Bill Tuttle

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Bill Tuttle
Bill Tuttle 1954.png
Tuttle in 1954.
Center fielder
Born: (1929-07-04)July 4, 1929
Elmwood, 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 an American professional baseball player. Primarily a center fielder, he appeared in 1,270 games played in Major League Baseball over 11 seasons for the Detroit Tigers (1952; 19541957), Kansas City Athletics (19581961) and Minnesota Twins (1961–1963). Tuttle also played 85 games as a third baseman during 1961 for the Twins: they were the only MLB games he ever played at the "hot corner." He threw and batted right-handed, stood 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and weighed 190 pounds (86 kg).

Baseball career[edit]

Tuttle was born and grew up in Cramers, a small farming community located within Elmwood, Illinois, and three miles southeast of Farmington, 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 149 doubles, 47 triples, 67 home runs and 443 RBIs. He had 1,105 career hits. His finest offensive seasons came in 1955 and 1959. In the former year, he reached career highs in runs scored (102), home runs (14) and runs batted in (78). In the latter season, Tuttle batted .300 for the only time in his MLB tenure, collecting 139 hits in 126 games. Throughout his career, he was considered one of the most reliable defensive players in the game, leading all American League outfielders in putouts in 1955 and 1960 and assists in 1959 and 1960. He also led center fielders in assists in 1955, 1956 and 1958.


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] Tuttle was diagnosed with oral cancer five years before his death, and used the last half-decade of his life to raise 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]

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 showed pictures of a disfigured Tuttle after his many facial surgeries.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Profile: A painful portrait; Former player preaches 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.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Richard Goldstein (July 30, 1998). "Bill Tuttle, 69, an Opponent Of Use of Chewing Tobacco". The New York Times.

External links[edit]