To Cheat or Not to Cheat
This story appears in the June 4, 2012 issue of Sports Illustrated. Buy the digital version of the magazine here.
The 1994 Fort Myers Miracle, a Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, included four pitchers of similar attributes. They each threw righthanded, with average velocity, and were either 23 or 24 years old and had been drafted out of four-year colleges in no higher than the fourth round. All would become good friends as they shared the torturous bus rides and even worse food through multiple rungs on the minor league ladder. All clutched the little boy’s dream of becoming a big leaguer. Only one of them made it. Only one of them used steroids. Only one of them considered taking his own life. Only one of them harbors enormous regret. The big leaguer, the juicer, the near suicide and the shamed are one and the same.
This is a story about the real cost of steroids in baseball — not the broken records, not the litigation, not the talk-show drone about the elite players who juiced and how to weigh their Hall of Fame candidacy. This is a story about the hundreds, even thousands, of anonymous ballplayers whose careers and lives were changed by a temptation that defined an era. It is also a story about the secrets we keep and the casualties we create when we allow the corrupt to go unspoken — especially when the corrupt is something far more horrific than steroids.