Home Sports Through the Years:  The Many Diseases of Baseball and Its Players

Through the Years:  The Many Diseases of Baseball and Its Players


Being a famous athlete puts you in the spotlight. Because of this, every piece of your life becomes public knowledge; from the places you vacation to the people you date and even to your overall health.

Through the years, many famous baseball players have been the victim of various diseases and illnesses. Some of these baseball players were able to treat the disease while others eventually lost their battle.

Take a trip down memory lane and learn about the many diseases that have affected baseball players through the years.

Photo: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley via Instagram.

Photo: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley via Instagram.

Lou Gehrig and the Ice Bucket Challenge

Lou Gehrig may just be the most famous baseball player known for a disease. After all, he has a disease named after him. Lou Gehrig, otherwise known on the field as The Iron Horse, played first base for the New York Yankees for 17 years. In 1939, Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS, or what some currently refer to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a progressive disease in which the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord become degenerate, resulting in paralysis.

Ron Santo

Ron Santo was an American baseball player for the Chicago Cubs. Santo was an All American player, earning many achievements and accolades throughout his career despite battling type 1 diabetes. In fact, Santo hid his diabetes for more than 80 percent of his career. After his retirement, he ended up having the lower half of both his knees amputated. Santo died in 2010.

Brett Butler

Brett Butler was an outfielder for the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1990s. In May 1996, Butler found out that he had squamous cell carcinoma in his tonsils, which required surgery and intensive treatment. Just four months after surgery, Butler was back on the field for the Dodgers, and even scored the winning run.

Ben Petrick

Ben Petrick is a former baseball player who had careers in both the minor and major leagues. He played for the Colorado Rockies and the Detroit Tigers from 1999 to 2004. In 2004, after noticing that his statistics and skill had fallen, he announced his retirement from baseball and disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Josh Hamilton

Whether for recreation, medical or steroidal use, many baseball players have been affected by some form of drug abuse. Josh Hamilton is the poster boy for baseball players with a drug problem. Hamilton suffered from drug addiction and alcohol abuse, and finally decided to fight his illness when confronted by his grandmother. Although he has been sober since 2004, in order to stay on track, Hamilton undergoes drug testing three times every week. And when his team achieves something great, Hamilton’s teammates opt to celebrate with ginger ale instead of alcohol to accommodate their teammate and keep him sober.

Baseball is America’s past time, and through the years, America has come to love many different players. Unfortunately, although we look up to these athletes, they’re not superheroes, and they too are affected by illness and disease just like everyone else.