Outside of the steroid problem, it is important to first talk about the amphetamine problem that has plagued baseball as well.
“Steroids and baseball. The two seemed to be inextricably jointed at the hip. Whenever one is mentioned, the other is sure to be brought up… Before there were steroids in the game… there were amphetamines (Emen, 2007).”
First, what are amphetamines?
Also known as “greenies (Emen, 2007),” they were the first performance enhancing drug floating around baseball clubhouses. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig says that they have been around in baseball for "seven or eight decades (Emen, 2007).”
Former baseball player Jim Bouton (Appendix A)
detailed the usage of greenies for a multitude of causes or symptoms. Whether it be a hangover from a night of partying, general fatigue or a player in need of a boost of home run swatting energy-- greenies were the friends of ballplayers everywhere (Emen, 2007).
“In 1964, aided by uppers, (Bouton) led the American League in starts (Chafets, 2009, pg. 178).” Bouton recalls in his book, Ball Four, that once, a player “received a supply of five hundred amphetamine pills (Chafets, 2009, pg. 178).” He admitted that “just about the whole Baltimore (Orioles) team takes them. Most of the (Detroit) Tigers. Most of the guys on (his team) (Chafets, 2009, pg. 178),” too.
Amphetamines (like steroids) were illegal without prescription in American society but were just a part of the baseball culture. Best I can tell, amphetamines are performance enhancing drugs that, many people feel, sharpen focus and increase energy levels and help an athlete overcome exhaustion (Posnanski, 2010).
The great Willie Mays admitted,
I would go to the doctor and would say to the doctor, ‘Hey, I need something to keep me going. Could you give me some sort of vitamin?’ I don’t know what they put in there, and I never asked a question about anything (Posnanski, 2010).
Just about every player used amphetamines. “Pete Rose did. Hank Aaron admitted trying it (Posnanski, 2010).”
While amphetamines were not banned from baseball until 1971 (Chafets, 2009, pg. 178), former Royals outfielder Brian McRae (Appendix A) recalled how amphetamines have become a part of the clubhouse scene. “There were always two pots of coffee brewing in the clubhouse -- one conventional and the other laced with stimulants (Crasnick, 2006).”
As for the repercussions, “Under baseball's amphetamines policy… players are not publicly identified for a first positive test. A second positive test for amphetamines results in a 25-game suspension ("Report: Bonds," 2007).”
Before amphetamines there was Dexamyl, “an upper that came into commercial use in the mid-1930's and was given to American troops during World War II to increase stamina and enhance battlefield performance (Chafets, 2009, pg. 178).”
I have never understood why many people are so outraged about baseball players’ steroid use and so unperturbed by amphetamine use. I guess it makes some sense on a gut level — injecting yourself with steroids seems so much more villainous than popping a couple of greenies to get a boost (Posnanski, 2010).
Hall of Famer Jim Bunning (Appendix A) says,
steroids have been illegal in the United States since 1990 when Congress passed the Anabolic Steroids Act, yet Major League Baseball chose to ignore the problem for nearly 15 years, leading to what is now known as the Steroid Era (Bunning, 2009).