Bill Tuttle

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Bill Tuttle
Bill Tuttle 1954.png
Tuttle in 1954.
Center fielder
Born: (1929-07-04)July 4, 1929
Cramer, Illinois
Died: July 27, 1998(1998-07-27) (aged 69)
Anoka, Minnesota
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 10, 1952, for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
May 11, 1963, for the Minnesota Twins
MLB statistics
Batting average.259
Home runs67
Runs batted in443

William Robert Tuttle (July 4, 1929 – July 27, 1998) was a center fielder for three teams during his Major League Baseball career; the Detroit Tigers from 1952 to 1957, the Kansas City Athletics from 1958 to 1961, and the Minnesota Twins from 1961 to 1963. He batted and threw right-handed and also played third base for a brief period in 1961.

On practically every baseball card issued for Tuttle, a large bulge of chewing tobacco is evident in his cheek.[1] Tuttle died in Anoka, Minnesota at the age of 69, and oral cancer was in all likelihood the cause of his death.[2] Bill was diagnosed with oral cancer five years before his death, and he put the last half-decade of his life to use in raising awareness, as an active volunteer for the National Spit Tobacco Education Program (NSTEP) [3] of Oral Health America.[4]

Bill Tuttle signature baseball glove, circa 1964

During the last years of his life, Tuttle was facially disfigured due to extensive surgery for oral cancer. He traveled widely as a public speaker, warning major league players of the dangers of chewing tobacco.[1] "It's going to be pretty hard to tell someone making $4 million a year not to chew", he admitted. "So what we're trying to do is get it off TV." [5] What Tuttle was trying to do was to stop baseball players from chewing tobacco, and thus setting a bad example for the young people who watch baseball. After being diagnosed with oral cancer, he was interviewed for a Reader's Digest article entitled "My War With A Smoke Free Killer" in which he detailed how he was introduced to chewing tobacco by a teammate while sidelined with an injury and subsequently became addicted. The article made it a point to show pictures of a disfigured Tuttle after his many facial surgeries. He died in July 1998 at age 69.[6]

Tuttle was born and grew up in Cramer, Illinois, a small farming town located three miles southeast of Farmington, Illinois, where his parents operated a General Store. After attending Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, he played in his first major league game on September 10, 1952. In his 11-year career, Tuttle had a .259 batting average, with 67 home runs and 443 RBIs. He had 1,105 career hits before retiring on May 11, 1963. Throughout his career, Tuttle was considered one of the most reliable outfielders in the game, leading the league in putouts in 1955 and 1960 and outfield assists in 1959 and 1960.


  1. ^ a b "Profile: A painful portrait; Former player preachers evils of cancer-causing chewing tobacco". USA Today. June 6, 1996.
  2. ^ Imholte, J (1998). "Anti-spit tobacco crusader Bill Tuttle". Tobacco Control. 7 (4): 443–444. doi:10.1136/tc.7.4.443.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-29.
  6. ^ Richard Goldstein (July 30, 1998). "Bill Tuttle, 69, an Opponent Of Use of Chewing Tobacco". The New York Times.

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