Moore: Peter Ueberroth’s self-fulfilling prophecy

From Jack Moore at The Score on February 28, 2014:

Back in 1985, the drug scourge haunting Major League Baseball was not steroids. It wasn’t amphetamines or “greenies,” either, although their widespread prevalence has been asserted by former players and historical accounts.

The scourge, instead, was cocaine. Four Kansas City Royals (Willie Aikens, Willie Wilson, Vida Blue and Jerry Martin) were jailed for cocaine violations, and their supplier, a Kansas City citizen and “baseball nut” named Mark Liebl claimed, “It’s all over baseball.”


The cocaine issue had grown to the point where it was starting to concern both those in the media and those in MLB offices. It was no longer an issue that could be confined to a few players or a single team. In February of 1986, Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth issued an ultimatum at a news conference:

“Baseball is going to — this year — put on the field of play virtually a drug free sport…. We will flat get rid of it; it’s gone.”

Less than a month later, Ueberroth suspended seven players — Keith Hernandez, Lonnie Smith, Dave Parker, Joaquin Andujar, Jeff Leonard, Enos Cabell and Dale Berra — one year without pay unless they agreed to donate 10 percent of their base pay to drug-abuse programs and work 200 drug-related community service hours over the next two years. Another 21 players were disciplined for their involvement in a federal drug trial in Pittsburgh the year prior.

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Originally published: February 28, 2014. Last Updated: February 28, 2014.