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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Hagen: One former major leaguer’s story of use and abuse in the ‘steroid era’

Where’s my vile Dorothy Kilgallen vial?...The mystery guest is about to sign in!

One time, the former major league pitcher recalled, the package that arrived in the mail looked like it contained pastries. The label even said something like Johnny’s Bakery on it. Puzzled, he opened the box. Sure enough, he found cookies inside.

And underneath were the vials of steroids and human growth hormone he had ordered.

He asked that his name not be used for this story. It’s not that he is ashamed of what he has done. He is willing to accept responsibility for his actions. But he doesn’t want to implicate others. Besides, he might try to get back into baseball someday. So he agreed to talk to the Daily News only on the condition of anonymity.

His career spanned much of what is now commonly referred to as the steroids era. He had some success, but never became a superstar. He played for several teams. Every player’s story differs in some details but, with Alex Rodriguez’ admission that he used illegal drugs putting the subject back in the headlines, the anonymous player’s journey sheds some light on the shadowy world of the use of performance-enhancing substances by major league players.

Repoz Posted: March 04, 2009 at 11:13 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: steroids

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: March 04, 2009 at 12:14 PM (#3092094)
This reporter should anonymously tell another reporter who the player is. After all, the public has a right to know.
   2. J.C. Bradbury Posted: March 04, 2009 at 12:17 PM (#3092095)
This sounds an awful lot like Chris Reitsma, especially the line-drive incident.

Milwaukee added a run in the ninth on an RBI double by Bill Hall off Chris Reitsma, who left the game when the next hitter, J.J. Hardy, hit a liner into his lower rib area. Reitsma recovered and threw out Hardy. X-rays taken of Reitsma were negative.


Though, I suspect several pitchers fit the description in the story.
   3. HGM Posted: March 04, 2009 at 12:30 PM (#3092098)
He didn't spend a year in the minors before retiring, nor did his career really span "much of what is commonly referred to as the steroids era." His career straddles the line of no testing and testing.
   4. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 12:44 PM (#3092102)
Ooh, this could be a fun one to guess at.

Good article worth the read.
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 01:39 PM (#3092110)
Kent Merker
   6. Lassus Posted: March 04, 2009 at 01:56 PM (#3092115)
Christy Mathewson
   7. Colin Posted: March 04, 2009 at 02:09 PM (#3092123)
Very interesting article.
   8. Dag Nabbit is a cornucopia of errors Posted: March 04, 2009 at 02:15 PM (#3092125)
Dooley Womack.
   9. J.C. Bradbury Posted: March 04, 2009 at 02:16 PM (#3092127)
Yeah, it's probably not Reitsma, or anyone else we might guess. I just recall the line-drive incident, because he was absolutely drilled but acted like nothing had happened.
   10. Styles P. Deadball Posted: March 04, 2009 at 02:24 PM (#3092134)
Dooley Womack.


The Dooley Womack?
   11. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 03:19 PM (#3092183)
Perhaps it's like the mysterious minor leaguer from The Juice, and the author has changed "nonmaterial details" so as to obscure the guy's identity?
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: March 04, 2009 at 03:27 PM (#3092194)
Perhaps it's like the mysterious minor leaguer from The Juice, and the other has changed "nonmaterial details" so as to obscure the guy's identity?


Which is probably a wiser choice than McCarthy made in Odd Man Out, where he changes a few of the details but not the names.
   13. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 03:30 PM (#3092197)
the reasson I brought up Mercker is that he fits 3 of the criteria in TFA;;

-he did pitch for several teams

-his career certainly spanned the steroid era

-he did have elbow surgery

-he was in the minors last year

I dunno--just a wild ad hoc guess
   14. WhoWantsTeixeiraDessert Posted: March 04, 2009 at 03:42 PM (#3092213)
I dunno what the big deal is, I read this anonymously.
   15. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 03:54 PM (#3092225)
From the article we know the following about the mystery pitcher:

1. His career spanned much of the steroids era.
2. He is now retired.
3. He is not currently working in baseball.
4. He had "some success" in the majors, but was "not a superstar."
5. He played for several teams.
6. He had a mid-90s fastball.
7. He had elbow injuries/surgery.
8. He played his last season in the minors.
9. He did not appear in the Mitchell Report.
10. He -- like a thousand pitchers -- took a line drive from the box.

The key clues from the above that provide ways to easily and with certainty disqualify pitchers as candidates are 8 and 9. Number 8 is a huge clue.

I did a b-r search for pitchers who had at least 600 innings in the 1990s. I sorted by ERA+ and focused on pitchers below 110.

From that I have concluded that our Mystery Pitcher is one Erik Hanson. He seems to fit all the criteria. He pitched from 1988-1998, he had some success in the majors, he wasn't a superstar, he played for four teams, he had a mid-90s fastball, he had elbow trouble, he did not appear in the Mitchell Report, and he played his last season (1999, 109 innings) in the minors.

If I'm wrong about him, other potential candidates are the following. I didn't do much checking of these pitchers against the criteria so some of these may not work, but here are the names that stood out as possibilities:

Joey Hamilton
Brian Bohanon
Frank Castillo
Chris Haney
James Baldwin

I also thought of Ricky Bones but he did appear in the Mitchell Report, so he's out.

EDIT: I figure Steve Avery doesn't really qualify since he was considered a star in some circles after having won 18 games twice.
   16. RobertMachemer Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:01 PM (#3092233)
Did Frank Castillo ever have a fastball in the mid-90s? (By this I assume that we mean his pitches were clocked somewhere near 95mph, not that he pitched a "fast"ball at some point in the middle of the 1990s). I could be misremembering, but I'd rule him out by that criterion.
   17. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:03 PM (#3092237)
Did Frank Castillo ever have a fastball in the mid-90s? (By this I assume that we mean his pitches were clocked somewhere near 95mph, not that he pitched a "fast"ball at some point in the middle of the 1990s). I could be misremembering, but I'd rule him out by that criterion.


I know he was a soft tosser for the Red Sox, but I included him in my throw-away list because I don't have a good sense of how many soft tossers used to throw pretty hard (like Jeff Fassero). Though I don't know whether Castillo was ever injured.

EDIT: Keep in mind there is a selection bias towards pitchers who are drafted and such: soft tossers have a harder time getting drafted, which is why (at least this is my sense) that most pitchers who are drafted were probably able to reach the mid-90s at some point. Well, at least low to mid 90s.
   18. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:03 PM (#3092238)
Which is probably a wiser choice than McCarthy made in Odd Man Out, where he changes a few of the details but not the names.


Probably so!

If we're just going to guess wildly (or perhaps not so wildly; see No. 15), I'll give a try at some sort of Philly connection and say Terry Adams (decent pitcher; two stints with the Phillies; career ended in the minors, but not too long ago).
   19. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:05 PM (#3092243)
could be misremembering, but I'd rule him out by that criterion


On this basis, I'd also probably rule out Haney and most certainly Bohanon.
   20. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:22 PM (#3092261)
This is obviously Brian Falkenborg, he's trying to muddy the waters with all those "facts".
   21. StJoeHawk Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:22 PM (#3092262)
What about Robert Person? His major league career went from 1995 - 2003, and he spent his final season (2005) in the minors. He also had elbow surgery when he was with the Phillies (and his time with the Phillies would give him a local connection to the Daily News).
   22. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:27 PM (#3092266)
Yes, shouldn't there be some Philly connection?

I remember Robert Person not being the kind of guy who got along with the media or wanted to confide in sportswriters, but that might just be because of that time he was arrested after a fight in a Tampa nightclub and kicked out the window of a police car.
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:27 PM (#3092267)
What about Robert Person? His major league career went from 1995 - 2003, and he spent his final season (2005) in the minors. He also had elbow surgery when he was with the Phillies (and his time with the Phillies would give him a local connection to the Daily News).


He might fit, too. And he does not appear in the Mitchell Report.

The only question now is whether he ever fielded a ball that was hit back to the mound.
   24. base ball chick Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:35 PM (#3092275)
the reporter just might could have blended 2 players, just to throw everyone offn the scent

but i would bet that there are a WHOLE lot of ballplayers with very VERY similar stories who want to stay in the closet because they don't want to talk about their teammates/other ballplayers, don't want to be grilled in front of congress

but actually as long as they aren't egotistical leos, they should escape fine seeing as how there is already a designated fall guy
   25. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:43 PM (#3092281)
"Perhaps it's like the mysterious minor leaguer from The Juice, and the author has changed "nonmaterial details" so as to obscure the guy's identity?"

Anybody still have a link to that? I lost mine.
   26. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:45 PM (#3092283)
The process of changing nonmaterial details is always fun. I would write for a school website now and then, and I would think "Hey...if I give the character who is really Joe Schakowsky a name like "Edmund Hsu", nobody in the world will figure out who he is."
   27. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 04, 2009 at 04:50 PM (#3092293)
"What about Robert Person?"

In every stadium, tonight, the chapter leader walks around in the darkness outside the crowd of men who stare at each other across the empty center of every baseball diamond, and this voice yells:
"His name is Robert Person."
And the crowd yells, "His name is Robert Person."
The leaders yell, "He is thirty-nine years old."
And the crowd yells, "He is thirty-nine years old."

He is thirty-nine years old, and he was part of baseball.
He is thirty-nine years old, and he was part of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Only in death will we have our own names, since only in death are we no longer part of the effort. In death we become heroes.

And the crowds yell, "Robert Person."
And the crowds yell, "Robert Person."
And the crowds yell, "Robert Person."
   28. HGM Posted: March 04, 2009 at 05:06 PM (#3092304)
Erik Hanson and Robert Person seem like the best bets to me.
   29. RJ in TO Posted: March 04, 2009 at 05:12 PM (#3092309)
It depresses me to see how many of the suggested pitchers logged time for the Jays - Person, Castillo, Hamilton, Hanson.
   30. Karl from NY Posted: March 04, 2009 at 07:44 PM (#3092598)
Mystery steroid user and no mention of this?

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/49529

I love that that's on the first page of Google results for his name.

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