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THE CONTINUING SAGA OF DR. MAZZA AND HIS "GOOD FRIENDS"
The Philadelphia Phillies, 1980 World Series winners, now have another distinction. According to a Reading, Pa. lawyer, Emmanuel Dimitriou, the Phillies—some of them, anyway—are also "champions in the art of lying." But looseness with the truth isn't the only sin being laid at these players' doorstep. There are suggestions they used amphetamines to add zip to their arms and wallop to their bats. And it appears they may have subjected friends to criminal prosecution to protect their own images.
These suspicions about members of baseball's best team were aroused last week during a climactic moment in the case involving prescriptions for amphetamines and diet pills issued in the names of Phillies Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Randy Lerch and Larry Christenson, former Phillie Tim McCarver and the wives of two players, Jean Luzinski and Sheena Bowa. Since the case first made headlines last July, those seven had assured authorities—and were righteously backed up by the club's management—that they neither requested nor received the drugs. Their blanket denial was damaging to Dr. Patrick Mazza, the unpaid physician of the Phillies' Reading farm club, who had written the prescriptions. It also was damaging to Robert L. Masley, a Reading machinist, and his son, Robert M., who had picked up the drugs at various pharmacies, ostensibly for delivery to the seven whose names were on the bottles.
It was tempting to believe the Phillies' story. After all, the drugs had been prescribed by a licensed doctor, which made it unlikely the Phillies would have been subject to criminal prosecution had they acknowledged receiving them. What's more, some of the players were known to have been friends of Mazza and the Masleys. Would they have betrayed those friends merely to spare themselves possible embarrassment? Authorities evidently thought not: last November the Pennsylvania Department of Justice indicted Mazza on charges of illegally prescribing drugs and the two Masleys on charges of obtaining them.
The state's case against Mazza and the Masleys received its first test during a preliminary hearing on Jan. 7 in a courtroom situated in the basement of a Reading store, A & B Carpet Center. Acting as attorney for all three defendants, Dimitriou asked Christenson whether he received $7.72 worth of drugs in early 1979 from the elder Masley (he also asked the pitcher if "in your magnanimity, you gave him $8 and told him to keep the change?"). Dimitriou also asked Jean Luzinski if she received pills from Masley behind home plate at Veterans Stadium. Both witnesses said they didn't recall such transactions. But Mrs. Luzinski did testify that she had found amphetamines in a medicine cabinet at home but didn't know where they had come from. And Rose strained credibility when, upon being asked if he ever used "greenies," another name for amphetamines, he replied innocently, "What is a greenie?" This was the same Rose who was quoted in a Playboy interview as having admitted taking "greenies"—the word used in the interview—to give himself a lift before games.
The preliminary hearing resumed last week, and the united front maintained by the Phillie players and wives suddenly crumbled. Lerch changed his story and admitted he had twice received quantities of an antidepressant prescribed by Mazza and delivered to him by the elder Masley. A state drug agent instrumental in the investigation, Phoebe L. Teichert, testified that she had refused to sign the prosecution's complaints and had recommended that the Phillies be given lie-detector tests but was overruled and threatened with reprisals by her superiors. She intimated that she felt those superiors were guilty of a cover-up.
The Masleys also testified. The father said he delivered amphetamines to Lerch, Carlton and Christenson in or near the Phillie locker room in Veterans Stadium and also gave pills for Rose, Larry Bowa and Greg Luzinski to a clubhouse man, Pete Cera. The son said he took pills to Luzinski and Bowa. He said that Bowa had told him that during the baseball season, "that's when he really needs [amphetamines] for every game. That was a direct quote, you know, by Larry, up to three to four a game...." Mazza admitted he had made "a gross mistake" in not keeping proper records, but insisted he had written the prescriptions at the request of the ballplayers, two of whom. Luzinski and Bowa, had asked that the prescriptions be made out in their wives' names. And Cera told of having accepted vials of medicine for several players that the Masleys had delivered to the Phillie locker room.
Even before the hearing ended, the prosecutor, Donald E. Johnson, confronted by all this testimony that the Phillies had received the drugs, conceded that the charges against the Masleys should be dropped. District Justice Albert J. Gaspari then dismissed the charges against all the defendants. Mazza's troubles resumed, however, when the state medical board said it received a complaint accusing him of misuse of drugs and failure to keep adequate records.
But it was the Phillie Seven who now seemed most clearly on the spot. Some of them had been accused of receiving amphetamines at the ballpark, and one of them, Bowa, was said to have relied on them for a boost during games. Mazza complained that "my very, very good friends," as he described them, had been "willing to sacrifice me." The elder Masley expressed bitterness toward Luzinski, with whom he said he had met socially some 50 times a year. Masley now vowed he would never again speak to him. About the only good news for the Phillies was word from the Department of Justice that perjury charges in the case were unlikely. That decision notwithstanding, the inescapable conclusion in the courtroom beneath the A & B Carpet Center was that the seven had for more than six months been sweeping the truth under the rug.