Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling released a PSA Wednesday warning of the dangers of smokeless tobacco, touching on his personal addiction that spanned three decades and current fight against cancer.
“I’ve met men with half a face, half a tongue, half a jaw, who tried to warn me. I could still only hear my addiction,” Schilling said in the video, which is a joint effort of Major League Baseball and the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society.”Well, now I’m paying attention, because I have oral cancer.”
Schilling, an ESPN analyst, was diagnosed with mouth cancer two years ago after chewing tobacco for 30 years, continuing a habit he picked up as a high school baseball player.
The announcement will play both on the MLB Network and at games in various ballparks.
The tradition of chewing tobacco in baseball became an issue in Boston last year with Mayor Marty Walsh signing an ordinance banning the use of tobacco at all of the city’s ballparks, including Fenway Park, in September. Violations result in a $250 fine. The ban went into effect April 1, and it’s since received mixed reactions from players on other teams.
For Schilling, the painful treatments he endured and months he spent in the hospital made him regret chewing tobacco. He’s lost his senses of taste and smell, and says his health and future remain uncertain.
“Because of [chewing tobacco], I may miss out on the rest of my life with my wife and my kids,” Schilling said. “And that’s a very big deal.