BASEBALL AND SLEAZE (CONT.)
The network of lies, self-serving cover-ups and general sleaziness surrounding drug use in baseball becomes increasingly evident as the Curtis Strong case in Pittsburgh continues and reactions to it are made public. In an interview with Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough. Ken Moffett, former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, had some strong things to say. You'll recall that Keith Hernandez of the Mets threatened to sue Moffett (SCORECARD, Sept. 16) after Moffett implied in 1984 that Hernandez, had been linked to cocaine when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals. Moffett told McDonough it had cost him "between $6,500 and $10,000 to get a lawyer to settle" the suit out of court.
"They made a fool out of me in front of everyone in baseball by making me apologize publicly," Moffett said. "That's what Hernandez wanted to settle the suit."
Hernandez denied then—and was still denying four months ago—"any involvement with cocaine, ever." After he admitted in Pittsburgh on Sept. 6 that he had indeed used cocaine over four seasons (1980-83), his agent, Jack Childers, phoned Moffett and "apologized all over the place," the former MLBPA head told McDonough. "He said he was sick over what happened. Childers said he never knew anything about it until Keith was on the stand."
Moffett said to McDonough, "Greed stops the owners from really going after the drug problem in the game. They still want to win, and they will overlook a player's drug problems if they think it will help them win.... The use of [amphetamines] is so rampant [that] if you penalized people using pills, you would have to suspend entire teams in some cases.
"People in the game know who the drug users are, but the owners do not really do anything about it because of greed and because the Players Association does not want to deal with the problem.
"There are plenty of big-time players with drug problems whose names have not yet come to the surface. This thing is a lot more widespread than in Pittsburgh.... There is a lot more to the problem than the public knows. Baseball has covered it up. And nothing will change unless the owners and the players really work together to bring it to an end."
Aaron Pryor, the International Boxing Federation junior welterweight champion, whose life appears to be coming apart at the seams (Sept. 9), is apparently on the move again. His latest odyssey began after friends brought him to the emergency ward of the South Miami Hospital shortly after midnight on Sept. 11. Pryor left the hospital at 7:45 a.m. "He wasn't discharged," said Tom Jones, a hospital spokesman. "He left on his own responsibility." Jones said he couldn't comment on why Pryor had been hospitalized. A friend says Pryor withdrew $3,000 from a bank, had his phone disconnected and left his Miami home with his girlfriend, Linda Hill, their baby, Norra, and another friend, Frank Rudisel.
"Trying to keep up with Aaron is like Mission: Impossible," said the champion's manager, Buddy LaRosa. "A friend called me to tell me that [ Pryor] had been taken to a hospital. I thought he had gone to get help, but I guess he doesn't want help. After his money is gone, when he hits bottom, maybe he will reach out. My telephone number hasn't changed."