Batters on Benders

A study has found that cocaine, marijuana, and amphetamine use is common in Major League Baseball. Players may be turn to drugs to alleviate the stress involved in the profession.

By Christian Smith, published on September 1, 2003 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

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."

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."