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STEROIDS: Two Articles



It has become fashionable to regard this issue as existing mostly in the past. We commonly hear references about "The Steroid Era", where it is usually assumed that those days are over. That is a huge mistake! This dangerous misconception stems from the terms of the last labor agreement between players and owners in 2005. It is true that testing and penalties were significantly increased, but Major League Baseball gave up almost as much as it gained in that process. Prior to that time, urine specimens were kept after they were analyzed. That served as a powerful deterrent to anyone considering the use of illegal drugs. After ‘05, that deterrent ceased to exist, since it was agreed that specimens would be discarded.

Accordingly, any player using a so-called designer drug or human growth hormone after 2005 enjoyed significantly LESS chance of detection. "Designer Drugs" is the generic name for those new substances for which we do not yet have a chemical signature. As of now, users of such drugs are home free. By way of example, in the spring of 2003, when players gave urine samples, they would not have tested positive for "thg", commonly referred to as "The Clear." At that point, "thg" was a relatively new designer drug, and its molecular pattern had not been identified. Anybody tested for it was safe from detection. However, midway through the 2003 baseball season, a sample was sent to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, whereupon a qualified scientist established its chemical signature. At that moment, anyone using "thg" who passed the test in the spring, became vulnerable to exposure as a cheater if his sample was retested.

Similarly, at the present time, the use of human growth hormones can not be detected by a urine test. However, if the samples were still kept, technology might improve to the point where original negative tests would prove positive in the future. Any player seeking historical recognition for his accomplishments would certainly be motivated by the prospects of eventual exposure and disgrace. As of 2005, they became free and clear of any such limitations or concerns. Star players generate huge incomes, and there are no limits to the potential developments of new designer steroids. Players can afford to encourage their creation and use, and then walk away with total impunity.

I recognize and applaud the progress that has been made by Major League Baseball in the matter of "cleaning up the game." By simply looking at the significantly lower home run totals, it is apparent that fewer players are now using PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) than just a few years ago. But, make no mistake. We are not at the end of the Steroid Era. Until athletes and owners get serious about using ALL available methods for maintaining true integrity, we are still in jeopardy of disgracing our National Pastime. Personally, I still regard Roger Maris’s 1961 season total of sixty-one home runs and Henry Aaron’s career total of 755 homers as the real standards. And, if someone were to break out, and slug seventy-five home runs next season, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. Regardless of who it might be, I would be suspicious, and, to me, that is a cultural tragedy.

Bill Jenkinson, Baseball Historian (2008)



I gave considerable thought about the “steroid issue” before writing BASEBALL’S ULTIMATE POWER, my book about the history of long distance hitting. I knew that the matter needed to be addressed since it has dominated most conversations about home run hitting in recent years. However, I didn’t want fans of the modern players to recoil from the book in fear of being constantly bashed with accusations about their heroes. Accordingly, I decided on a strategy that I believe to work effectively.

I address the topic in the first chapter, and explain my position clearly. I am convinced that many modern players have cheated by using Performance Enhancing Drugs. However, I also state that I do not make specific allegations in the individual mini-chapters devoted to the top individual sluggers. The counter-point, which is also expressed distinctly, is that I make no effort to cover up anyone’s transgressions by omitting incriminating data. When I tell the story of some of the biggest names in recent baseball history, I include data that unequivocally points to steroid use. That entails discussions of their career “power performance curves,” as well as the listing of each player’s ten longest career home runs.

When a reader sees that all, or almost all, of a slugger’s longest homers occur rather suddenly, or after age thirty, the conclusions are essentially inescapable. I also make overt references to the earlier “clean players” by pointing out how far they could hit baseballs at such an early age.  Specific mention is made about Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle and Dick Allen, men who left verifiable records of prodigious power as teenagers. I state openly that all legitimate power hitters share the common ability to hit for great distance throughout their entire baseball lives.

I also strongly emphasize a subject that no current media representative or baseball expert seems willing to address. I take the position that Major League Baseball’s current drug testing policy is overrated. Then, I explain why. I believe that my book will provide a considerable amount of new empirical data on the subject of steroids in baseball. The information is there for anyone interested, but it does not focus on this controversial, sometimes painful, topic.

Bill Jenkinson, Author of BASEBALL’S ULTIMATE POWER (2010)