'Bad News' about steroids gets worse
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

Tatum O'Neal comes clean ...

Tatum O'Neal, John McEnroe
Tatum O'Neal might have witnessed sterioid use before her former husband's alleged experimentation.
News item: Actress Tatum O'Neal told "20/20" that her former husband, John McEnroe, used steroids while on the pro tennis circuit.

"People want to know how John got started with steroids and I have to admit it was because of me. I suggested them. I had seen with my own eyes what steroids could do for an athlete when I was 12 years old.

"That's right. The Bad News Bears used steroids. Yeah, the whole damn team. Kelly Leak, Tanner, Ahmad, me, everybody. Well, maybe not that booger-eating spaz Lupus, but everybody else was on the juice. Jose and Miguel would pick the stuff up in Mexico when they visited relatives, then distribute it at practice. Sure, some of us were reluctant at first, but once we saw what those pills could do to our little bodies we lined up for them like they were snowcones.

"Did Buttermaker know about it? Hell, he encouraged it. He was losing a lot of money betting on our games, and he figured we had to do something or he was going to be cleaning pools without any thumbs. And whew, did those babies make a difference. We went from being so bad that the league wanted to contract us to the hottest team in the league in a matter of weeks. We would have won the championship, too, if Kelly hadn't had to skip his last cycle when we heard the league was going to test our urine after the championship game. Turned out that was just a rumor spread by the Yankees, though. Those bastards. Thought they were better than everybody, but they were using, too. I would say 85 percent of the league was on steroids.

Tatum O'Neal, Walter Matthau
Buttermaker (Walter Matthau, right) had ulterior motives to endorse O'Neal's and her Bears' use of the juice.
"Let me tell you something about Kelly, too. Ever wonder why he was so much taller and better than the rest of the team? Well, he wasn't 12. He was 15. Yeah, he lied on his birth certificate. That's why I had to laugh when everybody was so shocked by Danny Almonte getting busted last year. That's been going on forever. Heck, Engleberg was 16. He used to drive us out to Santa Monica after games. Cops would just wink at us.

"And you know how I had to come out of the championship game early with a sore arm? That's because I tore my rotator cuff popping wheelies on Kelly's motorcycle. I lied and said my arm was just tired, otherwise Buttermaker would have skinned me alive. Kelly covered for me. But that's the way teammates were back then. We looked after each other. We were a team.

"Funny thing about Kelly, though. He kept flirting and making all these comments about wanting to get me in bed, and I got really hooked on him. But it was all just talk. Get to first base? I never even got to the on-deck circle. Tanner said it was probably just a lowered sex drive due to all the steroids, but I still was pretty hurt. He broke my heart and it took years to get over him. Even after I met John, I would wonder about Kelly. Then about a decade ago, Toby Whitewood called and gave me the news. Kelly had just come out of the closet. Yeah, he was gay the whole time, and I never even suspected. He's living with Rudy Stein, and they own a chain of coffee stands in the Valley. They adopted a darling little boy, and now he's playing for the Bears. And they're managing the team.

"The sad thing is that despite all we've learned about the risks, they have the kid on steroids. How do I know? Easy. Acne."

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at cuffscaple@hotmail.com.



Jim Caple Archive

McEnroe to ex-wife: You cannot be serious

Tatum O'Neal says McEnroe used steroids

Caple: It's a man-eat-dog world

Caple: What caused 'Slugout in the Dugout'?

Caple: Play nice, kids

Caple: Out of Africa ... and kickin' it in Seattle

Email story
Most sent
Print story

espn Page 2 index