal and preach about chewing. I will say this: I did for about 30 years. It was an addictive habit. I can think of so many times in my life when it was so relaxing to just sit back and have a dip and do whatever, and I lost my sense of smell, my taste buds for the most part. I had gum issues, they bled, all this other stuff. None of it was enough to ever make me quit. The pain that I was in going through this treatment, the second or third day it was the only thing in my life that had that I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once. It was so painful.

Schilling has stated that his cancer is in remission. We wish him all the best in his recovery and thank him for speaking about the dangers of smokeless tobacco.

(Photo: 'Curt Schilling Pitch' by User Googie Man on en.wikipedia - From en.wikipedia; description page is (was) here. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)