Wednesday, March 3, 2004
Updated: March 4, 8:41 AM ET
Hot dogs and hormones
By Jim Caple
NEWS ITEM: Second baseman Jeff Kent proposed last week that Babe Ruth might have been on steroids. "Babe Ruth didn't do steroids? How do you know?" Kent told reporters. "People are saying Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth -- how do you know those guys didn't do steroids? So all of a sudden, you've got guys doing steroids now in the 20th century, 21st century? Come on. Keep going backward. Pete Rose? Who knows? ... How do we know those guys were clean? Did they test those guys?"
Babe Ruth comes clean ...
"Hell yes, I was on the juice. Duh. The single-season record for home runs was 29 in 1920 and then I hit 54. I hit more home runs than every other team in the league. I swung a 54-friggin'-ounce bat -- that's more than a pound heavier than Barry Bonds uses today. And you think I could still get around on a Walter Johnson fastball without using something? Hello? McFly?
"Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Supposedly, steroids didn't exist until the late 1930s but that's just what the government wants you to believe. German scientists developed them at the University of Heidelberg in 1915 while trying to create Uber-soldiers for the Kaiser and we took them as reparations after the war. Baseball owners figured they were just the shot in the arm the sport needed.
"You gotta remember. The rumors about the Black Sox scandal were just breaking, Carl Mays killed Ray Chapman with a pitch -- baseball needed to do something to win back the fans. So when Jacob Ruppert and the other owners said that if I just took these 'anabolic steroids' I would be strong enough to hit 50 home runs and that I would be a national hero and that I would make more money than the president, well, they didn't have to ask twice. I mean, what difference could a few extra chemicals make compared to all the crap I was already shoveling into my body?
"Sure, the press knew about it -- look at the pictures of me when I was a rookie and when I hit 60 home runs -- but the writers explained my weight gain by saying I ate so many hot dogs and drank soda. They even said that's what caused my "bellyache heard 'round the world' when I missed all those games in 1925. But it wasn't from overeating and it wasn't gonorrhea like people say today, neither -- hell, I wouldn't miss a game for anything less than syphilis. I was experimenting with a new anabolic steroid that Wally Pipp shot me up with, a bad mixture of Red Dye No. 2, peach pits, bat guano, saccharine, pancreas of Scottish sheep, the brains of downer cows and bootleg Jack Daniels. Boy, that was a mistake. It gave me a Hall of Fame case of the runs but I can't say it made me any stronger.
"Word got out what I was doing and it wasn't long before a lot of guys started taking steroids. Jimmie Foxx, Hack Wilson, even that goodie two-shoes Lou Gehrig was using at some point. And it wasn't just us baseball players. All the star football players were on it, too. Bronko Nagurski, Red Grange. And Notre Dame's Four Horsemen? Grantland Rice gave them that nickname because they were on Lasix and Bute.
"Anyway, that's why we didn't wear batting helmets in those days. We weren't braver or tougher or dumber than players today. We just took so many steroids that we couldn't fit helmets over our heads."
Your two cents
|Babe Ruth went from 29 homers in 1919 with the Red Sox to 54 the next season with the Yankees.|
Pirates fans are divided. Roberto Clemente remains their favorite player and they think the stadium should bear his name. They also are proud of their geography and want that reflected by the stadium. So the winning alternative name to PNC Park is:
Clemente Field at Three Rivers Park.
As for the new stadium being built in St. Louis, no clear favorite has emerged. Some like Sportsman's Park, some like Musial Field, some like Buck Park and some like Busch Stadium. So we'll leave that name to be determined when the stadium actually opens.
Meanwhile, on other subjects, a reader identifying himself only as a Yankee fan, suggests yet another type of idiot in addition to the ones listed last week: "As per your column -- you forgot, 'People who call for a salary cap while having the second highest payroll in baseball.' "
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.