BASEBALL AND SLEAZE (CONT.)
After eight hours of deliberation, the 12-member jury in Pittsburgh's "baseball cocaine" trial (SCORECARD, Sept. 16) last Friday found Philadelphia caterer Curtis Strong guilty of 11 of 14 counts of selling cocaine. But not before Adam Renfroe Jr., Strong's flamboyant attorney, had made good on his assertion that big league baseball, as well as Strong, would be on trial in the case. Whenever Renfroe elicited a new name or another seamy detail about drug use in baseball—and that happened frequently—he forced the country to sit in judgment of the sport.
Before the trial, few people in baseball would admit the drug problem was so widespread. Then came the witnesses who, under immunity from prosecution, said they had bought cocaine from Strong: Keith Hernandez, Dave Parker, Enos Cabell, Lonnie Smith, Dale Berra. And testimony produced the names of other players, active and retired, who were said to have used cocaine: Joaquin Andujar, Bernie Carbo, Gary Matthews, Dick Davis. More names—Pete Rose, Willie Stargell, Willie Mays among them—were linked to amphetamine use.
There was other information from Pittsburgh: Ballplayers had stashed coke in their fielders' mitts and brought it back from the Venezuelan winter leagues. One player spent more than $100,000 on coke in a year. It was all too much for the chief prosecutor for the District of Columbia, U.S. Attorney Joseph DiGenova, who watched from afar and expressed the feelings of many: "These overpaid, overrated, pampered, overlionized, spoiled brats who have corrupted a great game should be thrown out of baseball. Embarrassment by forced revelation is far from sufficient punishment for these spoilers of sport. The free ride should end. It's the commissioner's call."
But commissioner Peter Ueberroth wasn't saying what action, if any, he would take against players who admitted using cocaine.
As DiGenova implies, the trial, for baseball, continues.
There is now a Pete Rose Way in Cincinnati, honoring the Reds' player-manager for breaking Ty Cobb's hit record. There's also a Cobb Street in Royston, Ga., Ty's hometown, but it's not Ty Cobb Street, and no one knows for sure whether it was actually named for the baseball legend. There is a Babe Ruth Plaza outside Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Babe's hometown.
Pete Rose Way is the latest in a long list of streets, lanes, ways, drives, roads, avenues, boulevards, highways and expressways named for American sports favorites. One of the main thoroughfares in downtown Louisville is Muhammad Ali Boulevard, and Miami has the Don Shula Expressway. There are streets named for other football coaches all over the place: Woody Hayes Drive in Columbus, Ohio; Paul Bryant Drive in Tuscaloosa, Ala.; George Halas Drive in Canton, Ohio; Vince Lombardi Drive in Green Bay, Wis. In Mission, Texas, hometown of the Dallas Cowboys' head coach, there's a street called East Tom Landry.
There's Boudreau Boulevard outside Cleveland Stadium, where Lou Boudreau led the Indians to their last world championship in 1948. Outside Fenway Park in Boston is Yawkey Way, for the late owner of the Red Sox, Tom. In San Francisco, there's a bridge named for Lefty O'Doul, who twice won the National League batting championship and later ran a restaurant near Union Square.