Batters on Benders

Watching the World Series on the tube is a perfect excuse for downing a few beers. This year's games may also be a great time to score amphetamines--if you have access to the players.

Michael Mahoney closely analyzed alcohol and drug use among 16 players who had spent 10 or more years playing major league ball between 1960 and 1999. He found that drug use was common and tended to ramp up as players' careers progressed. Cocaine and marijuana were popular, says Mahoney, who holds an Ed.D in sports administration from Temple University in Philadelphia, but "most of the guys in my study [who did drugs] were on amphetamines."

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The ties between major league baseball players and alcohol or drugs are double knotted. Darryl Strawberry and Mickey Mantle famously fought addictions. Memorably, a jury acquitted Pedro Guerrero, co-MVP of the 1981 World Series, of drug charges in 2000 after his attorney argued that Guerrero's IQ of 70 prevented him from realizing he was buying 33 pounds of cocaine.

Considering the sacrifices these athletes endure to make it to the top, why do they handicap themselves once they get there? The players in the study say they boozed to deal with the stress. "Granted, [alcohol and drug abuse] did bring an end to their careers," says Mahoney. "But with the inherent pressures of winning or losing or getting booed by 50,000 fans and trying to walk away and wipe that from your mind--without drugs or alcohol, could they have tolerated that?"

So were any of them wasted in the World Series? "Not to my knowledge," he says. "I didn't ask that question. But were there players that played under the influence of alcohol or drugs during a major league game? Yes."

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