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Cocaine

From BR Bullpen

Cocaine is a drug of abuse which became prominent in some sectors of American society in the 1970s and caused ravages among baseball stars in the 1980s. Cocaine is not a performance-enhancing drug: its effect on performance is highly detrimental. One particularly dangerous form of the drug is "crack cocaine", sold in small quantities and which is designed to be be smoked rather than snorted. It caused tremendous problems in the poorer neighborhoods of various U.S. cities in the 1980s, both because of widespread addiction and the criminality it engendered, to a point where it was considered a national epidemic.

Among the players whose careers were destroyed or temporarily derailed by cocaine abuse, the most prominent are Keith Hernandez, Lonnie Smith, Tim Raines, Steve Howe and Darrell Porter. Others include four members of the Kansas City Royals who served jail sentences after the 1983 season because of their involvement with cocaine: Vida Blue, Willie Aikens, Jerry Martin and Willie Wilson. The 1985 Pittsburgh drug trials highlighted how much cocaine had infected the clubhouses of certain teams: not only were players like Dave Parker, Rod Scurry and Dale Berra implicated, the Pirate Parrot, mascot of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was also cited.

While some players like Raines managed to kick their addiction early and became spokespersons against drug abuse, others saw their life spin out of control: Aikens spent 15 years in jail for a trafficking offense; Porter died an early death and traces of drugs were found in his body during his autopsy; Scurry also died young from an apparent overdose, never being able to bring his life back under control after the ravages of cocaine. Former pitcher Sammy Stewart was continually in trouble with the law because of an addiction to crack cocaine after his playing career, and his heavy consumption was likely a contributing cause to his early death.

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