Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - Printable Version
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Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - natejeffries - 01-01-2012 12:01 AM
<a href="http://s1122.photobucket.com/albums/l533/Nateguidry/?action=view&current=JohnnyBench.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1122.photobucket.com/albums/l533/Nateguidry/JohnnyBench.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
Did steroids start in baseball with the Big Red Machine?
Maybe others were doing it before the Reds, but the amazing offensive statistics produced by this team and what we now know about performance enhancers, raises the possibility that there were some synthetic sweeteners in that clubhouse.
Three players on the team stand out the most.
1) The first guy is on the above Sports Illustrated cover from 1972. Is that Hulk Hogan? Arnold? The Honky Tonk Man? Macho Man Randy Savage?
No. It's Johnny Bench. The guy that some people swore hit homers farther than anybody they ever saw.
There is a reason no catcher ever hit home runs remotely like Bench before. They didn't have the forearms of Mark McGwire. Look at that picture again. That vein is about to burst.
He led the league in home runs twice, with 40 and 45. He also did it in a pre-Mike Piazza era when catchers never even dreamed of approaching the 40 homer mark.
Bench also was known for his rage. I am not accusing him of roid rage but one person on this site actually wrote about experiencing it firsthand as a little child, after being berated by the "Little General" for wanting his autograph.
2) Joe Morgan. Look up his stats. Pay attention to those first nine seasons with the Houston Astros. He had a batting average of .260 over that period.
In all of those seasons, he only had three years where he belted more than 8 homers and reached a high of 15. He averaged one home run per every 54 at bats.
He was traded to Cincinatti before the 1972 season and immediately posted career highs with a .292 average and 16 home runs. He hit 26 homers the next year.
In Morgan's first six years with the Reds, he had a batting average of .300. The 5'7 second baseman hit more than 20 homers four times. He lowered his home run ratio to once every 41 at bats. And it wasn't the ballpark. His home away splits were remarkably consistent throughout his career except for his biggest home run season in Cincinatti when he actually hit twice as many home runs AWAY.
Take a close look at footage of Morgan in the 70's. He had the muscles of an olympic weightlifter. Did I mention he was 5'7?
3) George Foster
He went from being a guy who hit for average in the minors with a little pop to being a guy who couldn't hit for average or power in his first few years in the majors.
In his first three seasons in the minors, he hit a combined 25 home runs in 1,200 at bats.
In his first full year in the majors, he hit 13 home runs. Between 1971 and 1974, he batted .233 and hit 26 home runs in 930 at-bats.
In 1975, Foster was apparently let in on a secret as his average soared to .300 and he belted 23 homers, nearly the same amount of homers that he needed twice as many at bats to hit over the previous three years.
In 1976, he hit .306 and had 29 home runs.
In 1977, he did what nobody would do until juiced up Cecil Fielder 14 years later - he smashed 51 home runs. In fact, Foster was the only guy over a 25-year stretch to hit 50 home runs. The last one was Willie Mays.
Then he went into decline. Right away. He went down to 40 home runs the next year, followed by 30, 25, and 22 in 1981. He was traded to the Mets the next year where he batted .241 and hit only 13 home runs.
Just when you thought he was washed up, Foster miraculously found his swing again at the age of 35. He bested his home run totals of the previous three years by hitting 28 home runs before going into decline again.
I can't prove any of these guys took steroids and I don't think anybody ever will. But I have a strong case for suspicion.
RE: Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - dbroockerd - 01-01-2012 01:55 AM
and Nate speaks again...here we go
RE: Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - jacobystealshome - 01-01-2012 07:52 AM
and folks say i troll
RE: Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - ELevin99 - 01-01-2012 08:12 AM
It wouldn't surprise me. The drug use had to start somewhere and most likely it was in the 60's or 70's.
RE: Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - dbauer2 - 01-01-2012 11:22 AM
That's some of the worst conjecture I've ever seen.
The biggest effect that steroids has had is prolonging careers. Steroids has caused guys like Bonds and Mcgwire to hit 60+ HR after they were 35. Bench never hit more than 30 home runs after his 30th birthday. Nor did he drive in 100 RBI after that.
Both Bench and Morgan had all of their best years before they turned 32, not after like Bonds, Mcgwire and most of the other recent additions to the 500 HR club (Griffey, Thomas being exceptions).
Red flags for steroids should be huge anomalies like the recent power trend in 35+ year old ball players, when 75+ years of data says that most players are done playing at an elite level by their early 30s.
Red Flags should not include a sports illustrated cover and a team nickname being the only evidence for your hypothesis.
RE: Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - natejeffries - 01-01-2012 01:44 PM
First of all, your assumptions are based on two guys who took steroids in their mid 30's - Bonds and McGwire.
You are not factoring in guys who started taking steroids early on. You think guys don't take steroids in the minors?
Secondly, Morgan's best year was at the age of 32 and 33 in 1976. He hit .320, a career high 27 home runs, dwarfed his career high with 111 RBIs and stole 60 bases.
Morgan never hit 20 home runs until he turned 30. He never batted .300 until he was 32, he never hit 30 doubles until he was 30 and he didn't steal 60 bases until he was in his 30's.
If you can show me another guy in baseball who had arms like Bench in that photo and who was not either on steroids, HGH or simultaneously jumping off the top of a ring, then I will reconsider my position.
There were 100 years of catchers before Johnny Bench and not one of them ever approached what he did. There was a reason. That position beats you up like no other unless you are the Incredible Hulk.
RE: Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - mickey7mantle7 - 01-01-2012 01:46 PM
Good topic and good point! I always wondered when it may have kicked in. Makes you wonder doesn't it? Can probably do the research on several other players before them and ask yourself the same question. I guess we will never know and only "speculate" their legitimacy.
RE: Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - jacobystealshome - 01-01-2012 01:54 PM
(01-01-2012 01:44 PM)natejeffries Wrote: If you can show me another guy in baseball who had arms like Bench in that photo and who was not either on steroids, HGH or simultaneously jumping off the top of a ring, then I will reconsider my position.
oh lord, this is easy:
Kluszewski became notorious for his strength; Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher was asked to name five of the strongest players in baseball, he complied. When it was pointed out that he'd left Ted Kluszewski off his list, Durocher said: "Kluszewski? I'm talking about human beings!"
RE: Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - dbauer2 - 01-01-2012 01:59 PM
His name was Jimmy Foxx. He played alot of his career before steroids were even invented. Found this nice montage online.
RE: Did steroids in baseball start with the Big Red Machine? - jacobystealshome - 01-01-2012 02:02 PM
or, bo jackson:
and im going by memory, but andre dawson and dave winfield had HUGE arms