For Pete's Sake

A quick history of sports teams that have dealt with chickenpox, shingles, measles and more

Penguins star Sidney Crosby
Penguins star Sidney Crosby Twitter screenshot

The two cases of chickenpox in the Royals’ clubhouse has made national news. But it’s not the first time that sports teams have had to deal with a player or players who has an infectious disease.

Here are some other examples.

▪ Measles: In 1989, there were confirmed cases of measles at the University of Hartford and Siena College, so the East Coast Athletic Conference banned fans from the conference tournament in Hartford, Conn.

Siena’s Marc Brown told the New York Times: “At first it was different, new. But now, it’s starting to wear on me. I’m a little flashy; I like to make a nice pass and hear the crowd cheer. But no one cheers.”

Earlier this year, a California high school baseball coach was diagnosed with the measles.

▪ Shingles: Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was diagnosed with shingles in 2011.

“I just wish I’d taken pain medicine,” La Russa said upon his return after missing four gamess. “I went through all that agony for nothing.”

The following year, Giants catcher Buster Posey also had shingles.

Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis missed time with shingles last year.

▪ Mumps: Last year, mumps was the big story in sports. At least 14 players and two officials were diagnosed with mumps. That included the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby.

“We’ve had all our blood tests run before that,” Crosby told reporters upon his return. “All my tests were negative. The fact that I had that incident before that kind of threw everyone off.”

Last month, Barcelona soccer player Neymar was diagnosed with the mumps.

▪ Flu: Since 1915, the Stanley Cup has been awarded every season, except two. One was because of a players’ strike. But in 1919, the series between Montreal and Seattle was canceled after the fifth game because of a flu epidemic.

▪ Chicken pox: A Mexican soccer player was removed from the Pan-Am Games this summer after being diagnosed with chicken pox.

In 2011, a Los Angeles Lakers player missed time because of the disease.

A bunch of Tampa Bay Buccaneers players had chickenpox during the preseason in 1994.

In 1982, the NFC Championship Game between the 49ers and Cowboys (known for “The Catch”), included a 49ers player who took part in the game despite having chickenpox.

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @pgrathoff.

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