Drug/Cocaine Scandals

    Many of the players involved in the Drug Scandals in baseball are not Hall of Fame worthy. The necessity in touching upon the topic of drug use, however, is to show how it ruined careers of players that started out with Hall of Fame potential.

    Seeing as there were so many players involved in the cocaine problem, it was easier to group them together in this section rather than separate them.

    I guess cocaine is for the birds… the Pittsburgh Pirates mascot, that is.

The bird became embroiled in baseball's cocaine scandal of 1985 when it was revealed before a grand jury in Pittsburgh that he'd introduced assorted members of the Pirates to a local drug peddler and had even distributed a little Peruvian coco powder himself (“Baseball’s All-Scandal Team,” n.d.).

    The list of players that were involved in the cocaine scandal is endless. “Four Kansas City Royals, including a former American League batting champion (Willie Wilson (Appendix A)) and a once sensational pitcher (Vida Blue (Appendix A)), were sent to prison for cocaine use and other players were implicated but not prosecuted (Magnuson, 2001),” for example.

    Cocaine was so rampant in baseball that Keith Hernandez (Appendix A), the 1979 NL Most Valuable Player, admitted “he believed that approximately 40% of players in the big leagues were using coke as well (Ray, 2008).”

    Hernandez said that he used “‘massive’ amounts (of cocaine) starting in 1980 after he and his wife separated… there was a ‘love affair’ between baseball players and cocaine in 1980 (Magnuson, 2001).”

    Steve Howe (Appendix A), who won the Rookie of the Year award in 1980, “fought a long, hard battle with cocaine that included seven suspensions… in 1992 (he) became the second player ever to be banned for life due to substance abuse (“Baseball’s All-Scandal Team,” n.d.).”

    LaMarr Hoyt (Appendix A), former pitcher for the San Diego Padres, was “arrested… and charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana ("Hoyt Arrested," 1987).” His career started out as a promising one; in 1982 he won a league high 19 games, and in 1983 he won the Cy Young Award (“La Marr Hoyt - BR Bullpen,” n.d.), but “he violated probation by testing positive for cocaine use… Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth (Appendix C) suspended Hoyt for the 1987 season because of the… drug abuse, but the suspension was reduced to 60 days ("Hoyt Arrested," 1987).”

    While there are more players that were involved in the cocaine scandal of the 1980’s (it is unconfirmed how many other mascots were involved as well), Darryl Strawberry (Appendix A) and Dwight “Doc” Gooden (Appendix A) both had the most promising careers of anyone associated.

    First up, Darryl Strawberry. The New York Mets career leader in home runs and RBIs ("Darryl Strawberry concerned," 2010) was “heralded as a can't-miss superstar upon his 1983 arrival in the bigs, (his career) was pockmarked by constant conflicts with teammates, drug suspensions, rehabs, arrests, jail time, a paternity suit and accusations of spousal abuse and tax evasion (“Baseball’s All-Scandal Team,” n.d.).”

    Strawberry admitted that not only did he have sex and receive oral sex during baseball games but his teammates did as well (Emen, 2009). Somehow, this lacks character and integrity.

    In 2002 he was sentenced for “violating his probation on a 1999 conviction on drug and solicitation of prostitution charges ("Strawberry Sentenced," 2002).”

    According to a chronological timeline of Strawberry’s misdeeds, outside of the drug world, some of them included ("Darryl Strawberry Chronology," n.d.):

  • In 1987 his wife files a petition for legal separation in Los Angeles. She accuses him of breaking her nose after a game in October 1986,

  • In 1990 he was arrested for alleged assault with a deadly weapon during an argument with his wife,

  • In 1993 he was arrested for allegedly striking Charisse Simons (Appendix C), the 26-year-old woman he lived with,

  • In March of 1994 he was investigated by the IRS and U.S. Attorney's Office for allegedly failing to file tax returns for in excess of $300,000 of income,

  • December of 1994, he and his agent Eric Goldschmidt (Appendix C) were indicted on federal tax evasion charges alleging that Strawberry failed to report more than $500,000 in income earned from 1986 through 1990 and

  • In 1999 he was charged with possession of cocaine and soliciting a prostitute. According to police, Strawberry allegedly solicited an undercover officer for sex for $50. Upon being searched, 0.3 grams of powder cocaine was found inside of his wallet. ("Darryl Strawberry Chronology," n.d.)

    Tampa psychologist Sidney Marin (Appendix C) claimed that some of his negative actions “doesn't make him an immoral individual (Chachere, 2001)," because he had suffered brain damage from all of the drug use.

    The expectation among fans during the first half of his career because of his play was that he would get into the Hall of Fame ("Darryl Strawberry - BR Bullpen," n.d.).

    “Strawberry was a near-lock for the Hall of Fame (Gregory, 2009),” Time Magazine once wrote. The reporter and Strawberry sat down for an interview and one of the questions was about his drug use hindering Hall of Fame consideration, even though his statistics were consistent with other Hall of Fame players. Realizing that the use of drugs ruined his promising career, Strawberry admitted, “I use a line from Mickey Mantle all the time. ‘If I would have known I was this good, I would have taken better care of myself’ (Gregory, 2009).”

    Dwight Gooden showed a lot of promise when he entered the Major Leagues. In his rookie year he went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA and had a league high 276 strikeouts to win the Rookie of the Year award, which is generally won by non-pitchers, and finished second in the Cy Young voting ("Dwight Gooden," n.d.). His second season was even more spectacular; he won a league high 24 games, losing only 4, had a 1.53 ERA, 16 complete games, led the league in strikeouts again and capped the season off with the pitchers triple crown, Cy Young Award and finished fourth in the MVP voting ("Dwight Gooden," n.d.).

    After those two remarkable seasons his career started to go south. During the next fourteen seasons he started racking up numerous “suspensions, rehab stints, jail time and arrests for everything from fighting with cops to DUI to punching his girlfriend ("Baseball's All-Scandal Team").” He also failed a cocaine test in 1987 ("Baseball's All-Scandal Team").

    On March 24, 2010, he was charged with “driving under the influence of drugs, endangering the welfare of a child, leaving the scene, reckless driving and DWI with a child passenger (Sandoval & McShane, 2010).”

    Both he and Darryl Strawberry were inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame on August 1, 2010 (Harper, 2010). It seems as though with their drug filled background that this is the only Hall of Fame that they will be enshrined in as their promising careers were ruined by the use of cocaine.

    In researching the drug incidents that are keeping players out of the Hall of Fame, ESPN.com had transcripts of e-mails between Jayson Stark and Peter Gammons (Appendix C), two of the most prolific baseball journalists ever, regarding Tim Raines (Appendix A).

    In 1982, Raines admitted using cocaine “before, after and even during games and said that he would slide head first because he had bags of cocaine in his pocket that might fall out if he slid feet first (Friend, 2007).”

    Raines, along with current Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson (Appendix A), “towered over the leadoff hitters of their generation (Stark & Gammons, 2007).” Stark argues,

he finished in the top five in steals nine times, in the top five in on-base percentage six times and in the top five in most times reaching base six times. He finished first or second in runs scored four times. He finished in the top three in three batting races… I have no doubt that if he was a member of the 3,000-hit club, he'd cruise on into Cooperstown (he finished his career being 395 hits away and during his career Major League Baseball was notorious for not playing complete seasons)… every eligible player who reached base as many times as Raines did, and had as high an on-base percentage as he had, is in the Hall of Fame (Stark & Gammons, 2007).

Clearly, Tim Raines has put up the statistics that are worthy of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. As of 2010 he has two remaining years left on his ballot eligibility and it is unclear if the voters are keeping him out because of the drug problems or his lack of career statistics.

Dave Parker is a player whose hitting credentials seem to make him a strong Hall of Fame candidate ("Dave Parker - BR Bullpen," n.d.)” but he was involved in a drug scandal during his career, which has probably diminished his vote.

Parker was sued in Federal court by the Pirates, who were irked by the fact that they were on the hook for $5.3 million at a time when the slugger was proving that cocaine was not exactly a performance-enhancing drug. (His production had tailed off and he'd become bloated and prone to injury.) ("Baseball's All-Scandal Team").

    Baseball-Reference.com lists Orlando Cepeda (Appendix A) as a similar player to Parker. “Orlando Cepeda also had drug problems, but eventually ended up in the Hall of Fame ("Dave Parker - BR Bullpen," n.d.).”

    Cepeda was charged during a traffic stop after the police found

marijuana in addition to a ‘usable’ amount of a white powder substance, believed to be methamphetamine or cocaine, and a syringe… He was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of a controlled substance, possession of a hypodermic needle or syringe and possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors ("Baseball Star Orlando" 2007).

    After not being charged with driving under the influence of drugs, “His attorney said that the baseball star doesn’t use drugs and that the marijuana found in the car was medical marijuana used by a family member for diabetes ("Baseball Star Orlando" 2007).”

    In 1975, Cepeda was “arrested at San Juan airport after trying to pick up more than 150 pounds of marijuana… He served 10 months in a state prison ("Orlando Cepeda - BR Bullpen," n.d.).”

    Cepeda was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, 14 years after being arrested for the possession of 150 pounds of marijuana. Dave Parker is still waiting to be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame.